“An alarm sounds on her phone, letting her know that life doesn’t stop, even when it’s on the brink of ending. She turns to walk back, knowing that she’s running out of places to hide. The ends of the Earth. That’s how far she ran this time. Not far enough.”
When I first read the synopsis for The Split by Sharon Bolton, I was hooked: a young glaciologist takes a job in Antarctica to escape a troubled past that is maybe, somehow, finally catching up with her? Yes please! The setting alone was enough to make me want to read this one, not to mention the glowing reviews already online for this title. While I guessed part of the plot twist early on, I was still invested enough in the story as a whole to see it through to the end.
The Split, like many other thrillers, is told from multiple points of view, and flips around different time periods as well. First, we’re in present day Antarctica. We meet Felicity, our main character, Freddie, who is presumably her husband (recently released from jail, trying to find her), and Bamber, who appears to be homeless.
Then, we’re taken nine months into the past, and brought to the UK. Two new characters are introduced: Joe, Felicity’s therapist, and Shane, a homeless man who is following both Joe and Felicity around the city.
I know, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I promise it’s not that confusing once you start reading. They do all connect, eventually, in a way that will hopefully catch you off guard. By the end of the book, we’re back in present day Antarctica, for the final reveal.
I will admit, this book had one of my least favorite thriller novel tropes: a female lead with a mental illness. So many books use mental illnesses as a way to create unreliable characters, and in this case, also make them seem like dangerous people. There are many other ways that you can create an unreliable character and build a mysterious narrative. That was my one (big) negative takeaway from this book.
However, I did love the setting of Antarctica, and the fact that Felicity was a glaciologist. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with either of those details, so it was a fresh take for me. There’s also a lot of dialogue, so it’s a quick read, and you learn a lot about all of the different characters. Their backstories are well-developed, which helps you relate to them a bit more, and really feel for them when you learn more about their history.
Overall, The Split was an entertaining read, and felt like an incredibly fast story considering it’s over 400 pages. If you’re looking for a new thriller to add to your list, check this one out.
Thank you to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for sending me an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Split comes out on April 28, 2020, and can be pre-ordered or purchased wherever books are sold.