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The Rift

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  483 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Selena and Julie are sisters. As children they were closest companions, but as they grow towards maturity, a rift develops between them.

There are greater rifts, however. Julie goes missing at the age of seventeen. It will be twenty years before Selena sees her again. When Julie reappears, she tells Selena an incredible story about how she has spent time on another planet.
Paperback, 423 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Titan Books (UK)
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3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  483 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Ian Mond
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Rift is an example, in a long line of examples, of why you never, ever read the back cover copy.

It's a truly magnificent novel. So smart, and thematically rich and populated by flawed people who you can't help but care about. It plays in a sandpit of ambiguity but in a manner that never feels pretentious. It's intimate and tragic and wonderous. The prose mixes reportage with passages that are intricate and lyrical. It's structurally inventive without being gimmicky. And it showcases a writer
DNF @27%

With pretty much no SF elements so far I'm left with a book about the disappearance of a sister and the impact on the family of her return. Nearly a third of the way through a 400 page book and we're just going round and round on the sense of alienation, abandonment and detachment that the remaining sister has towards the returning one.

I get it from a literary point of view, but I don't find it interesting in any way. The key here is that by this stage in the book I've had all curiosity
This is an unusual book with one of those soft, ambiguous story-lines that will drive some people batty but I enjoy. I'm not sure I understand it all, but I found myself re-reading passages, drawing and re-drawing connections, and thinking about how tricky it can be to differentiate between what's real and what's not. I found it moving and subtle, quietly weird, and it was a surprise because the jacket copy sounds very SF mystery and it doesn't read like something that straightforward.
David Harris
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm so grateful to Titan for an advance copy of this book, which was one of my most anticipated of 2017 after Allan's stunning The Race last year.

The books have some similarities. Like The Race, The Rift is complex in form - the story is told both through viewpoint narratives and through interpolated artefacts: letters, lists, newspaper articles, school essays, bits of stories, diaries. These aren't all written by the main characters, so for example we get a section from the diary of a specialis
The Rift is the story of two sisters, Selena and Julie Rouane. When Julie is 17, she goes missing, seemingly without a trace. Selena, three years Julie's junior, shoulders the burden of her sister's disappearance and grows up in the shadow of an unsolved mystery. When we meet Selena, she is in her mid-thirties, still bogged down in survivor's guilt. Almost as soon as she is introduced, she receives a phone call that turns her life upside down – a call from a woman who claims to be Julie. She is ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, this book was a hot mess. The sci-if aspect was the one that made me want to read this book but that aspect is barely explored in this book and when it is , it is explored in the most confusing way ever. We are given “excerpts “ from books that have come from the different “dimension, world, reality “ and then we are given nonsensical geographic lessons without them being’s just felt like the author wanted to fill the pages . Then the book goes into a completely different direc ...more
Hannah Rodgman
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 4.5 stars!

This was INCREDIBLE!!!

I truly cannot understand why it has such a low rating on GR.

It was a mixture of sci-fi, psychological thriller and mystery. And I was LIVING for that.

Just, seriously, if you like your science fiction with twists and turns and not quite believing what is happening, then this is for you!


Highly recommended!

Happy reading

Hannah xoxo
Seregil of Rhiminee
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Nina Allan's The Rift is one of the most compelling, ambitious and immersive reading experiences of the year. Besides being a thought-provoking exploration of love, loss, alienation, memories and identity, it's also a thoughtful meditation on relationships and mental health. It's different from and more original than other new speculative fiction novels, because the author has written an incredibly enticing story that features challenging themes and issues. T
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, owned
I bought this novel on a whim, encouraged by positive reviews and how much I enjoyed Allan's earlier novella The Art of Space Travel. And this book didn't disappoint me: it was memorable, creepy and ambiguous, full of thematic depth and emotional resonance, and terribly unputdownable. I really enjoyed the way it played with genre conventions; its intertextuality and the conclusion. There are some aspects I wish we could have learnt more about, but I am fine with the way it leaves the reader to t ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Rift is one of those books that can sit comfortably on a scifi bookshelf or nestled in general fiction. Which shelf you find it on – and where your general reading sympathies lie – is likely to influence how you read it and how you feel about each of its characters. As such, it’s a brilliant study in perspective and bias – for the reader as well as for its protagonists.

As such, I think this may appeal to non-SF readers even more than to many SF fans, but those who enjoy works of literary SF
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A powerful and moving tale of love and loss - and other worlds.

Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Selena had an older sister, Julie. When they were young, they were close. When they were teenaged, they started drifting apart. When Selena was 14, Julie disappeared. And for 17 years, there was no sign of her.

And now, all of a sudden, Julie appears again. She wants to explain. Wants to come back. Wants Selena to keep this a secret, even from their mother, at least for now.

This isn't a mystery story, and it's SF/F only in a soft, subtle way; around the edges, as it were. This book's focus, as th
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Rift is one of the most extraordinary, hard-to-categorise, and unsettling novels I’ve read. (I'm sure there are others along the same lines and that use similar techniques but I can't think of any right now). I hadn’t read its blurb beforehand, or any reviews, and I really do think this novel is best read with no preconceptions whatsoever. In this case I also didn’t read any other reviews before reviewing it myself - I just wanted to set down my reactions and later see how others reacted.

Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is touted as “science fiction,” and indeed, that’s the bookstore section in which I found it, but I think it is mislabeled. Rather, I would say it is primarily about family and trauma and possibly mental illness, with a bit of a "Twilight Zone" flavor.

