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Half World (Half World #1)

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  762 ratings  ·  169 reviews
Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive. Imagine Coraline as filmed by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle), or Neil Gaiman collaborating w ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 30th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,488)
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Miriam
I almost gave up on this during the very flat (despite hideous monsters and grossness) prologue which explains the three worlds: Life (our world), Spirit (a heaven-like realm where souls are healed before being reborn), and the Half World, which is supposed to be like Purgatory but isn't because by some mischance the three worlds were completely separated so now those in the Half World are trapped in an endless cycle of experiencing their trauma over and over, forever. We open with a pair of you ...more
Sen
12/23/12 EDIT: Somethin' went wrong with the coding of this review. Fixed it!

Review written on May 20, 2011
I was at the library when suddenly my cousin pulled out Half World and offered it to me, simply because of the artwork.

I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a book by its cover... but too late, I judged. Instantly, my thought: Oooh, this looks like a scene from Spirited Away (yes, I even made this picture):

Yup, close enough.
Then I proceed to read the blurb; here's the concept:


Interesti
...more
rachel
Dark Japanese-influenced fantasy is one of my favorite things. When I read that this book dealt with spiritual realms and had a chubby loner for a hero, it was elevated to a MUST READ RIGHT NOW on my list.

The "dark fantasy" part was satisfied beyond my expectations; the characters that Melanie meets in the Half World are truly grotesque and horrifying, and Mr. Glueskin's party trick freaked me the f out. Melanie's initial experiences of the Mirages Hotel are a sensory delight.

The reason I was
...more
Krystle
Let me just say this right off! This is a book where the main character is Japanese, written by a Japanese person! HOMYGOD! Do you not know how rare that is? Especially in the YA fantasy market. This is sorely lacking! In fact any PoC written by PoC is horribly absent. Publishers, FIX THIS!

Anyway, I was all excited and ramped up and then… Goodness. I was let down really hard and I thought things were gonna end with me in a wretched mess, despising and despairing the whole time after. The reason
...more
Midnight Bloom
When I first read the plot description, I thought Half World sounded interesting and showed some promise, but within the first few pages, I already had a feeling I was going to be disappointed by the end... and I was right.

Told in third person, Half World is an Asian influenced fantasy novel. The realms are at stake- long ago the cycle between the Realm of Flesh, Half World, and the Realm of Spirit was severed, and now those in Half World (those who are dead but can't pass into spirit) are forev
...more
Maya
Half World is the darkest Asian Fantasy novel I've read so far.

The landscapes are either literally shades of gray without any color or "unsafe" neighborhoods in rundown ghettos. In Half World there are mountains of bones, bridges of crows, and inhabitants lost in endless cycles of suffering.

The place descriptions are never long, but very detailed. You can tell that the author has a real picture in her head, of Melanie's poor apartment, her hiding places, the tunnel leading to the other world an
...more
Barbara Gordon
This book moves at a dead run. There are two prologues, one distant past and one recent past. The first is a pared-down legend-backstory, but the second is grab-reader-by-throat.
Then the story proper begins, as Melanie's mother goes missing, and she gets a phone call (on a disconnected phone) from the deeply-creepy Mr. Glueskin telling her what she has to do if she ever wants to see her mother again. Because the reader has already encountered Mr. Glueskin in the second prologue, this is even cre
...more
Jenny
The cover of this book is gorgeous. What can I say? It drew me in, compelling me to read it. I also happen to be a fan of fantasy and a teenager looking to enjoy young adult again. As my two star rating hints, it didn't spark the passion for YA I once had nor did it satisfy my craving for the genre.

Taking place in a universe composed of three realms - the Realm of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and Half World - this book is set up for a fantastical delight. But for me, despite the countless creatur
...more
sweet pea
Hiromi Goto is one of my favorite authors. so it's no surprise that i love this book. Melanie's coming-of-age journey is one of the most touching i have read. everything falls into place for her - utilizing gifts and the kindness of others. but, as that's her fate, it didn't irk me. the mix of myth, fantasy, and reality is deftly done. the concept of Half World is brilliant. the main antagonist, Mr. Glueskin, seems purely evil. but by the end of the novel, we see things differently. i like when ...more
Michael
Reading this was an extraordinary experience. I can't remember the last time I finished a book in 24 hours. I would call it a mix between Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Clive Barker's Weaveworld. Like those two tales, Half World is a story about a human entering a fantastical world in order to find redemption, and also getting the bugaboos frightened out of them!

I loved the unexpected heroine in Half World; in many ways she is deficient in the very qualities we are taught to associate with h
...more
K. Bird
Melanie Tamaki is 14 years old, on the "slow-learner" track in school, bullied by classmates, strangely loved by crows, and coping with a mother who is constantly sick and can't keep a job.

