Ticking Time: A Review of NIL by Lynne Matson

Lynne Matson
384 pages
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LIKED

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.

When seventeen-year-old Charley wakes up on the mysterious, yet beautiful, island of Nil she had no idea where she is or how she got there. Enter Thad, the breathtaking leader of a group of teenagers stuck on the island. Soon, Charley finds out that the beautiful island’s facade is just that – a facade, and behind it all is a clock, counting away the seconds until she – and the others, die if they don’t make it off the island in time.

I have to admit I started this story expecting a book full of danger on every page, action, and adventure. So you have no idea how disappointed I was when NIL was a paradise island, where you have exactly 365 days to get off. Or you’re dead.

But the further I ventured into the world of NIL, the more the suspense grew with a select few characters who were counting down the time. So don’t quit when you’ve read, say, the first half of the story. That part was rather boring, and I *nearly* set it down. But after that, it grew interesting. Incredibly so.

Although there weree no life-threatening dangers and the like, the characters were all deeply fleshed out, and well-written. From all over the world – France, Canada, Switzerland, Pakistan, the USA (of course), to name a few, they were all different and likable. I loved the diversity Lynne Matson included in the pages of her debut. That’s always a plus, because we rarely see different cultures and people in YA.

The origin of Nil wasn’t explained well enough. We had a few guesses here and there, but that was it. Despite that, I really like how Nil wasn’t some dark and dreary island, more like the dream vacation kind.

One major dislike for me was the insta-love, and how many times Charley fantasized about Thad and vice versa. It was annoying, but after a while you get used to it, and the two of them together are kind of sweet.

I really liked the cover change, the first one was rather boring and generic, but the new cover is pretty cool. Dark and mysterious and really compelling.

Judging by the way it ended, I’m guessing NIL is a standalone, something that I’m both glad and a tad bit sad about. Y’know, the usual feeling when you finish a good book. All in all, I enjoyed NIL. I wish all my questions were answered, but alas, you can’t get everything you want.

About the Author

Lynne is a former attorney who thinks writing books for teens is much more fun. :) Her debut novel, NIL, a YA thriller with a SF twist, will be published by Macmillan/Henry Holt on March 4, 2014.

When she’s not writing or reading, you’ll find her hanging out with her husband and their 4 boys, usually at the beach. Cookies are her kryptonite, especially thin mints.

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Asma is a cat-loving co-blogger at IceyBooks. She's a 15 year old homeschooler who spends her time blogging (obviously), reading, and whatever else strikes her fancy. She's also a part time pirate and assassin.



  1. Reply

    Nadia @ Nadia Reads

    February 26, 2014

    It seems pretty interesting, even though it would probably be better if there were more dangerous things happening, but still. Seems like it’s worth a shot!

  2. Reply

    Michelle {Book Hangovers}

    February 26, 2014

    Omg! SO how about I left two comments on your W.o.W post today lol! WHOOPS! anyway, I’m excited for this one. It actually made one of my Waiting on Wednesday’s a couple weeks ago. It reminds me of the movie, The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is based on a book by Alex Garland. I know it’s coming out soon but I might just wait to get it, make it a summer read, laying by the beach! Hmmmm That sounds nice! xoxox

  3. Reply

    Melissa (Books and Things)

    February 26, 2014

    Well, hopefully it will expand into a series. Would then at least make sense as to why all your questions weren’t answered. I do love that it has a lot of different cultures within the book. Makes me want to read it just for that. :)

  4. Reply


    February 27, 2014

    Ohhh I haven’t heard of this one yet, and it sounds interesting! Loving the fact that the characters are so culturally diverse – that is indeed rarely seen in YA. Instalove is always a shame but, at least the other aspects of the book were pretty good. :) I’ll probably check this one out once it’s released. Great review Asma!

  5. Reply

    Mary @ BookSwarm

    February 27, 2014

    While I’m not a fan of insta-love, I do love a fast-paced, action-filled story and NIL sounds like it fits that description beautifully. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to download my Netgalley copy and it was archived. :( Oh, well. There’s always the library!

  6. Reply


    February 28, 2014

    I LOVED THAT YOU LOVED THIS ONE. My review of it just went up today and I pretty much agreed with you on most points, especially the insta love! But still, LOVED this one