by Lynne Matson
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan (March 4, 2014)
Genre: Young Adult – 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.
Thanks to Andye for hosting me on Reading Teen as a guest blogger! You can check me out over at Becoming Books on the regular.
Told from the alternating point of views of Charley and Thad, NIL unleashes her mysteries and harsh realities on the island's teens 365 days a year. Thad is convinced his destiny is fated in his role as NIL's pawn he works hard to avoid/ deny his attraction to Charley. Charley is whip smart in using her athletic prowess to survive on her own before living in the City with Thad and a dozen of other international teens. Between the two of them you have a power 'ship that dares to take on NIL to preserve their time together.
Basically all you need to know is that I adored this read and this is why..
- Charley and Thad are people you want to root for. While insta-love is frowned up this is why it works on NIL... 1) Time is finite, 365 days to be exact. Even less since Thad is already on the island 278 days when he discovers Charley on her day 12. 2) Charley and Thad do spend some time a part before deciding they didn't want to waste anymore time. Together they rule beach volleyball, watch each other's backs and eventually bring hope to the City.
- The diversity. This easily could've been an island filled with Americans but instead we're introduced to characters from Canada, Britain, Italy, Africa and more. Each character brings a skill set to the island, a new language and perspective.
- The humanity. Unlike similar reads, a la Lord of the Flies, the teenagers run a tight community preserving the humanity of each member though duty, loss and mutual respect for life. These teens have major feels and grow up fast.
- The science and mystery behind NIL. I'm a geek so I have a soft spot for explanations. While Charley is trying to figure out her best chance for survival she takes up mapping the island and occurrences of outbound and inbound shimmers. As her work progresses she starts making some logical discoveries. Her theories carry the second half of the novel while changing the way the City operates.
- Thad's relationship with NIL. Thad refers to NIL as a woman, almost godly in some aspects. He believes she is intentionally twisted in her actions on the island and that they maybe personal. This leads to some very introspective moments where he's questioning any control in his destiny to leave the island.
Things that made me go... meh...
- Fate vs. Luck. This is a recurring theme, specifically tying in with Thad's internal struggle to understand NIL and his ability to leave the island. This also ties into why everyone is on the island or how people are chosen to arrive. However, the theme falls short failing to solidify the theory with the science, if there is any, of NIL. I would liked to have seen this flushed out a bit more to give the next two points some foundation.
- The science and mystery behind NIL. While the sci-fi concepts are really cool there are some loose ends that are not tied up in the end. Some half-explanations that just leave you going 'what happened with theory xx?' Since this is a standalone I can see why this may have been left out for pacing purposes, but I still want answers.
- The ending. I feel like it was a bit to conveniently thrown together. Without the explanations from above I'm left feeling rushed. Once again this may be due to NIL being a standalone, but I would rather have had 50 more pages to wrap it up...with a bow.
In the end, NIL just keeps showing her nasty face while the reader counts down the days in hopes of luck and fate saving the City's favorite couple. It's a wild ride and worth every page so get reading!
Meghann @ Becoming Books
This novel contains heavy violence, moderate(?) sexuality, and mild language. There's hugging, kissing, and a conversation about sex. There is violence involving animals and "natural" forces, and multiple character deaths.