Nathan Hill’s 600-page debut is a novel about life; the decisions we make and consequences. It asks the big questions. The Nix often left me thinking about what I had just read for the rest of the day making my senses and perception of life heightened – I was so actively conscious of everyone around me and their detailed lives that were somewhat impossibly as detailed as my own.
The timescale in The Nix ranges from the late 1960s to 2011 meaning that we see at least two generations-worth of life in Hill’s novel. The great thing about his use of timescale (and multiple characters’ perspectives) is that everything is so interesting. There’s never a dull moment (besides the 10 page-long sentence about ¾ of the way through). Each of the characters has flaws, but not irritatingly so. They’re people, they make mistakes. I never found myself sighing at a certain character’s chapter thinking, “oh no, not this character again!” Another awesome thing about the timescale/character perspective is that it’s not chronological – which gives a sense of effortlessness and enjoyment about reading each of the characters’ lives in a way that unravels, much like an Agatha Christie novel, as the plot progresses. This also emphasises the element of mystery in the book. I couldn’t stop reading, such a page-turner!
It sounds like a weird thing to say (or write) but I have never felt so immersed and connected to characters before. It felt as if I knew them; that they’d told me about their parents, their hopes and dreams and their regrets. Now, I’m not sure if this is because it’s a particularly long novel but the way that Hill wrote his characters is SO effective. You step into their minds and walk around in their life encountering other characters that seem as just as realistic. Hill’s writing, oh – it’s just so beautiful. The way he manipulates words to express exactly what he wants them to say is so powerful. He is a detailed writer, but not so detailed that I found it pointless, pretentious or boring. The detail he uses provides insight, emotion and a connection to how the characters looked, felt and acted. His writing created such a crystal-clear image in my mind its expressive nature reminded me of painting. I also found that there were many subtle parallels throughout the text which I was delighted to see in a book I’m not reading for university.
Overall, amazing. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a thought-provoking, well-written novel about life. However, I would like to disclose that sensitive topics are discussed in this book, such as child abuse, rape, cheating, sexism, racism, neglect and war.