Pajama Press

Nix Minus One writing is “strong and fluid but laced with vulnerability” —CanLit for LittleCanadians

Posted on February 12th, 2013 by pajamapress

“…Nix Minus One shows off Jill MacLean’s characteristic strong plotting that helped win countless awards and nominations for her other books: The Nine Lives of Travis Keating (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008), The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009) and Home Truths (Dancing Cat Books, 2010).  She creates characters who would be considered ordinary, i.e., less than perfect, and has them deal with troubling, even tragic circumstances.  Roxy, Nix, Blue, and even Mom and Dad, are more reflective of Jill MacLean’s readership than the sterile but beautiful people of popular shows and movies.  By making Nix Minus One‘s characters into “real” people who make some wise decisions, some incredibly poor choices and some that fortuitously leave no permanent scars, Jill MacLean fosters understanding and empathy.

I would like to recognize Nix Minus One as Jill MacLean’s first foray into the novels-in-verse genre, heralding a new achievement in writing for her.  While her writing is strong and fluid but laced with vulnerability, Nix Minus One demonstrates the one-two punch nature of novels in verse:  the author’s word choice and sentence structure are now enhanced with the form of the writing.  The structure of the verse can intensify the text, or suggest confusion, weakness or apathy, though Jill MacLean always chooses wisely, never overworking her form or content.  So, while the title suggests a subtraction or loss, I believe Nix Minus One demonstrates that Jill MacLean has found the literary means, i.e., free verse, to add to the total experience of one of her stories.  As an equation, that would read,

Nix – 1 =  Jill MacLean2

Helen Kubiw

Click here to read the full review.