Nil by Lynne Matson
Summary: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...
Nil had an extremely entertaining and promising premise – almost reminiscent of the TV series Lost – but, unfortunately, it’s potential was a bit wasted by an annoying heroine and a complete absence of world-building.
Seventeen-year-old Charley is in a Target parking lot when everything turns black. When she awakes, she finds herself naked on a mysterious deserted island. She finds a group of fellow teenage refugees on the island, who inform her that she has 365 days to find a way to escape…or she dies…
One of the things that intrigued me about the story was the deserted island itself; and I think that’s also the place where I found myself disappointed. We never truly find out anything about this island. Is it a parallel universe? An illusion? Or something else entirely? That was my biggest question, but there are so many more as well.
There is no sense of urgency in the setting whatsoever. You would think that with characters struggling to get off the island before their 365 days are up there would be at least some sense of urgency, but not on the island of Nil apparently. Rather, the teens on the island spend their days having bonfires, surfing, paragliding, and hooking up with each other – all in an eye-roll worthy carefree manner.
A fire pit wafted lazy smoke into the air. Around the fire, kids laughed and talked. Two shirtless boys were playing catch with a coconut, throwing it like a football, their shoulders and backs rippling under a sheen of sweat. A girl built like a Playboy bunny was sprinting down the beach beside a tall boy with dreadlocks, like an advertisement for island athletic wear. Other kids floated on surfboards past the whitewater.
Charley was a character that I found a bit hard to enjoy. She is helpless – admitting that she doesn’t know how to bake bread, make a fire, or even bake a cake without using cakemix. She’s also a bit of a Mary Sue, thinking she’s ugly when she is obviously not.
When all the girls grew curves, I’d just stretched, growing like crazy until I hit six feet. Recently my chest had made a small effort to catch up— the key word there was small— but I still had no hips.
Naturally, Charley meets Thad, the “leader” of these teen refugees, and, because it’s YA, they fall in love. Their romance is cheesy and has an extreme case of instalove. One day after meeting each other, Charley remarks that she “couldn’t imagine Nil without Thad;” and 21 days after meeting each other they claim that they are “meant to be.”
That’s it. I’m outta here!