(Image from Barnes & Noble)
The last thing 17-year-old Charley Crowder remembers doing is standing in the Target parking lot in Roswell, Georgia, clutching a bag full of clothes she needed to return. Which makes no sense at all. How did she go from doing the most ordinary task in the world to waking up naked in a bed of rocks on a deserted island? It's not an ordinary island either—some kind of weird juju swirls in its tropical air. But what does it mean? How did she get to this mysterious place? Why is she all alone? And how does she return to her life in Georgia?
Just when Charley's convinced she's going to die alone on the island, she meets Thad Blake, a 17-year-old snowboarder from Whistler, Canada. The leader of a small, ragtag band of teenage refugees, Thad welcomes her into their village and tries to explain the rules of the strange world they call NIL. No one understands all the ins and outs of the place, but there is one indisputable point: each of the island's residents has exactly 365 days to escape the island or else they die. Thad's time is running out, a fact that distresses Charley the more she gets to know—and love—him. If they're going to have any kind of future together, they both need to get back to the real world. The key to freedom is figuring out how NIL works. Charley's got some new theories, but can she figure out NIL's mysteries before it's too late? Or will she lose the man of her dreams just when she's finally found him?
I love the whole LOST meets The Maze Runner premise behind Lynne Matson's debut novel, NIL. It promises mystery, adventure, romance, suspense—all the ingredients for a perfect YA thriller. The real question is, does it deliver on its promise? Not exactly. The story does offer plenty of mystery and high-stakes adventure, but it's also plagued with insta-love, underdeveloped characters and plot holes. Not to mention a cheap, anticlimactic ending. I'm not saying the book's not entertaining—it is—I was just hoping for more complexity, more mystery, and better development of both the setting and the characters. In the end, NIL disappointed me a little. Maybe my expectations were too high, but hey, I get excited when I see a premise with such great potential. And it makes me sad when a book doesn't quite reach it. I'd still recommend NIL if you enjoy a quick, entertaining adventure/survival story, just don't expect too much from it.
(Readalikes: reminded me a little of The Maze Runner by James Dashner)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for strong language, violence/gore, mild sexual innuendo/content
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of NIL from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.