This story is narrated alternately by two sisters, Selena and Julie Rouane. It begins when Selena is 34. Twenty years earlier, when Selena was 14 and Julie 17, Julie disappeared. Suddenly after all this time Selena receives a call from J
Nicholas Whyte
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Selena's sister disappeared twenty years ago from their family home in Manchester, when they were teenagers. Their father broke down, moved out, and recently died. And now, just after Selena and her boyfriend have broken up, Julie is back, or someone who says she is Julie, and claims she was somehow transported into another world; and tells stories of what happened to her there. Again, we have an interesting narrative format, with flashbacks and parts o
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: The estranged and dispossessed
Recommended to Alan by: Chance
Selena and Julie are sisters, both teenagers growing up in Manchester, England. But then Julie disappears, mysteriously and thoroughly. Foul play seems likely. The police drag the lake near where Julie was last seen, but do not find a body. They make an arrest anyway, but eventually have to release the man for lack of evidence. The media circus arrives, performs a few tricks, and then departs. Selena and her parents adjust as well as they can to the hole in their lives where Julie had been. The ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I finished this book totally confused about how to rate it. At times I loved it, like in the beginning, during Selena's point of view. Then Julie came in and it all went pear shaped. The long excerpts from books, the huge swaths of story not addressed, and maybe a bit that I didn't get a solid sense of Julie and ended up not liking her very much. I skimmed a little, during the excerpts, like the one about the giant catfish, and at times thought of not finishing it, but I made it through. At the ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, sisters
An intriguing premise. The books starts off well but does not live up to expectations at all. It's taken me over a month to get round to finishing it.

The characterisation is unconvincing. What's the point in writing mulitple first-person points of view if I keep forgetting whether I'm reading Julie or Selena.
I get that she's trying to explore universal themes. But she forgets that to grip the reader you have to first fascinate them with the particular, THEN show your philisophical point.

Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hulladek, felig
As a science fiction novel it's not particularly interesting, as contemporary literature it's not well written enough. The fragmented "found document" style is redundant, tiresome, unoriginal and overused - I want to know these characters, I want to know the father, the mother, the two sisters, Cally and Noah, their feelings, reactions, thoughts and fears. All I know is that Julie's afraid of black holes and alien monsters.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
Hoo boy did I dislike this book. The shifting voice was the most jarring. I have never hate read a book before this. AWFUL
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my golly gosh! I loved this book so much! I don’t want to let go of it, it’s brilliant!
I don’t understand why it didn’t win tons of awards.

You’ll have read the blurb. The story involves two sisters, Julie and Selena. Julie goes missing at nineteen. After twenty years, she returns with a story of having been on another planet.

At the heart of the Rift is an unspoken trauma. The trauma could be Julie going missing, or that could just be a symptom. There are hints as to what else it could be; a r
Chloe Smith
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
All reviews can be found at
(I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers)

A work of literary science fiction, The Rift is Nina Allan’s new standalone novel that raises the question of identity and mental health when Selena’s sister, Julie, walks back into her life making claims that she has been living on another planet. After twenty years, Selena begins to feel a wave of emotions and finds herself questioning everything she has been told
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The less you know about this book before you read it the better the reading experience will be. However, unless you enjoy literary fiction you're not going to make it to the parts where it gets interesting. But at the same time those parts may not be interesting to you. And the early part of the book is still interesting--just not for many readers, and the ideal reader is someone who reads across a lot of genres and is comfortable with ambiguity in fiction. Great endorsement, I know. But for tho ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Sisters share some of the closest bonds two human beings can share. They also share rivalries and jealousies, turning them into frenemies. But their loyalties to each other run deep.

This the story of two such sisters, a story that tests their knowledge of each other, and their connection and loyalty to each other.

When Julie disappears as a teenager, her sister Selena is left to ponder, with her parents, the big questions of what happened to her and why. The pain recedes over time, until Julie s
From what I know about Goodreads, this is a novel I think most users of the site would hate: opaque, abstruse, ambiguous to a high degree. There's a mystery at the heart of this novel, but Allan isn't interested in solving it for the reader. Nor do I think is the mystery one capable of being solved based on the "clues" offered by the novel. Rather, like her previous novel, The Race, this new novel wants to push what "science fiction" even means. "What does truth even mean?" is a question superbl ...more
Neni Taylor
Sep 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I read The Race and didn't finish it. I did finish The Rift but wish that I'd abandoned it after the fifth page as it's left me feeling nauseous. I think that this author and I have nothing to say to each other. Its well written, and as an exploration of the nature and consequences of abuse it works. As ambiguous sci fi I just didn't find it either gripping or puzzling enough; and was left thinking that a simple DNA test would very easily have either answered one of the main questions posed by t ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
¿Al leer la metamorfosis de Kafka pensaste que el libro era mala ciencia ficción porque no explica por qué K. se transforma en cucaracha? Pues esta historia también debe tomarse como viene, sin más.
Una historia muy bella sobre sororidad, traumas sexuales y familiares, incapacidad de conexión con los seres amados y locura... Que tiene la desgracia de usar la metáfora como motor, en vez de la ciencia ficción que vende la portada. Los que busquen ciencia ficción no la van a encontrar, solo una hist
Simon Mcleish
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
The Rift has an interesting approach, combining literary fiction and science fictional ideas, but it seemed to me that neither side of it was interesting enough, especially given the praise the novel has received. It struck me as decidedly average.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If The Race is the jewel, The Rift is the structure that supports it.
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
A teenage girl, Julie, goes missing and no trace of her is found. Twenty years later someone who claims to be Julie turns up out of the blue to contact her sister Selena. She eventually "explains" her prolonged absence by saying she somehow fell through a rift and was transported to an Alien world, where she was looked after by alien beings who thought she was someone else, who had merely lost her memory. The only thing she has to substantiate this story is an usual necklace that she says was gi ...more
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Clearing the mystery 2 10 Feb 02, 2018 12:32AM  
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