Walker Books for Young Readers
March 16, 2010
Split by Stefan Petrucha is just one of the many great (or what seem to be great) books coming out today and the one I've been lucky enough to read already. Split is described as 'Sliding Doors meets Fight Club' and the description seems incredibly apt. Main character Wade Jackson feels torn between his love of guitar playing and writing music and his need to be the perfect student.
It all comes to a head when his mother dies (at the start of the book) and he's forced to choose between the two paths, to truly commit himself to one endeavor or the other and whatever path that will inevitably take him on.
But that's where things get interesting in Split. Wade doesn't just turn into the model student or become the on-the-edge rocker....he becomes both. Through a split in consciousness, told in alternating chapters (and alternating worlds really), Split follows the two Wades--each who makes the decisions they feel is the right one--as one becomes the strive-for-the-best student and one lives on the fringe, gambling, dealing with people on the edge of society and working towards being a dive-bar singer. All leading towards when their live(s) just might collide again.
I have to start by saying that I have never read a book like Split. There are a lot of books that alternate chapters and even try parallel worlds or universes or similar things but I don't think I've heard of a book that's actually split the character into, well, two like this one did.
I enjoyed that the two characters (two Wades) were so different but it was obvious that they had both started at the same place, too. They weren't so, so different that it was unbelievable that they'd just made different choices but not similar enough that you couldn't understand how simple choice could change your life. I do think it would have been interesting, though, to have each of them remember more of their past to see how differently they would have seen things-if that would have been possible.
I think that the book will be more appealing to a different audience, however, because the book didn't focus just on the characters but on a rather interesting plot involving particle accelerators in one Wade's world and loan sharks and very, very not upstanding citizens in the other Wade's, both of whom were bringing impending doom to the Wades. Things were definitely interesting and new enough that it kept me guessing at just how all of this was going to come together and how on Earth it all went together.
Using the particle accelerator that could possibly end the world as the center piece for a book about a teen that splits his conscious self in two sounds pretty odd, but it actually works pretty well. And this is one of those YA books that should work for boys as well as (if not better than) girls so points there, too (& it's made me interested in The Rule of Won which I actually wasn't really before).
thank you very much to the publishers for this book :)