Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Nil by Lynne Matson

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Nil by Lynne MatsonNil by Lynne Matson
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on March 4th 2014
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. 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 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.

Survivor meets Lost (pre epic fail) in this exciting survivalist story set on a bizarre island filled with monstrous beasts and only one way out, and if you miss your chance to leave, you die. Imagine walking to the store when this heat wave comes, and suddenly you find yourself naked and having to rough it out in this unnatural wild with countless death traps and no supplies or food other than what you can find on the island. Luckily, Charley found others in the same predicament. I found it rather ingenious, the way these kids built a kind of society where everyone does what they can, pulling their own weight to survive this alternate dimension of sorts they were all unfortunate to land into. As a result, the book has a large cast of characters that we meet throughout. Some you get to know more than others. Some you’ll like, others you’ll hate. Don’t get too attached, however; deaths are frequent, and often unexpected.

Mostly, we focus on our two main characters. Told in dual POV, we’ve got Charley who’s tougher than she thought and able to take what’s thrown at her. She’s also very intelligent and starts to study the island; what it all means, patterns, clues, etc. This is what I enjoyed the most – I craved answers! Then we’ve got Thad, a leader with a lot of anger towards this Nil island. I liked both characters well enough, but they still could have used some more characterization. I didn’t get to know them well enough to be fully invested. The two POVs were also very much alike. Their voices almost identical. And an annoyance for me was Thad’s Canadian stereotype. While we do say it occasionally, we don’t actually finish every other sentence with “eh”. That on top of him mentioning Canadian only stores and the fact that he loves hockey and has an affinity for snow was a bit overkill. (And he had to explain that SportChek – which was misspelled – was a Canadian sporting goods store because it’s not obvious enough). Anyways, in the end this was easy enough to ignore and did wane off in the second half, thankfully.

The major disappointment in this novel was the romance. Charley and Thad meet each other on Charley’s 12th day, and as soon as they do it’s all about how hot he is, how perfect her legs are… On her 13th day she was already going on about how she “couldn’t imagine Nil without Thad”. On her 26th day Thad knew he loved her. On her 33rd day (remember they met on day 12!) they declared love to each other and knew they were meant-to-be. Bleh. What could have been a fantastic survivalist story with awesome twists and clever discoveries was crushed by love and romance and how-will-I-go-on-without-yous. I get what the author was going for, though. This doomed-from-the-star tragic love story was a good angle, but it lacked the foundation that it needed to put readers in the right emotional state.

Nevertheless, the mystery of the island kept me fully captivated. It had me theorizing until the end, wondering what misfortune would be brought upon them next, but also curious about the mechanics of this island and its meaning – though I can’t say I was altogether satisfied with the answers or lack thereof. The final part was the most exciting and incredibly adrenaline filled; running for the gate on Thad’s final chances of survival. I was quite surprised by the turn this took (I also thought this was the first in a series), but I was equally unsurprised by the happily ever after ending.

While it may be leaning on the lower end of a 3-star rating, it’s not a bad book and I did find it was entertaining throughout most of it. It just could have been so much more! It had incredible potential that got consumed by this epic insta-love romance that, regrettably, lacked the emotional impact this story was clearly going for.


3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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30 Responses to “Review: Nil by Lynne Matson”

  1. Kristin@Blood,Sweat and Books

    I LOVED Nil all the way up to the last 3% of the book and then it crashed and burned on me. Ugh, so frustrating. I definitely get some of your points though especially about the romance which again ties into that ending. Anyway…Great Review. The Author said she might write a companion book but I hope we get a proper sequel and find out the previous ending was all in Charley’s head.

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, insta-love. A blight in the YA genre that should be exterminated with extreme prejudice. I’m excited about this book otherwise (though the IL dims my initial happy dance).

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m sorry this was a disappointment to you, Giselle. It sounds like it has a really cool concept and this seems to the kind of story where the romance ruins things. Gosh, insta-love. How I hate it!
    I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up.
    Great review!

  4. Amanda @ Book Badger

    Aww I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this book more Giselle, I know you were really looking forward to it and were really excited, it’s a shame it deliver completely. I don’t think I could get to grips with the romance, it would frustrate me a feel, and when there’s dual points of view, I like to be able to tell the difference quite easily, so it’s a shame, however, I’m glad it wasn’t a total wash for you. Still, great review as always 🙂

  5. Siiri

    I’m glad this has a great mystery, but the romance really puts me off. Everyone, well almost everyone, points out the insta-love and the love interest in a negative light and I cannot handle my romance like that. I need slow-burn. There are exceptions, but I don’t think this will be it. I’m glad that you enjoyed this overall though:)

  6. Vi

    Haha, sorry the author cheesed it up with the Canadian stereotypes and such. I know what you mean, I have CA friends and they definitely don’t say “eh” all the time. Sucks the romance was a bust, you know how much I live for those, lol. Great review!

