Author: Lynne Matson
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 4, 2014)
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this science fiction romance by debut author Lynne Matson. I thought that the romance was realistic and the situation the characters were in was really intense.
Charley is out returning some clothes at Target when she is snatched from the parking lot and finds herself waking up naked and alone on a tropical island. She survives on her own for a week before being discovered by Thad and some other islanders. It is immediately love at first sight for the two of them but matters of survival have to take precedence.
Thad brings Charley to the City and tries to tell her what the story is. All of the teens - and there are only teens - arrived the same way. They have learned that the gates that brought them are also the only way back. If they can't catch a gate in 365 days, they die.
When the story begins, Thad is at Day 171 and has been appointed the leader of the City. At first, he is reluctant to start any sort of relationship with Charley because of his fears of leaving her behind by either catching a gate or dying. Eventually, after a few annoying chapters of the characters not talking to each other and ignoring the good advice of the other islanders, they realize that they have to live in the minute.
I liked the survival aspects of the story. I also liked the friendships that develop among the islanders as they try to find a way home. I liked that Charley is the one who finally maps the occurrences of the gates which gives the kids a better chance of getting off the island.
I had a number of questions about the mechanics of the island that remain unanswered at the end of the story. For Thad, Nil is almost sentient and both malicious and capricious. For Charley, the island isn't necessarily sentient. But she believes that each of the teens has to complete some sort of spiritual journey before they can leave. We don't find out which viewpoint, if either, is correct.
Thad and Charley's story is complete but I am still curious about the fates of the other islander who still remain on Nil as the story ends. Fans of Survivor and romance will enjoy this fast-paced story.
For the first time since my feet hit Nil dirt, there was something I wanted more than leaving: time. Time without limits, time to get to know the girl who made me feel alive again. And in that moment, I hated Nil all over again, because she'd given me something she could snatch away, or worse, keep for herself.I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.