But do to the prologue wherein a pregnant woman escapes from Half-Life World, we know why her mother is sick all the time, and that Melanie is a prophesied child who might be able to heal the sundered links between our world, the half-life world where we should work out our earthly terrors, and the world of th
...more
Melody
"Half World is a haunting combination of a coming-of-age novel and a spiritual quest, a mad funhouse of horrors and a tale of redemption and love. Wonderfully odd, and quite unforgettable." — Neil Gaiman



With an eye-catching cover, an intriguing title and not to mention a blurb from Neil Gaiman, how could I possibly ignore this book? It even piqued my husband's curiosity, which I took it as a good sign because he rarely took notice of what I'm reading (well, he's not a reader like the way we all
...more
Katie
Half World was interesting. The prose had a fairytale quality that reminded me of Malinda Lo's "Ash" and Cindy Pon's "Silver Phoenix", but for some reason I had a lot of trouble getting into it.

That said, this book as so many elements that I really appreciate, including:
- The protagonist, Melanie. When we meet her, she is running away from school bullies. Melanie is an easy target. She is poor. She doesn't have access to good food, so she is both overweight and hungry. Her mother is unable to ke
...more
Eilonwy
I grabbed this book off the New YA shelf at my library for the gorgeous cover art and the unusual plot. Overall, I enjoyed the story and could hardly put it down. In some ways it's a typical quest book, but in other ways it's a bit of a horror story, with some extremely creepy imagery and activity in the middle (so, NOT for the very squeamish or those prone to nightmares).

Melanie grew on me as the story progressed and she rose to the difficulties she faced, finding a strength in herself that sh
...more
Sabra Embury
Melanie doesn't have it easy she's chubby, making poor grades at school, she has no friends and her single mother is always exhausted and between jobs leaving them with little means for food and comfort.

One day after school Melanie's mother is missing and determined to find her, Melanie ventures through a portal to a place called Half World, a world of grotesque hybrid animal-human creatures lead by a villain called Mr Glueskin, where everything is gray, bleak and ghostly; and starfish creature
...more
Shannon Kitchens
I love this book. It's beautifully written; it's a powerful and unique story; and it reminds me strongly of Neil Gaiman]'s work.

It's a dark and grotesque children's fantasy, with a relatable hero, and a rat. (I love rats, and it's always exciting to see a rat hero.) There's a strong Asian influence in the story that is reflected in both the motifs and writing style.

Oh the style! The prose of this story is simply beautiful. Lyrical and percise, and easy to breeze through. The descriptions are so
...more
Christian Hendriks
What I liked about Half World, beyond the cosmology, was the book's pacifism. Half World does not cheap out on how broken and seemingly irredeemable people can get, nor on how awful these people can make the world. Half World itself is something between Hell and Purgatory, except that the inhabitants all torture themselves and each other without the need for devils. (The excellent final touch is that the Half World looks mostly like our own world.) However, the novel does not therefore resort to ...more
Jan
14-year-old Melanie is thrust into Half World, a purgatory for souls that cannot move on to the next world, on a journey to save her mother. She must battle the revolting Mr. Glueskin, who is the overlord of Half World and is determined to keep the denizens of Half World enslaved.

This is a graphic novel that combines fairy tale and fantasy and gives it a dark twist. The book is written in a cinematic style, with bizarre and wonderful illustrations by Tamaki that fit this unusual fairy tale. I li
...more
Jessica
Hiromi Goto's words are like reading a Hayao Miyazaki film. With a few illustrations littered throughout, Goto paints robust and terrifying worlds, including our own. The despair and neglect Melanie experiences in her impoverished life with her mother, an alcoholic in love with a wanted criminal, is a devastating world of abuse, lacking colour and warmth. It is not until Melanie must travel to another realm, the Half World, that she realizes what a world sincerely lacking in colour looks, smells ...more
Ricki
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
This is a very creepy fantasy novel (its depiction of the purgatorial half world reminds me of The Shining), whose use of Asian influences was refreshingly different than has become the norm. I also liked the way Melanie's weight was handled, and how her heavy body was very subtly and non-sexually depicted as beautiful in the half world (for having life and color).
Anila
Hiromi Goto might give Holly Black a run for her money in the category of gritty fantasy. That's the highest compliment I can pay this book, and it's no small matter.
It was bizarre, cool, disturbing, fun, compelling, original, and featured a more-than-pleasantly-plump heroine. Yes! Goto's got guts to do that. I send her a virtual high-five.
Lissibith
It didn't take long into this book for me to start getting a very fairy tale vibe from it. and now that I've finished it, I feel like that's the intended direction, and I sort of love it for that reason.

