Emily May's Reviews > The Love That Split the World

The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
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bookshelves: young-adult, 2016, coverly-love, romance, sci-fi

This book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this different, imaginative, weird romance.

I call it a "romance" out of the human need to categorize, but it truly doesn't sit well in any genre. It has paranormal and sci-fi elements, as well as what feels like touches of magical realism - all blended together around a complex love story with diverse characters.

Let me emphasize that once more - The Love That Split the World is a book rich with diversity, feminism, sex-positivism and just good old beautiful writing. The author chooses her words carefully, painting a gorgeous and vivid picture of both the Kentucky setting and this delicate time in Natalie Cleary's life.

Brimming with Native American stories, culture and mythology, the book whizzes along with a magical energy. It is full of many short stories (and through them - life lessons) told by the mysterious "Grandmother" who sometimes visits Natalie at night.

Who is Grandmother? A Native American messenger? A religious apparition? Or merely a figment of Natalie's imagination? Only time will tell.

Natalie is a particularly likable and wise character; she is quick to point out slut-shaming and refuses to see her ex's new girlfriend as her enemy or, indeed, anything other than a human being. On top of this, her mental state plays a large part in this book, asking a question I have personally always loved - supernatural or psychological?

Fantasy and psychology live side by side here, prompting the reader to constantly wonder just what is real and what is imagined.

Given my 3-star rating, you've probably been waiting for it and here it is - the BUT. Well... this book might be a great many things, but it is first and foremost a romance and relies on your attachment to said romance to effectively tell the story. And it breaks my first two rules of writing romance novels.

1) Instalove. Like wow, bang, whoosh, I just met you and this is crazy, but let me talk about your beautiful eyelashes kind of instalove. Romances where emotions are plucked out of midair and built upon gorgeous looks just leave me feeling so cold.

2) You so pretty. Sentences that become paragraphs that become pages about how Beau is a physical work of art.
"His biceps are roughly the size of my head, and his eyes look like summer incarnate, and he has two little dark freckles on the side of his nose, and a mouth that somehow manages to look like a shy kid’s one minute and a virile Greek god’s the next.”

*snores* I just don't care that much about beautiful people. And I especially don't need to be reminded over and over again how good-looking they are.

If you can look past the instalove and eye roll-worthy romance moments, then this really is a beautiful book. Unfortunately, so much rests on the romance that it's quite hard to do.

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Reading Progress

January 29, 2016 – Shelved
January 31, 2016 – Started Reading
February 1, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

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message 1: by Ain (new)

Ain I started reading this book last Saturday and still stuck at 15% until today. It's really hard for me to get over the instalove. Too bad because I actually really like the female MC.


Emily May Ain wrote: "I started reading this book last Saturday and still stuck at 15% until today. It's really hard for me to get over the instalove. Too bad because I actually really like the female MC."

I understand completely :(


message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Yaass! I <3 your rules! I don't know which bothers me more, but if all a guy needs is weird eyes and abs, I'd only need instagram, not books! Come on, people!


message 4: by Patricia (new)

Patricia A Two of my least favorite tropes: instalove, and the constant reminder of how one character is so *inserts flawless, perfect, beautiful, handsome, etc. etc. over and over again.


message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Well, other than the romance, it sounds good, but three stars from you is five starts from anyone else, so I'll give it a try.


message 6: by Colleen (new)

Colleen biceps the size of my head sound terrifying D:


message 7: by Molly (new) - added it

Molly Thanks, this was really helpful. I was mostly concerned about the way the Native American elements were handled (the Kirkus review mentions them as being mostly a plot device) - but you don't think they were appropriating culture/mis-informed/otherwise problematic?


Emily May Molly wrote: "Thanks, this was really helpful. I was mostly concerned about the way the Native American elements were handled (the Kirkus review mentions them as being mostly a plot device) - but you don't think..."

I'm not really sure what Kirkus means in this instance. Natalie's cultural background is an important part of the storytelling because the fantastical elements take inspiration from Native American mythology, so maybe that makes it a plot device(?) But there is definitely no misrepresentation of culture and the author has clearly done her research.


