Nil (Nil Series #1)
  • Nil (Nil Series #1)
  • Nil (Nil Series #1)

Nil (Nil Series #1)

4.8 10
by Lynne Matson

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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

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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, in this thrilling debut novel by Lynne Matson.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Matson makes a strong debut with this tense, cinematic struggle for survival on a peril-filled island that may have some readers flashing back to episodes of Lost. A mysterious portal transports 17-year-old Charley to the possibly sentient and certainly capricious island of Nil, where she encounters a community of teens who have also been stolen from the lives they once knew. While circumstances remain clouded in uncertainty, Charley quickly learns the chief rule: she has one year to find and catch a portal home (these "gates" appear and vanish at will), or she will die. When Charley falls for handsome Thad, whose own deadline swiftly approaches, she must choose between love and survival, with no guarantee either will last. Matson's eye for detail and skillful characterizations fuel a fast-paced story that blends beauty, horror, romance, and adventure. A memorable cast of attractive and resourceful teens, along with the lush and deadly island, offer an effective hook, while the story's psychological intrigue, cleverly subverted expectations, and slow unveiling of information contribute genuine drama. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Unter, the Unter Agency. (Mar.)
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Hilary Crew
Seventeen-year-old Charley is engulfed by a wave of shimmering heat as she crosses the Target parking lot in Roswell, Georgia. She burns, then freezes, before all becomes dark. She wakes, naked and alone, in a red Martian-like setting. Avoiding more “shimmers,” she finds a boy’s abandoned shorts and bandana, traverses a changing landscape, and finally camps on the tree line of a black beach, where she meets Thad, the leader of the teens in the “City.” Charley and Thad tell, in alternating chapters, how teenagers survive on the parallel world of Nil, which, underneath the façade of an island paradise, harbors dangerous animals and the threat of death. Charley learns that each teen has 365 days to catch an outgoing “shimmer” or “gate” to escape Nil; if they fail, they die. Matson brings a unique twist to a survival story with similarities to the TV reality show Survivor. She populates her teen community with compelling characters who make choices to follow or disregard the rules that govern their survival and escape, including the imperatives of using their skills to sustain the community and working together in “search” teams to locate outgoing gates for those nearing their last chance to leave. Matson’s writing is vivid, whether describing Nil’s false beauty or teens’ desperate attempts to catch fast-moving gates. The deep love between Charley (who maps the island and sequence of gates) and Thad—and the intensity of their conflicted emotions as Thad reaches his last day—adds depth to a strongly written fantasy. Reviewer: Hilary Crew; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When you wake up on the Island of Nil, the rules are simple: you have exactly one year to get off, or you die. That is the predicament that 17-year-old Charley finds herself in when she awakens, naked and alone, plucked from the parking lot of the local Target by a random Nil gate. Eventually, she meets a group of fellow refugees and discovers that teens have been sent here for dozens, possibly, hundreds, of years. When she meets Thad, one of the leaders of the Nil community, she finds the boy of her dreams, and suddenly Charley is determined that she and Thad will get off the island so they can have a life together back home. But Nil is a hard place to survive; escape gates come only once a day, always precisely at noon, and they could pop up anywhere on the island. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Charley and Thad, this story adequately captures their growing love and desperate need to save each other as the clock continues to tick. The concept of Nil is very interesting and well constructed. Teenagers aren't the only creatures the gates bring to the island; there is wildlife pulled in from everywhere, so the danger from wild beasts is always a real threat. While there is conflict and tragedy, Matson seems to have a high opinion of the good nature and resourcefulness of kids left to their own devices. Overall, this book hits its mark.—Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX

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Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Nil Series, #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.50(d)
HL570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Inexplicable, consuming heat—choking like smoke, burning like fire.
That was my last memory before the invisible flames spiked into icy nothingness, along with the crazy thought that if I survived this bewildering bonfire, my dad would freak when I was late returning his new car.
AUGUST 10, 11:56 A.M.
Dang, it’s hot.
I’d been out of the car for all of one minute, and I was already roasting like a skinny rotisserie chicken. The asphalt radiated heat. Shifting my feet, I fumbled with Dad’s keys, dying to climb back into his Volvo with its arctic air-conditioning and new car smell.
Instead, I grabbed the plastic bag from the back seat and slammed the door. I had fifty dollars’ worth of clothes to return. Fifty dollars of my hard-earned summer babysitting money, wasted on two silly skirts I never should’ve bought in the first place. The minis were crazy short, and on me, they looked downright skanky. I’d never wear them, and had Em or Jen been with me, they wouldn’t have let me put the darn skirts in the cart.
But yesterday, like today, it was just me.
Well, crap, I thought, biting my lip as I stared at the empty car. I hated being alone. I always had, and I hated that I hated it. I mean, I’d never even gone to see a movie by myself and secretly envied people who could. The truth was, I’d never had to be alone. My sister, Em, was always around, or Jen, my best friend since second grade. Or both.
Until now.
A fresh wave of loneliness washed over me with the heat; it was the same wave I’d felt when we’d dropped Em off at college last week, and again yesterday when I’d watched Jen board a plane bound for Milan. My two favorite people, gone.
Not forever, I reminded myself. I refused to pitch a pity party in the Target lot. It’s just a few months, four at the most. Jen’s study abroad program ended in December. By Christmas, life would be good, and our senior spring would rock. Until then, I had volleyball. Practices would keep me busy, and games would keep me focused. And I’d visit Em in Athens every chance I could.
Feeling slightly better, I locked Dad’s car and faced the open lot. Asphalt as black as coal stretched before me, broken only by lonely white lines. Park in the far corner, Dad had said, tossing me his keys with a wink. Catching the keys, I’d smiled. I love you too, Dad.
Of course I’d parked in the far corner. No other car was anywhere close.
Now that I was walking, far wasn’t the word. It was like I’d parked in dadgum Egypt, and I’d swear it was just as hot. Not that I’d ever been to Egypt, but I couldn’t imagine it was any hotter than Georgia in August. The Target bull’s-eye flashed like fire in the distance. Near the lot’s center, the asphalt shimmered in the heat. I watched the ground blur, absently thinking of a desert oasis. It was the kind of shimmer that moves with you … moves away, always out of reach.
Not this one. This shimmer stretched into the air, rippling like a wall of wavy glass. Then it rolled.
Toward me.
In the time it took to blink, the air in front of me melted. It undulated, like a wave of liquid crystal, and before I could breathe, the wave engulfed me in a silent rush.
Hot air gripped me like a vise, then burst into flames. Every speck of skin screamed; every nerve ending exploded.
I’m being flash-fried in the Target lot! The thought ripped through my brain as the invisible flames drove deeper. I tried to scream, but choked on the heat; it was in my mouth, in my lungs, in me, like a living darkness I couldn’t shake. Blistering tar coursed through my veins, then filled my chest, stealing my air and slicking behind my eyes.
A darkness blacker than asphalt rushed at me; I fell to meet it. My last sensation was of icy cold. A biting cold as raw and as painful as the heat had been seconds before, and then—nothing.
No light. No sound.
No air.

Text copyright © 2014 Lynne Mason

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