In Half-World, reality encompasses three realms. First there's the living world (don't have the book on me at the moment to get the proper terms, my apologies) where folks live out their lives. when everything is working, then after death people move to the Half-World, a sort of purgatory where p
...more
Anna
The universe of Half World is genuinely creative and fascinating...
[Spoilers]
Souls endlessly cycle through three Realms: the Realm of Flesh, Half World, and the spiritual Realm. After they die in the Realm of Flesh, their souls go to Half World, where they must process their regrets before transcending into a ethereal spiritual realm of enlightenment, and after a period are reborn into the Realm of the Flesh.
When the cycle is interrupted, the inhabitants of Half World are left stranded in thei
...more
Mandi
Such a cute story! I grabbed this book for the cover art, so I went in knowing nothing at all about it, and I'm really glad I gave it a try. The world building is really neat, the characters fun and memorable (and I mean, come on! A book that celebrates diverse body types and orientations and *gasp* acknowledges that people over the age of 30 exist? That old people can be frickin' awesome? Sign me up!)

Really, though, this is a quick read, original and quite charming, and everyone should give it
...more
Jonna Gjevre
Like Miyazaki's glorious film Spirited Away, Hiromi Goto's novel Half World depicts a young girl who braves a realm of monsters to save her parents.

An awkward 14-year-old, Melanie Tamaki follows her alcoholic mother to the purgatorial Half-World, a phantasmagoric realm of monsters and broken spirits, which are meant to remind the reader uncomfortably of Bosch's depiction of Hell. It's a dark place to go. (Any novel that begins with a severed finger as the price to open a gate is probably going
...more
Lexie
Vivid and creative. Unfortunately, it fell a little flat. The dreamscape was not a place I wanted to escape to; it was colourless, depressing, and often disgusting. I like when fantasy has a hard, dark edge, but this was, well... Gooey. Literally. Slimy, elastic mozzarella cheese goo everywhere.
I enjoyed the uniqueness of the protagonist, (an overweight teenage Asian girl) but her voice annoyed me after a while. The overuse of adverbs also grinder on my nerves.
It was odd, though, and not too l
...more
Jenna
The concept intrigued me as did the positive quote from Gaiman on the cover. The concept of the realms and a realm of eternal torment reminded me of the three spirits from Wolf Brother as well as Chinese hell and the haunting images in Haw Paw Villa.... But the book itself dragged and Melanie irritated me for the majority of the time. The image of a black and white colorless world was interesting but I still couldn't completely understand the concept of the realms and how Melanie came into all o ...more
celina
actually 3.5/5 for reasons such as plot ig but let me just say it's 3:30 am and i'm too terrified to sleep bc of this book lmao. worldbuilding and premise were really cool and ppl in these reviews are WAY harsh on the protagonist like pls "never showed a courageous moment" uM i was scared out of my mind just reading about this in my bed at night so idk maybe the fact that she was able to keep going... so far... in literal hell for the sake of her mom and later the universe is PRETTY DAMN BRAVE i ...more
Ari
Melanie is chubby, dubbed a 'slow learner' in school, and so she is bullied. I never felt connected to Melanie though. I sympathised with her being made fun of, but that was about all I felt for her. Sympathy. We don't learn much about Melanie's life, all we know is that she is poor, picked on and loves to read. I wanted to learn more about her history. I also would have liked to know where her story took place in the real world (my guess would be Canada just because that's where the author live ...more
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Write Reads Podcast: Write Reads #23 Half World by Hiromi Goto 1 3 Dec 11, 2014 11:00AM  
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87495
Hiromi’s first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms (1994), received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in the Caribbean and Canada region and was co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award. Her short stories and poetry have been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. Her second novel, The Kappa Child (2001), was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Regional ...more
More about Hiromi Goto...
Chorus Of Mushrooms The Kappa Child Darkest Light (Half World, #2) Hopeful Monsters The Water of Possibility (In the Same Boat)

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“She was responsible for the things she chose. That's all. She almost managed a tiny smile. It was simultaneously an incredible responsibility and almost nothing at all, she thought wonderingly.” 5 likes
“Thank you to the crows that amass on Vancouver evenings and fly home to the darkness of Burnaby Mountain. Thank you to the brilliance of wet moss and lichen. Thank you to the rays of golden brown light slanting in the cool of a green lake. Thank you to the shoals of glinting fish. Thank you to the sweet gems of salmonberries. Thank you to the decaying leaves for their rich brown smell. Thank you to the slugs and wood lice beneath the leaves. Thank you to to my plant friends who keep me company as I write. I am deeply grateful to share this cycle with you.” 4 likes
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