Seventeen-year-old Charley is standing in a Target parking lot in her Georgia hometown when she suddenly feels burning hot. The next thing she knows, she is lying on a stretch of rocks with no clue where she is. After surviving alone for twelve days, she meets Thad and Jason, who tell her that she is on the island of Nil. Thad introduces Charley to a group of teenagers who have also been sent to the island and are trying to escape it. The only way to escape the island is through “gates”, which are portions of shimmering air that randomly move across the island. Trying to catch one of the gates is challenging, and another hitch is that each teenager only has a year after they arrive to try to leave Nil or they die. Together Charley, Thad, and the rest of the group are trying to figure out how to catch the gates to escape the island of Nil before their time is up.
This book is very similar to the popular book The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Both books involve teenagers that end up in unfamiliar and dangerous locations and have a limited time to escape before they will die. A unique element of Nil is both Charley and Thad are narrators. This gives the book dual perspectives: Charley is female and an island newcomer; Thad, a male and island veteran. The book is set in the present, which is a nice change from all of the post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels that now dominates much of the young adult genre. The novel is devoted to advancing the plot rather than trying to explain the backstory of how Nil came to exist and why it is the way it is, which helped the island appear more mysterious and dangerous. There are romantic feelings between Charley and Thad, but these only make the situation of being stuck on the island even more complicated than it already is. The ending is very suspenseful and dramatic as Thad’s time is running out. Fans of The Maze Runner or action and adventure novels should check out this book so they can be transported to the mysterious island of Nil.