I’m torn about this book. It makes me want half-stars in the ratings on Goodreads. On the one hand, I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I have other books that blend fantasy and sci-fi (3 stars for “liked it”). On the other hand, the premise is intriguing, I did start connecting with the characters, and I can’t stop thinking about it (4 stars for “really liked it”).
Description from the inside cover:
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
This book didn’t really hook me at the beginning, and I almost took it back to the library. But then Natalie took her visions to a psychology researcher specializing in people who’ve been visited by “others,” and I was intrigued when Dr. Chan said, “typically people who have these encounters are sensitive types — they tend to be somewhere between INFJ and ENFJ” (p. 80).
Okay, I’m hooked. I’m an INFJ and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), so of course I’m going to keep reading. Though the personality type connection wasn’t quite clear and the description/explanation of type theory were a bit thin (but that’s coming from someone who’s been obsessed with studying it for years), that’s what kept me interested long enough for the world building to kick-in and capture my attention.
The fantasy part of The Love That Split The World is good. It’s inspired by myth and legend, yet explained just enough to almost qualify as science-fiction. And yet, I think I wanted more about the characters and little less confusion about what exactly is happening to them.
MAJOR SPOILERS from here on out
I’m perfectly okay with a fantasy story about a love that fractured dimensions. I’m also okay with the idea of fluid time. What doesn’t sit as well with me is that the book spent so much time building up the idea that Natalie and Beau were in separate dimensions only to learn Natalie is in the “right” timeline and Beau only exists in a fractured alternate timeline that’s going to disappear. Or maybe I’m just irritated that I didn’t pick-up on the time-travel clues earlier.
In The Love That Split The World, time can rupture around a traumatic event in a sensitive person’s life. For Natalie, it was a car accident when she was very young. That point was her “Opening” to see how time could have played-out if she’d died there instead of Beau. After being warned by Grandmother that she only has 3 months to save a mysterious “him,” she meets and falls in love with Beau and they both start crossing back and forth in the 3 months leading up to her “Closing” (the end of her 14-year ability to see an alternate timeline, and the point at which time would “heal itself” and close off the other timeline forever).
I just had too many questions about how this world works, and they distracted me a little from enjoying the plot and connecting with the characters in the later half of the book. Since “Grandmother” turns out to be Natalie in the future, who younger Natalie was traveling to accidentally in her sleep, does Grandmother now have memories from childhood of being visited by herself? And how does Beau recognize Natalie when she wakes up in that ambiguous ending chapter? If they both lived at the accident site in this new reality, wouldn’t they have forgot everything that happened in the entire book because that timeline no longer exists? Sure, there’s the hint that some kind of supernatural beings stepped in to alter the world so their love could live on, but is that enough of an explanation? Does it make sense within the world the author has created? I’m not sure.
Perhaps I should give this book 4 stars just because I’m still thinking about it. It’s not a book that you can just read through quickly and then forget, and I do enjoy books that stick in my mind like that.