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Half World (Half World #1)

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  999 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
Melanie Tamaki is humanbut her parents arent. 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 Worldand neither of them may return alive. Imagine "Coraline" as filmed by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki ("Howls Moving Castle"), or Neil Gaiman collaborating w ...more
ebook, 166 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Viking Children's (first published January 30th 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Miriam
Oct 27, 2014 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2012 Sen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Caseythecanadianlesbrarian
Melanie Tamaki is a lonely girl shunned by her peers: she loves books but she’s not very good at school, she has no special talents to speak of, she’s fat, and her single, alcoholic mother loves her but is neglectful at best. Her only friend is an eccentric old woman named Ms. Wei who runs a convenience store. She’s not exactly the kind of person you’d expect to be the heroine in a young adult fantasy novel. But, lo and behold, it is Melanie who is the star of Vancouver-based queer author Hiromi ...more
Krystle
Sep 08, 2013 Krystle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 reaso
...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
Barbara Gordon
May 01, 2012 Barbara Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Liz at Midnight Bloom Reads
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
Jun 21, 2012 Maya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian-fantasy
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
Jenny
Jul 08, 2011 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2010 sweet pea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Kogiopsis
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.
Charles
Stuff I Read – Half World by Hiromi Goto Review

I've been meaning to read this since reading the author's Hopeful Monsters and seeing her at WisCon and I was rather pumped that the price dropped low enough on Amazon to snag myself a copy (I'm thinking it is out of print and the price varies a lot from week to week). But the book is a YA tale of a young girl, Melanie Tamaki, finding herself in the middle of a completely insane and messed up situation involving the three realms (the material world,
...more
Carolyn
This is very dark, disturbing urban fantasy. And, to make me even happier, it's Canadian! It seems to be sort of set in a Toronto or Vancouver kind of a location, while it blends Japanese and Chinese mythologies into the Canadian metropolis setting. Not for the faint of heart; you have to be able to handle a fair bit of gorey darkness to enjoy this book.
Melanie is inadequate, and that's what makes this book great. Half World is a novel of helping people who are not enough. Ms Wei helps Melanie
...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. Lincoln
Apr 25, 2010 K. Lincoln rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2010 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Feb 19, 2010 Sabra Embury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2011 Ricki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ross
Jun 12, 2015 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this one for my daughter on her birthday. She reported: "Dad you've got to read it!" Really enjoyed it.
Melissa Cabbage
Apr 19, 2016 Melissa Cabbage rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Spirited Away, and this book jacket was screaming for me to pick it up and give it a try. Check the synopsis, a book about the spiritual realms - tick, I am so ready to read this book.

Except I didn't enjoy it as much as I had wanted to.

I love stories about the spiritual realms, and I am often biased towards any books that talk about spirits roaming whether in our world or in an alternate parallel universe, I don't care, as long as they acknowledge the afterlife (they get multiple points i
...more
Hannah
Devastating and unforgettable. The book starts out so dark that I had to pace myself, taking breaks after reading something particularly harrowing. The tension is constant, from the first pages until we're back in the Realm of the Flesh for good. The book does lighten up towards the end, though, and the last few chapters were gentle and sweet.

I gave it 4 stars overall, but an extra star because it was an epic where the heroine commits no violence. Melanie was an ordinary girl, but her commitment
...more
Lindy
At a book launch party recently, I learned that some people always skip reading prologues and introductions and go straight into Chapter 1. If you are one of those people, please try to change your habits... for this book at least.

In the prologue we learn about the nature of three realms of existence: The Realm of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit and Half World. In the introduction, we meet a young couple, soon to have a baby, fleeing from evil Mr. Glueskin in the Half World. Chapter 1 opens with Mela
...more
Jennifer
Aug 10, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
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).
Natalie Carey
This is difficult to rate... 3-3.5 ish.

I enjoyed the story, and the many messages it conveys, especially to young girls. Majority of the characters are female, and it really illustrates the power that women of all ages have. It showed that young girls can be insecure, yes, but also that they can be strong and can depend on themselves, which is a great message to young girls (and boys, etc.), which is the intended audience, I think.

While I did like the story a lot, as well as the characters and a
...more
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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...

Other Books in the Series

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“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.” 7 likes
“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
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