Cathy Ah, you said it so much better than I ever could. This book left me really confused about how exactly I felt about it. Because I wasn't at all invested in the romance; I liked Beau and Natalie just fine had they beed simply friends. Yet, somewhere towards the very end, the book and romance still got to me and I ended up settling on 4 stars. Even though I couldn't agree more, this was near impossible to rate.


message 10: by ♔Insomnia (new)

♔Insomnia here_for_the_catnip *sigh* yet another highly anticipated book just got off the menu. And a YA book with Native American mythology sounded really unique..


Mel (Epic Reading) All I needed to hear was "insta-love" and multiple references and descriptions to "beautiful people" to put this on my do not read list. I refuse to go anywhere near a disaster like "Fault in our Stars" where the writing is amazing but the story sucks. Thx for heads up Emily. One book to knock off the list!


message 12: by Bobbi (new) - added it

Bobbi Hm, I was still wondering why I was to take your three stars lightly and then bam "insta=love". Yeah, that'll do it. That alone is turning me into a world class waffler on whether a story that actually incorporates Native American mythology is still worth reading when it is hobbled that badly. I shall have to give it a think.


The Brain in the Jar Insant love - just add water and BANG! Romance!

It's weird how works that are otherwise very unique fall back on the lamest cliches.


message 14: by Hely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Hely I finished this book last week and I had to look at the cover twice to remember the plot. That is definitely not a good sign. I liked the writing but it took a lot of effort to reach the end of it. I agree on the insta-love bit. It turned out to be pretty anticlimactic.


message 15: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane Thank goodness- I just finished this and felt the same way about the insta-love. Glad I'm not alone...


message 16: by Joe (new)

Joe So bummed about the instalove as I own this and apart from it this looks so promising. Still will probably read it soon, but I'll know it's getting 4 stars maximum from me.


message 17: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth To be fair, the biceps line was a joke she told her friend, wasn't it? She was intentionally sounding like a stupid romance novel. But yeah, I am going to get through this because every other element is great, but the book would be better if they were friends. And not written in the present tense.


Emily May Beth wrote: "To be fair, the biceps line was a joke she told her friend, wasn't it? She was intentionally sounding like a stupid romance novel. But yeah, I am going to get through this because every other eleme..."

Well, it didn't really seem like a joke seeing as Beau's physical beauty is mentioned many times. If it was a joke, she should have only said it once, lol.


message 19: by Beth (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth Fair enough. I still don't think that particular quote is the best example of how tedious the twu wub descriptions get, but I do agree with your review. Shame, cause there's some great stuff jn the book, but the "romance" bogs it down.


Billie Salazar Yesss thank you!! I JUST finished reading it, and so I am still consumed by the feels that ending gave me. I agree with you completely, the insta-love was exactly what bugged me about this book, and how the mood seemed to change swiftly from tense to flirty. But the rest of it. The rest of it was something that I adored, especially the presence of an actual family and the different types of families there are. It's something you don't see in many books and something I can wholly appreciate. And not JUST the romance, but the different types of love. I loved that so much, which is why I gave it four stars, despite the insta-love. I really couldn't have put the rest of it better myself, though.


Megan Oh I so agree with your whole review!! Yet I overlooked the focus on physical looks and insta love and gave it 5 stars anyway. Because despite that I really loved the world she created. Or worlds. I should say.


Ronyell Awesome review Emily! I felt that the romance aspects of this story sort of ruined this book for me.


message 23: by Jenbebookish (new)

Jenbebookish Agree. Insta love is the bane of my YA-reading life.


Aisling I really hate insta-love usually but I feel like the surrounding story was enough to keep me enthralled. And I still found myself not hating the relationship at the end.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I personally think it's realistic when they talk about them throughout the book.
When I have a crush on a guy, I don't just mention him one time. I talk about him almost every chance I get, and say the same things a lot.
So it doesn't bother me too much with that.


Erica I've been trying to figure out what bugs me about this book, because aside from that I really liked the book! And your review is perfect, so thank you :)


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