Split Second by Sophie McKenzie

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Split Second by Sophie McKenzie

Category: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Brilliant, taut, tense thriller set in a dystopian near-future Britain deep in a spiral of austerity and with extremist groups springing up. Credible central characters and brilliant plotting. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1471115976

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Nat and Charlie are connected long before they meet. They were both there the day a terrorist bomb decimated the marketplace. Nat was trying to find his brother and stop him because he's pretty sure Lucas is the bomber. Charlie was sulking because her mother wouldn't let her get a tattoo. And the bomb went off. Charlie's mother died. Nat's brother was left in a coma. In this Britain of the near-future, beset by an endless cycle of more and more austerity, where people queue for free food handouts and racist extremist groups are increasingly dominating the public conversation, neither Charlie nor Nat had thought anything could get any worse. But it did.

Some months later, Charlie and Nat finally meet. Charlie is so lost in grief and anger at her mother's that she struggles socially, coming off as rude and standoffish. Nat is carrying the terrible secret of his brother's crime and trying to find out how the kind, affable Lucas could have been so thoroughly brainwashed that he did something so dreadful. So he comes off as rude and secretive. But something draws the two together - a shared desire to discover the truth and to right the wrongs that were done that day. It will lead them into terrible danger...

Wow. Sophie McKenzie knows how to get her readers right on the edge of their seats. Split Second is a rollercoaster of a read, full of twists and turns and betrayals. Nat is probably the more sympathetic of the two central characters. He's a deep thinker and he has a strong moral compass. It's only keeping secrets that makes him seem arrogant and superior. Charlie, on the other hand, has a killer instinct. She has sublimated her guilt about the argument she had with her mother just before she died into a ruthless desire for revenge. When the two start to delve into the extremist underground, it's Charlie who wants to punish the bombers and Nat who wants to help create a better society. But both must learn to compromise.

The Britain McKenzie imagines is frighteningly plausible. Stuck in an endless decline into poverty, people are turning to racist organisations for answers. There must be someone to blame. The League of Iron's vision of the future might be vicious, but it's also worryingly seductive. Split Second does a good job of showing how this background affects politics but it also does an equally good job of showing how it affects families. And you root for both central characters as their search for answers leads them not only into personal danger but also into unexplored territory as their feelings for one another grow and strengthen.

I loved this story. It's tense and exciting. It's plausible. It has flawed but sympathetic central characters and it asks all sorts of very contemporary questions. And the story will continue in Every Second Counts. I'll be watching this space for book two. With bated breath!

If you like the look of Split Second, you might also enjoy The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake or Blackout by Sam Mills.

Buy Split Second by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Split Second by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Split Second by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Split Second by Sophie McKenzie at Amazon.com.


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