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Nil by Lynne Matson eARC {3.5 Stars}

Nil by Lynne Matson is the story of a mysterious island that teens randomly get transported to and the relationships that form when people are trying to survive and get off this dangerous island even though they’re falling in love. I knew going in from other reviews that Nil was going to be heavy on the romance and I think that preparation helped me have reasonable expectations. Nil is a fast read with insta-love that makes at least some sense, but don’t hold your breath for an explanation about how the island works.

Note: I received Nil through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Nil by Lynne Matson eARC {3.5 Stars}

Nil by Lynne Matson
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on March 4, 2014
Genres: Sci-fi, Thriller, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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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.

3.5 Stars


  • Nil’s premise hooked me from the beginning. I was a huge fan of Lost and really excited about a book with another supernatural island. Given that the characters have a limited amount of time to get off the island before they are guaranteed to die, you know that Nil is going to be fast-paced and thrilling.
  • Nil pulls off packing a year’s worth of time into a mid-size book quite well. Day to day life on the island is how you would expect it and Matson is able to describe the activities of the slow periods succinctly. I got a good feel for the fact that time was passing without being annoyed that things were dragging. This all adds up to Nil delivering on the promise of a fast-pace. We get to read about the exciting scenes without too many doldrums in between ;-).
  • While at first you might say omg insta-love, ew, Nil actually posited a believable explanation for the fast connection between our main characters! For one thing, when you’re on an island, things are bound to move quickly right? For another, Nil seems to be a semi-sentient island and think about how evil it is to make islanders meet their soul mates just to put a ticking clock on their time together! I like this explanation for the fast relationship progression, haha.
  • Nil makes it clear right from the beginning that no one is safe on this island. Some characters make it successfully off, but a lot don’t. The believability that this grittiness added really sold me on the ending scenes of Nil since I really didn’t know what was going to happen for a bit.


  •  While I was okay with the explanation of the relationship between Charley and Thad, their declarations of love got a bit over the top. There were seriously about a paragraph of dialogue of them talking about how much they love each other; it gets old fast!
  • There are no real answers about what Nil is or how it really works. A couple of characters posit hypotheses, but this book is not about figuring out the island of Nil, it’s about Charley and Thad falling for each other and trying to survive. I kind of hope that a second book is in the works where the surviving characters try to figure out where Nil is and how to save everyone, that would give me the answers I crave!
  • Some of the phrasing in Nil got repetitious. There is only so many times I need Thad to emphasize the darkness of Nil in a single scene before I want him to snap out of it.


Nil is an enjoyable book for what it is: a romantic thriller with a bit of sci-fi because of the setting. A bit of my Lost craving was definitely satisfied by reading Nil and I think going into it knowing that it would be more romance than sci-fi helped my enjoyment quite a bit. I’m sure a lot of you will love it if you like lighter sci-fi that relies heavily on character dynamics ;-).

3.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Nil by Lynne Matson

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Yep, I felt about the same way. Overall, an enjoyable read. The dialog was a bit iffy at times and a little too lovey for my tastes. I think it was a successful book and was entertaining. I wanted a bit more science fiction though. Great review Anya!

  2. The romance and lack of answers will probably keep me away from this one, but thanks for the great review!
    Kel recently posted…Cress by Marissa Meyer (3 stars)My Profile

    • Yeah, I was nervous going in since I had already read about those problems and it definitely annoyed me :(

  3. LeKeisha Thomas says:

    I haven’t read it yet, but I have it. BTW, I finished The Winner’s Curse. Loved it!!

  4. I was really looking forward to reading this, then wary when I head insta-love, and now I want to read it again! I really, really don’t like insta-love and have never seen the point in it. When I want two characters to be together and it takes a while I become more invested in the story and love it more, whereas when it’s shoved in my face I just get annoyed.

    Old follower :D
    ★ Under The Mountain ★
    Vickie Ramage recently posted…Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR ListMy Profile

    • There is definitely a pretty fast connection between the two, but I guess it didn’t bother me as much because of the extremity of the setting ya know?

  5. Ok I value your opinion a lot and while I mostly just read I feel compelled to comment or rather….ask a question. I have been really interested in reading this but is it romance with a splash of sci fi or is it about equal amounts? I do not like romance as a central plot device so I would really like to know but I didn’t read your entire review because I didn’t know if it had spoilers :)


    • Aw, I’m so happy to hear that :D. The romance is definitely a central plot device, in fact the plot really in addition to trying to survive the island. It is dual PoV between the two characters and their priorities are each other and only vaguely trying to figure out the island :-/. It’s very much a romance with a sci-fi setting unfortunately!

      • Bummer but thank you for your response :) I am just getting in to Sci Fi/Fantasy as a genre and I love YA so I thought this would be a good book to try. I just finished Mistborn yesterday and it is my first experience with a major epic fantasy and I am so satisfied that I cannot believe I waited this long to try. Off to buy the next 2 installments today :)

        • Omg yey! Sanderson is really an amazing author to get into fantasy with and I highly encourage you to check out all his other series too ;-).


  1. […] Unlocked by Lynne Matson is the sequel to NIL, but features a different couple and is quite easy to jump into with having read the previous book. […]

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