Book Review: Nil by Lynne Matson

Posted May 2, 2014 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 2 Comments Tags: ,

Book Review: Nil by Lynne MatsonNil by Lynne Matson
Series: Nil #1
Published by Macmillan on 2014-03-04
Genres: Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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three-half-stars

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 was really excited to read then but then as soon as I started it it felt very similar to The Maze Runner and I wasn’t a huge fan of that so I got a little nervous. But I ended up enjoying this one. It was a little predictable but I really enjoyed the characters and liked getting to see them through Charley’s journey on Nil. I’d definitely recommend this one but I didn’t love it like I had hoped I would.

The characters in Nil were my favorite part of the book. Told in alternating POV’s, we get to see the island and the story from both Charley and Thad. Because they are both in different parts of their Nil journey (the teens who arrive are given only 365 days to find a way off the island before they die and Thad had only about 80 days or so left when Charley arrived), it was interesting to see how their moods and attitudes about the island changed with their day count. I also liked how the idea of their end affected how they lived their days and the way they treated people and approached new days. It’s hard to think about having only 365 days to live, whether you will get a future or not, and saying goodbye to people who are or have become important to you. This book approached those topics well without getting really deep or depressing.

Nil also gave us a very strong female MC. We’ve seen a rise in strong female characters in YA books and I will never get tired of that. But Charley was different. She wasn’t out killing people or beating them up. She was fighting to survive and figured out how to do that while working with a group of people. She wasn’t a leader but she contributed something to the group that no one else had. She also wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she thought was right or ask for what she needed or wanted. She made friends and was loyal. I liked reading about a character who followed the rules and was a team player but was still considered strong and important to the group.

One of the reasons I did not rate this book higher was that the end was a bit predictable. There was a minor twist in there that I really liked but it wasn’t hard to see it coming. I would have liked to really been thrown for a loop somewhere along the way. If I had graphed my emotional ups and downs throughout the book, there would not have been very many spikes. A second reason for the lower rating was that we never really learn about the island. There is some information but a lot of it comes from people who were on the island before them that is just passed down from one person to the next. There’s never any real reveal for why the island exists or why there is a 365 day limit or anything. We do learn a little about how to get off the island but this book is really more about the characters and their relationships than it is about the hows and whys of the island of Nil. It’s fine and it’s done well, but I wanted a little bit more.

Overall, Nil was an enjoyable read that made me think about what I would do if I was given 365 days to get off an island or die. It’s interesting to think about and Nil presented us with many different ideas on what should be done. I’d like to think I’d have something to contribute to those also stuck with me and work hard to get back home together but it’s also likely that I’d completely break down. I also really liked the characters in this book and that it was a standalone. I wish we could have learned more about the island and that the story had been a little less predictable but I’d still recommend this book and really enjoyed reading it.

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