Not this deserted island, please.

NIL ★★
Lynne Matson
Henry Holt
Expected publication: March 4th, 2014

***

nilA free copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.

I really want to tear this book a new one, but it would be the equivalent of beating the shit out of the 80 pound asthmatic kid at school who wears glasses and stealing his lunch money.

See, here’s the problem: I picked up this book with entirely different expectations of what it’s actually about. The blurb caught my eye immediately:

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.

My mind immediately began racing with awesome possibilities and potential — Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, Battle Royale, The Long Walk — yeah, no. NIL is not any of these, not even close. What I should have done was keep reading the plot summary after that initial sexy blurb, which states:

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.

BUT I DON’T WANT A TEENAGE LOVE STORY ON A DESERTED ISLAND!!!

I want death games, and blood and danger and action and running and characters I can root for and scream in agony when they meet horrible, unpredictable ends.

Yeah, that is so not this book. There’s a little bit of that — about 13.36% (the rest is all lurve and angst of the teenage variety, my favorite kind). If the author really wants to have a love story (and let’s face it, these days it’s almost impossible to publish a YA novel without one), then it should have been more balanced. There are some great ideas and plot devices introduced here, but none of them ever get the attention they deserve, or are they ever fully fleshed out.

Young teens put off by violence seeking a more tepid adventure on a desert island may find some appeal here. I found it mostly pedestrian, safe and largely unsatisfying. The only positive I can think to throw out right now is that at least there was no love triangle. At least there was that.

This review has also been posted to Goodreads.

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