WHOA. Slow the phones and stop the presses.
I just need a second.
Whew… Okay. I think I’m ready to write this review now (though there’s absolutely no telling what’s about to come out of my mouth).
I had so many feels about this book that it’s been hard to figure out how to structure this review. So I’m just going to speak broadly about some things and see where it leads.
The Magical Realism, Time Travel, and Parallel Universes.
I’m not generally a huge fan of Time Travel or Sci-Fi, and I didn’t realize how heavily that was going to play into this story, but honestly, Emily Henry took a few big chances in the way she chose to tell Natalie’s story, and THEY ALL PAID OFF. If I – someone who admits to openly being bored by the science that lies behind theories of time travel and alternate dimensions and parallel timelines, etc. etc. – can be enthralled and entertained by the way time travel and parallel universes/timelines/dimensions/paradoxes are explored in this book, I can only assume that a real sci-fi/time travel enthusiast would weep for joy at how convoluted (yet thoroughly researched and explored) this science is in The Love That Split the World. It’s very well done. And there was only maybe one tiny paragraph somewhere in there where my mind wandered and I got bored by the long explanations of it all. So that was a major win in my opinion.
Plus. the magical realism in this book is beautiful. I am a complete and utter gooey-eyed lover when it comes to the genre, so I like it done well and I’m very picky about what counts as “acceptable” magical realism. This book passed with flying colors. The magic is all wrapped up in science (so it’s hard to classify this book as “magical” or “fantastical” instead of “sci-fi” – I think it’s just an absurdly wonderful mix of them all), and that works here. I’m not sure it would in any other book. But it so so SO does here.
Natalie is adopted. That’s one of the very first (and most defining) things we learn about her. Her birth mother was a Native American girl who thought that she deserved two parents who could truly take care of her, and thus gave her up for adoption. Her parents are first of all, awesome, but that doesn’t keep Nat from having some major identity issues (as many adopted children do) about who she is, and where she comes from. I really liked that Emily doesn’t just gloss over Natalie’s history – she embraces it. It’s central to the entire thing. Crucial to plot development and basically the key to how the entire story is told. The Native American legends and stories told throughout were some of my favorite passages, and it was really interesting to discover how each story fit in with what was going on in the book; it felt like this great puzzle – finding each missing piece was like a revelation, and it kept the story from dragging.
“I don’t love Beau yet, I don’t think. But being with him feels like a better version of being alone, and in that way, I think we are each other’s.”
What can I even say about Beau? He was very very easy to fall for, so I don’t blame Natalie for falling so hard or so fast. I thought the romantic buildup – while a bit too “fate brought us together” and “we’re meant to be” at times, ended up being very sweet and heartfelt. It helps that by the end the reason it felt so much like fate made a lot more sense. I may not fully believe in fate myself, but I thought it was actually done well in this romance, and by the end I was full-on rooting for the two of them to be together. Now, there are bound to be some “Matt shippers” out there, but I just cannot condone some of his actions, which is the key reason I preferred Natalie with Beau than with Matt. Matt had the potential to be so much better than he was (in my opinion), and I couldn’t really let that go. Maybe, in another world… Well, that’s the whole point of reading this book, now, isn’t it?
Oh my goodness, guys, I have to admit, of all the relationships in this book (and I thought that they were all well-drawn) my all-time favorite was the one between Natalie and Megan. It reminded me so much of my best friendships, and there were so many notes that rung true for me while I was reading.
“Megan sighs. ‘Listen, I’m not saying this to put any pressure on you, but you know there’s always transferring. If you don’t like Brown or I don’t like Georgetown, no problem, we’re back together.’
‘I know,’ I say, and I almost hope that’s what happens. I’m honestly more worried that I will love Brown, that Megan will fit Georgetown like fuzzy lime-green socks on a pair of cold feet, that we’ll go off down our separate paths, loving our lives but getting further apart with every new turn.”
I challenge anyone to claim they’ve never experienced a feeling similar to this one. It’s a part of life – moving on – but that doesn’t stop it from being terrifying. And just as scary as losing a friend for bad reasons is that creeping sense that you’re both moving in opposite directions, loving your lives, and that you’ll never be quite where you were again. Having recently gotten married, I fully admit I’ve felt this more than a few times when I think of some of my best friends, and how our lives are changing around us almost too-rapidly for me, despite how happy those changes are.
Strong friendships are anchors, and Megan really felt like one the best parts of this book.
The End. The Freaking End.
I don’t even know where to begin. Guys, just go read this book. The ending is… WHOA. It’s just… WHOA. I don’t think I can say anything more, but trust me, it’s trippy and it’s weird and it’s extraordinary, and it’ll leave you more than a little breathless. It was a bold move, Emily Henry, but I guess by now I know you’re not afraid of bold moves. For me, the ending just worked. It clicked. It made sense. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and it wasn’t necessarily as specific and exact as I wanted, but it clicked and I couldn’t help myself – it left me grinning like an idiot and longing for more. That’s what great books do to you – good books leave you feeling something, but great books leave you anxious for more, and greedily soaking it every single detail of what you’ve already got.
Well played, Emily Henry, well played.
If you want something totally new and different and absolutely fan-freaking-tastic to read next, The Love That Split the World is definitely for you.
“There’s little to fear when you love. There’s nothing to fear when you are loved.”
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Tell me your reaction to the ending of The Love That Split the World! Are you hoping for another book in this universe? (I know I sure am!)