  7. Tiffany H. (@a_tiffyfit)

    Sounds like it was a fun read for all the theorizing, even if it fell flat a bit. Shame about the romance though. I’m getting tired of insta-love romances! Or the ones where the guy is a total jerkwad and the girl falls for him anyway. Makes me want to shake the girl and ask WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU! lol

  8. Candace

    I think that the fact there’s frequent deaths that this wouldn’t be for me. I just get SO STRESSED OUT with books like this! Sorry it wasn’t a tad better for you though!

  9. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I read almost the entire book before I could not take it anymore due to the romance. I did like the plot and the setting enough but the romance made me want to gag over its gushiness/instalove. I couldn’t take a second more so I DNFed. It was just not worth it. And it was a huge disappointment for me because I was really looking forward to this one. 🙁 I agree with your review completely, though I probably disliked it a bit more than you did. ;P

  10. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Okay so I officially hate my laptop because every time I try to scroll up I end up hitting the backspace button and erasing my entire comment. *cries* Anywho, I didn’t notice the Canadian stereotyping but I can deifnitely see how it would get annoying and kind of tiresome. Also, I totally agree about the romance. While the desperation of the island kind of made it justifiable, the fact that it was so rushed still made it annoying to go through. Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  11. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    I know the Canadian thing will probably drive me bonkers. I’m always overly excited about Canadian characters and usually do pick up inconsistencies. The insta love on top of that? I don’t know if this would be the best book for me. The mystery sounds intriguing, but I was hoping this one was more of an action read than a romance.

  12. JennRenee

    I really wish authors would get over the insta love. I don’t mind insta like. They are teenagers for goodness sake. But lets cool it down just a little. Sounds like an exciting read though and I am excited to read it. great review.

  13. April

    oh no, not the dreaded insta love. bleh. I do still love the cover, and I’m curious about it, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to get it. 🙂 I love survivor so maybe I’ll love this one.

  14. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh gosh, I read that originally as “they met when they were 12” and I was like, woah. What kind of book is this? Insta-12-year-old-loves? >_< THEN I read it again. Phewf. But still, even if they aren't 12 years old, I'm not a fan of insta love! It feels like cheating, really, instead of getting to the know the characters and seeing things develop. Awesome review! This is kind of on my wish-list, but I don't think I'll be rushing into it.

  15. Melliane

    lol it’s nice to know about the canadian thing. I didn’t know this one but it seems like with a common topic the author managed to do something a little more original and it’s intriguing. It’s nice to know because I think I wouldn’t have taken it otherwise.

  16. Anatea @ Anatea's Bookshelf

    Nil sounds like a really interesting book with a great storyline, but somehow romance makes me kind of doubt if I will be reading this one. Nobody likes insta romance, but still, a lot of authors still do it. And I’m not quite sure how I would feel about Thad’s canadian thing, I don’t really like stereotypes, but I guess I’ll have to read the book to find out!

  17. Wendy Darling

    Hmmm. I hate it when stories get sidetracked by romance, but I loooove survival stories so I’m still hopeful this one will work for me! It’s good to have tempered expectations, though. I’m glad you still liked it overall, though, despite a few issues.

  18. Alice

    Nil does sound like a really interesting book. The synopsis has me hooked. I’ve heard from several people that the romance isn’t as good as it could be which is a shame, but it’s good that the mystery of the island kept you hooked nevertheless. It’s always a shame when certain elements of a story bring the book down from the emotionally impact that the story could have had.

    Great review Giselle! 😀

  19. Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

    Ugh. Another pretty cover wasted on a book with instalove. It’s not that I truly mind instalove. But in a story like this I feel like maybe a more friendship relationship with just hints of romance would have been more emotionally impacting than straight the-world-revolves-around-you kind of love. Still, I might give this one a try anyway since it’s just the romance that’s lacking. Glad it was still entertaining!

  20. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    Oh no! I was really excited for this one, but I think I’ll still read it…just have to lower my expectations just a tad. I can definitely see how the romance could be completely bothersome (boo for instalove!), and the Canadian stereotyping sounds so tedious! At least it was entertaining and suspenseful enough to keep you interested though! Thanks for sharing Giselle, and, as always, brilliant review! 😀

  21. Rashika

    Romance in books can have the ability to either make or break a book for me. I can be very nit picky with romances so if there is heaps of insta-love… (especially declarations of love in a manner of 3 weeks), then I am going to have a really bad time.

    I am a huge fan of survival stories (or… at least I was at some point.. I cannot remember the last time I read a good ole tale of survival) so it really sucks that this book had a lot of potential, but then the characters became obsessed with each other (and not on survival?).

    Lovely Review, Giselle! 🙂

  22. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I agree that the insta-love was a bit overtaking of the story, but I guess I tried to understand the situation and kind of understood how they fall so quick. I have never been counting the days until my life will end so I imagine that puts an urgency on things. I did think that the whole island and trying to figure it out was pretty cool. I liked this a bit better than you did and can understand the things that didn’t work for you. Fab review love!!!

  23. Lauren

    I’m so on the fence about this one! I’ve read some super positive reviews, and then many more negative reviews, so I don’t know whether I want to try it. I do like the sound of the world and the premise, and I’m glad to hear it has an interesting mystery, but the insta-love definitely doesn’t sound appealing to me. I think I’m probably going to skip this one after all. Thanks for your honest review!