Author: Lynne Matson
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.
Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.
Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that she has to find a way to beat the clock, and quickly.
When I first saw Nil, I was on the fence about it. Then when I saw it described on the author’s Goodreads page as a “YA thriller with a SF twist”, I got a lot more excited. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hold up to what I thought I was getting.
Nil starts out with Charley, a seventeen year old girl vanishing from the Target parking lot and waking up on a mysterious island with other teens. All of the teens arrive the same way but at various times, and have 365 days to escape the island of Nil. Sounds exciting and mysterious, right? Yeah, not so much.
I am someone who doesn’t need everything spelled out for me, I’m perfectly fine with leaving things open and allowing the reader to infer outcomes. However, there was just too much left open. When the questions vastly outweigh the answers, then I have a problem. I mean, why only teens, why 365 days, why only warm-blooded animals, what was the meaning of the drawings … on and on. It got to the point where I had to wonder what the point of it all was besides setting up a situation for Charley and Thad to meet. Listen, I get what Charley and Thad’s possible ultimate purpose there was, but that’s just not enough for me.
The first half of the book was extremely boring and I contemplated not finishing it numerous times. I kept pushing through, though, because I thought we were going to get a mind blowing sci-fi twist and find out something big about the island. Nope, never got it. There were theories thrown around by people on the island, but that was the extent of it. Then there was a situation with a certain shady character that I was getting excited about, but that turned out to be a lame bomb too. So Nil is basically a romance set on a dangerous island.
And to top it off, I didn’t even care for the characters or relationship. Charley and Thad – I could take ‘em or leave ‘em. That played a big role in my dissatisfaction of the book, too. I know that if I had loved the characters, I would’ve been a little more lenient with everything else.
Well, I hadn’t planned on this turning so negative, but the more I thought about everything, the more aggravated I felt. So, yeah, I’m not exactly a fan of Nil and its “all tease and big set-up with no follow through” ways. I guess we just weren’t compatible. The title certainly fits, though.