Spontaneous Alpacas in Nil Unlocked || BOOK REVIEW

Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson


Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Author: Lynne Matson
Published: May 2015
Publisher: Square Fish
Pages: 448 {paperback}

Review on Goodreads

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

SO GOOD. Just as good as the first book and I’d been so worried it would be a flop in comparison. I’d struggled to imagine where Matson could take the story from book one but this is wonderfully new and with added elements and I LOVED it. 100% will be reading the third and final book!

Nil Unlocked

This is the second book in the Nil series and it’s absolutely fantastic. The series revolves about this island called Nil. For a long time teenagers – and only teenagers – have appeared on this otherwise uninhabited island via “gates”.

These gates or portals, if you will, transfer the teenagers to the island totally naked and from that point onwards they have one year to escape or they die. Poof. Just drop dead. Book one follows two characters called Thad and Charley and it’s one hell of a riveting ride. In book two, we continue the story from new perspectives – one familiar and one new – which are Rives (from book one) and a girl called Skye.

The sequel faces new and old challenges and brings up plenty of new points to change up the story and make Skye’s experience different from Charley’s so that we’re not just reading the same book over again. We have new theories on the island and how it works, we have new levels of meaning and history to the island itself and heck, we even get an alpaca.

If you haven’t read book one, there will be spoilers for it (but not book two) going forwards.

How It Compares to Book One

I was so unsure going into this how on earth Matson could write a whole new novel based on the same thing as the first. Sure, there are different characters, but how different can it really be? Thanks to the interesting back story Skye brings to the table, EVERYTHING is different.

Skye’s uncle was on Nil and she reads his journal. Her dad’s life-obsession has been trying to find Nil and rescue the teenagers stuck on it. It’s an obsession that’s driven his family apart but in this book Skye relents and joins her dad’s search. And you guessed it, she ends up on Nil.

But! Having read her uncle’s journal and shared theories with her dad, she’s not going in blind. This whole new perspective and outsider’s look on the island changes the game. She knows what’s up from day one and knows what she needs to, to survive. She’s brilliant, resourceful and I can imagine her looking amazing doing Kung Fu.

The book is split perspective again between her and Rives. It was great to have that continuation and not just ditch the on-going story we already had. Rives’ character changes and develops throughout this book a lot, but we’ll get to that in a second. Him being in the leader position since Thad escaped was nice to see but having those familiar characters and an investment in their survival had me so excited for Skye to join the team and bring some answers.

Not only this, but we discover more about the existence of the island and the native islanders who purposefully go to it via a special portal to become a man (essentially). This was a lovely added element that gave a nice backstory and reason for the island to be. Although in hindsight, I’m not sure how totally essential it was for the story. But I liked it, so I’m not going to poke holes in it.

The Characters

I’ve already said that I’m a fan of Skye. I preferred Charley and although they’re honestly quite similar, there was just a genuine edge Charley had on Skye that made me like her more. Skye is very . . . intense. The relationship that develops between her and Rives was both infatuating and infuriating and I wasn’t sure which side of the fence I sat on.

When I wasn’t thinking about it I loved every second of them together but it was very much so an action repeat of Charley-Thad. But, like I said before, the story is just so good and intriguing that I just sort of shrugged off my worries and didn’t care. It’s such an easy series to just enjoy and not get too caught up in. I’m very, very curious to see how Skye changes even more in book three (because dang the blurb has me terrified).

Rives was interesting in this book. I loved Rives in book one and I absolutely freaking adored getting to know him better. He’s so changed since the totally unexpected death of Talla and the weight of leadership is drowning him. The City isn’t doing so well either and you can tell he’s just crumbling. So I was really happy that Skye came along at that point to pull his character back on track so we could enjoy more of the happy-go-lucky Rives we all love.

Paulo is another character worth mentioning. The native islander element was intriguing and brought an unexpected depth to the story. I did think Paulo was an incredibly weak character, however, and I won’t be that upset if he’s not in the next book. He definitely could have benefited from a little more character growth, but I didn’t grow to like him enough to care. Aside from that, other great moments were the cameos we get – those were awesome.


So yeah, I loved this book! There so much going on and I’m really excited to finish off the series to tie it all together. These have been solid 5-star reads for me so I’m going in with high expectations that this will finish with a bang. I’m loving the characters we’re going through and the intricacies of the story – and whenever there’s something that doesn’t quite sit right with me I find Matson has balanced it out well enough with all the good and exciting things that it doesn’t matter. But I’m STRESSING over book three because dang, that blurb sounds intense.

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Happy Reading

~~ Kirstie ~~


4 thoughts on “Spontaneous Alpacas in Nil Unlocked || BOOK REVIEW

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