Happy Monday, Part two!
As a part of our blog tour stop for NIL Unlocked, we're also reviewing the book as well!
This was one of our MOST anticipated books of 2015, and not surprisingly, Lynne does NOT disappoint. NIL Unlocked is just as thrilling and surprising as NIL, and you absolutely, absolutely need to get this book in your hands ASAP.
Published May 12th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format read: ARC via publisher
Author Lynne Matson proves that she's definitely not one to suffer from the sophomore slump, as she delivers a multi-layered story filled with characters, ideas and plotlines that readers will love, and will be counting down the days before they can revisit them in the third book.
Raiders have grown bolder, supplies are dwindling, and non-human inhabitants have taken a turn toward the deadly. New arrivals cause rifts within the City, putting the Search system at risk, and calling everything Rives knows into question. Desperate for answers, he teams up with the only other person searching for them: Skye, a new arrival with a mysterious past of her own. Soon the duo find themselves locked in a desperate race to save all the residents of Nil—and possibly destroy the island forever. But at what cost? And who will pay the price?
Fortunately for me, Macmillan kindly heard the pleas of a NIL Tribe fangirl, and sent me the ARC. And let me just say: if you liked NIL, you are going to LOVE NIL Unlocked.
Lynne Matson has added another intricate, complex layer to the NIL mythos, and interweaved new characters and backstory into a tale that will keep you guessing and BEGGING for more.
Things that worked:
Similar to the previous book, Matson chooses to utilize alternating points-of-view in NIL Unlocked, focusing on Rives and Skye, a newcomer with an unusual background. .
Rives is now an old hand on the island, trying to keep the peace for the NIL tribe, as they contend with raiders and unexpected island companions. His life is made definitely complicated - though, intriguingly so! - by the arrival of Skye, who may have the tools and foreknowledge to hopefully put an end to NIL, once and for all.
Like NIL, Matson immediately starts off by giving both Rives and Skye a ticking clock for their time on the island. However, the clock is two-fold this time: there's both their respective internal clocks involving the 365-day limit, but there's also a secondary far more complicated timeline, involving possibly stopping the island.
Matson smartly uses Rives and Skye's respective voices to unfold some long-standing mysteries of the island, while also enhancing their understanding of one another. We see very clearly in each respective chapter, traits and quirks of their individual personalities that bond them together, but also contribute to the greater picture of stopping the island.
While I'm a little bemused at the frequent appearance of alternating POVs in YA, I have to say for all aspiring writers: it's Matson who gets it right. Rives and Skye are distinct, challenging characters, who both add to the story, but also thoroughly engage the reader.
NIL Unlocked is a very relationship-centric novel; there's Skye's relationship with her dad and her uncle, her relationship with the islanders, and with the island herself. Rives also has his fair shair of relationships, including with Skye and the island.
While it's never overtly stated, Matson skillfully uses these relationships to subtly explore how unique challenges - e.g. island life - can create unlikely alliances and bonds, and force people to look beyond themselves.
There are some great underlying lessons on how adversity can always bring out the best in all of us, which are definitely worth discussion.
The romantic angle
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves in YA, is when two characters fall for each other in the midst of serious danger. It's exasperating, and takes me out of the story.
Fortunately for all of us, Lynne Matson GETS it. (Also, note to aspiring writers again? This is how you do it!) We see Rives and Skye gently fall for each other, but Matson details the evolution of the relationship with absolute precision.
She clearly shows how there are facets of their respective personalities that work well together, and would obviously attract one another. We also see just how the island setting - dangerous as it can be - can also help them fall for each other, and just why this isn't a relationship built on adrenaline or fear.
Bottom line: I dig it. And I can't wait to see if Rives and Skye come back for book three.
The island mythos
Like NIL, the island is very much her own living, breathing character in NIL Unlocked. She taunts, teases and seduces, but she also very much empathizes with her inhabitants.
It's fascinating to see Matson continue to build the island up as a living entity, and her continuing evolution as a conflicted character. Even though readers are initially predisposed to dislike the island and her role in reeking havoc on those she brings to her shores, it's under Matson's careful guidance that we begin to see that there is a bigger picture to her actions, including an unexpected cultural aspect.
The island has evolved into what she is for a reason, and Matson has begun a study of her character that is sure to become more and more intriguing from now until the next book.
Holy hell. That ENDING.
It wasn't until after reading and actually thinking about the ending, that I realized the sheer brillance and calculated world-building that Matson has put into the final pages of the book. Everything makes sense, and is a fitting (and in one case, terrifying!) end for the fears, trials and obstacles that characters have experienced along the way.
You'll absolutely come to the conclusion that the book couldn't have ended any other way, and that it's also a pefect set up for the third book.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Also, nothing specifically to consider, outside of the fact that I am absolutely dying for the third book!
Not only has she completely maintained the suspense and intrigue of NIL, she's also upped the stakes by fleshing out the back story and mythos of the island. Because we now know the island's intended purpose and the full extent of its capablities, it has considerably upped the stakes for both the characters and the readers, especially as we wait for the third book.
I highly, highly recommend NIL Unlocked and NIL for all readers, full stop. This is one book and one trilogy that you absolutely cannot miss.
About the author:
Lynne Matson grew up in Georgia in a house full of books and a backyard full of gnarly pines. She attended the University of Florida, where she met and married her husband, the cutest boy she's ever seen. Now, Lynne is mother to four amazing boys. A former attorney, she is thrilled to be making a new career in YA fiction. lynnematson.blogspot.com