Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
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, in this thrilling debut novel by Lynne Matson.
I went into NIL expecting a creepy paradise island with a ton of mystery and life threatening events. While I did the creepy paradise island, the mysteriousness wasn’t exactly there and the life threatening events didn’t seem all that life threatening. Before I get into the heart of my review, keep in mind that 90% of people I know who read this seemed to absolutely love this book. Loved it. My opinion is going to be the minority. It’s not that anything was wrong with this book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting and I was left slightly disappointed.
After a shimmer of light zapped Charley out of a Target parking lot and deposited her on an unknown island with no clothes or clue where she is, she must figure out how to just survive. She discovers a tribe of sorts who call the island Nil and know most of all the island’s secrets. The most terrifying of which is that you only have one year to get out. With no rhyme or reason to the shimmer gates that take you back, Charley’s adventure on the island is all about luck and trying hard to stay optimistic about her new boyfriend Thad’s fate. He has less than 100 days left. It’s crucial that he catches a gate before it’s too late.
Want to talk about a book with a great setting, Matson has created it in NIL. Each day brings new surprises, some good, some not so good. With the whole shimmer gate thing, objects can come to Nil just as easily as people do. That means animals. And animals can be something as nice as cats or some as furious as a lion. There’s just no telling. Nil is all about being in the right place at the right time. When you picture a island oasis with crystal blue waters, tropical fruits, and a waterfall, you get Nil. Or one section of her that is. The other half is rocks and jungles. Matson has truly created a unique setting that I enjoyed getting to explore with Charley and Thad.
One of the heavy focuses of this book is Charley and Thad’s relationship. They go through an instant connection to not wanting to talk to each to falling in love, as some relationships typically play out. They had great chemistry and you could tell they cared about the other and were both determined to get the other safely home. Readers will love that about this book. Their blossoming love is done in a great way and they are always trying to save the other which is lovely. If you go into this book knowing that it’s mainly going to be somewhat of a love story, you’ll love it. But for me, I wanted more.
Charley is the first person to ever think that there might be a pattern to catching these gates. She makes it a point to try and discover what that is. She finds clues throughout the island, and with the help of some of her other friends, starts to slowly pick apart this mystery. And while we do figure some of it out, we never get a definitive answer. This portion of the book sort of became a back story and not the main focus, and I really wish it had been more prominent! It was killing me that I couldn’t figure out why these kids were on the island, how the gates were created, and the surefire way to catch another one to get out. We don’t get the answers I was desperately wanting to know. I’m the type of person who loves a good puzzle, and not being able to figure this one out drove me crazy. The mystery behind this island is what drew me to this book and is what I was thinking the main focus of the novel was going to be.
NIL was an enjoyable read, just not what I was expecting. I wanted a book that would cause my brain to think, and to think throughout the whole book, trying to get answers. So for me, that’s why I was slightly disappointed. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m the minority in not absolutely loving this book. There were aspects I really really enjoyed, I just wanted something a little different. The ending was a bit convenient but maybe if there is another book, we’ll get the answers to all of Nil’s mysteries. Go in with an open mind, with no expectations, and you’ll find yourself getting drawn into this creepy island known as Nil.