Nil by Lynne Matson

Nil by Lynne MatsonNil by Lynne Matson
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. 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 lying 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 to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

The premise of Nil is what initially intrigued me. I have been searching high and low for decent survival novels, with particular interest for ones set on deserted islands. I don’t know what it is, but TV shows like Shipwrecked (RIP), Lost, Survivor and the like really appeal to me. Maybe I lived in the jungle in a past life, or maybe I’m subconsciously preparing myself for a future plane crash. I don’t know.

In Nil, teenagers are randomly disappearing from their homes and towns, and turning up on Nil, this mysterious island that seems to be only inhabited by other teenagers and cats. The teenagers have a year to get off the island through one of the portals, or something terrible will happen. The book follows Charley as she arrives on the island, and struggles to return home.

Nil is told from two points of view: Charley’s, and Thad’s. Obviously, they are the main pairing of the book, and so the majority of the their thoughts are about each other. I liked reading from Charley’s point of view a lot. She’s new to the island, whereas Thad was more of a veteran. It was interesting to discover the island alongside her, as she tried to figure out if anyone else was on the island, why the hell there were random zebra running around, and how to get home.

Thad, on the other hand, was a little dull. All he seemed to think about was Charley, and it became a little boring. He wasn’t a very well rounded character at all, and I often found myself rushing to get back to Charley’s chapters. She was a much more relatable and interesting protagonist.

The characters were not this book’s strong point. There was little development for the main characters, let alone the abundance of secondary characters that were introduced throughout the novel. Matson didn’t do a very good job with them, which is a shame because an ensemble cast could have added a lot to the novel. None of the characters were particularly well fleshed out, and that includes Charley, although she was definitely the best of the bunch.

The plot as Charley and co. search for portals to escape the island was good, as it was fast paced and captivating, even thrilling at times, especially when the characters were chasing after the moving portals. I would have loved it if there were more survival bits included, such as hunting, building, running from predators, discovering new places, and all that jazz. But instead the romance took up most of the story, and it became really grating, especially since there was little build up between the two characters. They got together very early on in the book, and it left little to be desired.

Quite honestly, I was expecting more from the island itself. I admittedly went into Nil with very high expectations for it, something on a Lost kind of level, but I didn’t get much out of it. There was very little explanation as to what the island was and how it came to be, and where and why and all that. There were a couple of theories thrown around, one of which seemed the most plausible, but this was only given a couple of paragraphs and one conversation throughout the entire novel. If you’re looking for a book that uncovers the overall mystery before it ends, Nil is not it.

I enjoyed Nil a lot, and it numbed my craving for desert island for a couple of weeks, but it’s not particularly memorable. The mystery is very disappointing, especially as it’s the most important part of the novel. Matson spends too much time on the romance for my liking, and I found myself becoming very frustrated because I wanted answers.

You Might Also Enjoy

7 comments on “Nil by Lynne Matson

  1. Juhina 17/04/2014 3:57 pm

    Like you, I love survival novels! I had my eyes on NIL but now i don’t know.. i need good characters and development.. and knowing the island setting itself wasn’t fully utilized and you wanted more of it.. i don’t know if i’m interested anymore. Great review Amber! also, definitely check out The Raft, i LOVED the survival setting of that.. also A Matter of Days 😀

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    • Amber 18/04/2014 11:36 am

      *high five* Survival novels are my jam, except there aren’t enough of them! Have you read Ashfall by Mike Mullin? That’s a post apocalyptic survival novel and is all kinds of awesome.

      Thank you! Oh, The Raft has been on my wishlist FOR-EVER. I’ve never heard of A Matter of Days, though. *to Goodreads*

  2. Kara @ Great Imaginations 18/04/2014 11:29 am

    I feel much the same way as you, but I think this book annoyed me even more. I was supposed to be on the tour, but I ended up posting an excerpt because the romance was so grating on my nerves that I had to put it down. I picked it back up again and flipped to the end to see how it finished, and man am I glad I quit when I did. Such a disappointing book and corny romance. BLAH.

    • Amber 18/04/2014 11:38 am

      Yep, the romance was a giant let down for me. There was no build up or tension at all! And the ending… good lord, I need closure.

  3. Renu 18/04/2014 11:47 am

    *sigh* It sucks when a books doesn’t live up to its premise. And ughh, I hate when the romance takes center stage. Under developed character as well? I think I’ll be passing on this one.

    Hope your next read is more enjoyable, Amber. 🙂

    • Amber 18/04/2014 12:25 pm

      It really does, and it happens quite a lot, unfortunately! I think within YA, authors or editors feel like they need to amp up the romance and tone everything else down. NO. STOP. I want gore and a focus on individual characters and death and action… I sound a bit crazy.


  4. I’m sad that you didn’t love this one! I really love survival stories, too, especially ones set on islands. I think Lost made me that way! I’ll have to check out Shipwrecked! And I don’t mind dual narrators, but I hate it when you really like one narrator’s story more than the other, and you’re just wanting to get back to their story! Great review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.