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 dieSeventeen-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.Publishes in US: March 4th 2014 by Henry Holt
Genre: YA Sci-fi
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I requested to read Nil from Netgalley because I am drawn to the survival type stories. I loved the premise of 365 to escape, and the emotions that the teens would have with this deadline and with friends who disappear or die. I was also curious as to how they would band together and survive.
I enjoyed the dual perspective from this one. While I connected the most with Charley, the female protagonist, I also loved being in Thad's head, seeing another perspective of this dangerous, wild yet beautiful island and way of life, as well as how he views Charley. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite perspectives especially with a guy and girl and figuring out how they see the situation and what their feelings are instead of guessing.
Charley is strong, smart and has serious survival skills. Well, she develops them anyways. She goes for 12 days alone on the island, finding things to eat, and hiding from predators, even befriending a goat. She rightly wonders how she ended up there and how to get home. She is wary when Thad finds her but eventually goes with them and discovers a city on the messed up island of Nil where they make their own clothes, soap, and food. They have some kids that are good at specific skills and they use other things that were already on the island. The kids have a glider and search teams that go out and search for gates, which appear once a day at noon, usually a single gate, but sometimes 2, 3 or even the rarest 4, which Charley saw on her first day.
The thing that bothered me was figuring out how the island came to exist, how the kids get there, and who choses. I lost myself in the story, and I understand that the kids wouldn't know anything, but I just kept thinking, where on earth is this, and how does it work. This didn't really take away much from my enjoyment, I was immersed in Charley and Thad, their chemistry and their fight to survive.
The romance was nice. Although there was immediate attraction to each other, they weren't declaring their love the next day. Things did move fast but one of the things that becomes ingrained in you while living on Nil is that a year isn't really that long--and in this dangerous world you aren't even guaranteed that long. They formed their friendship with Thad as an "island guide" when she makes the decision to come back to Nil City with him, and they really connect. They are able to share their fears, and spend time together and it makes being on Nil a little bit better, and at times they can forget the tick-tock of their days to escape or the idea of death hanging over their heads.
I loved how Charley searched for her place, her niche on the island. Thad is a natural leader and able to assess and make decisions quickly and more than that, the teens respect him. She wanted to understand how the gates worked and more about the island, and she used her brains and the information that others overlooked in their determination to survive and used her analytic mind to figure out something that helped not only the group there but future Nil inhabitants.
The secondary characters were amazing too. Talla was the strong competitive type, Natalie was the big sister, take you under her wing that we all want, Rives is funny and charming but strong and also one of the in charge guys. They all had their own voices and stories to tell, emotions, dreams and supported each other.
I was so worried about how Ms. Matson was going to wrap up their story because I kept going over and over possible scenarios and deciding that most of them were heartbreaking and before even getting there, trying to decide what I could live with and not want to throw the book across the room. I got into their story and characters and the sweet and passionate romance between the two that much. But she did it in one of the ways that I didn't even consider and I was pleasantly content with this book, the place it left Thad and Charley in respects to their characters, what they learned on the island and their outlooks on life.
I thought so much about this story, even after it was over. It really shows the unity of the kids and how they worked together to survive in an unknown, where predatory animals came through on inbound gates at random intervals, they had to watch their friends die or disappear, and still they fought for others to get home and help each other survive. Also, I admired Charley's tenacity and Thad's strong leadership and protectiveness of the whole city but especially Charley.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you think you could make it in a survivor type situation?