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. Selena has an impossible choice to make: does she dismiss her sister as a damaged person, the victim of delusions, or believe her, and risk her own sanity in the process? Is Julie really who she says she is, and if she isn’t, what does she have to gain by claiming her sister’s identity?
In this fractured postmodern drama of a pair of separated sisters, the warmth of togetherness has to survive the coldness of rational fact. Julie disappeared one summer day 20 years ago, presumably the victim of a local predator. Her sister, Selena, settled into being an only child, even as her father continued to obsess over his missing daughter. After he dies, Julie returns, claiming she fell through "the rift" into another world, Tristane, that's threatened by an alien memory-stealing parasite. Selena wants to believe Julie's story, even as their mother refuses to. Allan crafts mirrored portraits of two women at odds with their own lives coming into a more stable orbit around each other. But the duplications in their narratives (both are taken in by older, capable women, neither has a long-term relationship, both prefer solitude to socializing) seem more like repetitive reproductions than reflections that might offer additional insight into the story's themes.
Lots of words
The wordiest book of all time. Yet, nothing whatsoever happens. Which is a giant shame, as the author can genuinely write. The ability to tell a great story? At least not here.
This review was first published on Kurt's Frontier.
As Children, Selena and Julie were close. A rift began developing between them as they entered their teens. Then, Julie disappears when she is seventeen. It will be twenty years before Selena sees her older sister again. When she does reappear, Julie tells Selena an impossible story about living on another planet. Selena is left with a choice. Dismiss her sister’s story as delusions, a way of coping with whatever did happen. Or, she can believe Julie but risk her own sanity.
Nina Allan’s book seems more phycological than science fiction. The concept of being of a person leaving this world and traveling to another is interesting to me. The return and how it’s explained is another exciting element. However, the execution was lacking in The Rift. The author shifts between past and present regularly, making the story feel disjointed and very confusing. Then, we get to Julie’s adventures on the planet Tristane. Nothing really happens there other than Julie talks to the people.