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Book Review: NIL by Lynne Matson

“On the mysterious island of NIL, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days – to escape – or you die.”

Charley is walking through a parking lot when a bright shimmer engulfs her and she wakes up on what she will soon learn is the island of NIL.  For several days she survives alone, scared and confused.  But then she learns there are others.  And she learns the rules.

You only have 365 days to find a way out or you die.

Among the island inhabitants is Thad.  Charley is falling in love with him, but his time is running out.  With the clock ticking, and desperation growing, Charley makes the ultimate sacrifice for love.

My thoughts:

The concept of this book is very cool, but I thought it got bogged down a little in the middle with the romance portion.  There was more romance than adventure/survival, which is not what I was expecting given the premise of the book.  But that is a matter of personal preference and I can tell you there are a ton of readers who will be enthralled with the romance.

The island itself is pretty darn cool.  Gates appear throughout the day and deposit a variety of people and creatures.  Their goal is to try and find – and catch – one of these quick appearing gates to find a way off the island.  Only one person per gate.  The world building is done pretty well and there is even some guessing from the teens on the island about what, exactly, is happening and why.  It was a unique and interesting concept.  The elements of the island really needed more attention to amp up the compelling parts of the story, but they kind of get drowned at times in the midst of gooey eyes.

I really felt, though, that Matson did a good job of developing her characters and presenting a wide variety of relationships.  And it was interesting to see how the teens organized themselves into a group, innovated with what they had on hand on the island, and how they dealt with various issues like authority and security, for example.

A little Lost crossed with Lord of the Flies, there is action, betrayal, and the quest for survival packaged with some friendship and romance.  Bottom line, I can totally see teens reading this and it has wide appeal.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Coming in March 2014 from Henry Holt and Company.  ISBN: 978-0-8050-9771-9
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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