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Half World

(Half World #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,464 ratings  ·  275 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.
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published January 30th 2009 by Puffin Canada
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  1,464 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
May 18, 2012 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:

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
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2012 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 rea
Barbara Gordon
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
4 stars for creativity, 2 stars for how much I actually enjoyed it. I didn't really. It was just too creepy for me! ...more
Apr 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
was a little wordy at times but i really enjoyed this. especially the ending. if you want nightmares, read this right before bed. worked for me, ha ha. the novel had parts that reminded me of Pan's Labyrinth, Clive Barker novels, Neil Gaiman, and Miyazaki's Spirited Away. and the fact that it had a main character who was of color was nice, too. ;-) ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
It took me some time to get through this, and I'm glad I finally finished it. I didn't love it, I didn't really enjoy reading it - at least not in the usual way. I wasn't invested in the story and there was nothing I personally related to. I am glad I read this anyway because of the impressive writing. The writing isn't awesome, but it leaves a lot of impressions. All the detailed descriptions slowed the book down and made it hard to read at times (the things described are not pleasant), but the ...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
Thank you razOrbill Canada for the signed copy!!

Melanie is seen as a chubby, slow witted, bookworm who lives in the poor section with her mother. One day she she comes home and finds her mother has disappeared. She gets a phone call from a man on the phone telling her to go through a door in a tunnel so she can save her mother who is being held by him. Her mother is in another Realm called Half World. With help from her friend Mrs. Wei she for through the door and into Half World. Melanie finds
sweet pea
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
May 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
It paints a good portrait of a hostile and otherworldly setting, but the characters arcs didn't do anything for me and the plot was fairly MG despite the violence. ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Japanese folk lore meets modern day in this odd coming of age story.
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
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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,
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
"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
Sabra Embury
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
K. Lincoln
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Carolyn Klassen
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
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
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
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
This is a book/story that I could see Laika turning into a brilliant animated film. (They are the folks responsible for Coraline and Paranorman.)

There were things that I absolutely loved about his book, and then there were moments where I couldn't help but think, "Really? This is what we're going with?"

The setup and world that Goto has created is wonderful. It's a perfect balance of odd and macabre, and her antagonist, one Mr. Glueskin, is all sorts of creepy. This, I loved. I loved a lot.

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
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 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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 l
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" Words are Spirit, also, and when they are written down there is a power. "

I almost gave this a full 5 stars, it was THAT good! I loved the Realms and Japanese mythology and the sidekicks, including Ms. Wei, an old woman who talks only in the third person. A Magic 8 Ball that answers only in questions, riddles really. There's humor and horror and heart - sometimes all at once.

Melanie Tamaki, a 14-year-old, chubby, female of color, sets off on a quest to rescue her mom from Mr. Glueskin, a mal
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Into the Forest: Half World Spoilers Allowed 4 8 Sep 18, 2019 07:56AM  
Into the Forest: Half World Spoiler Free 11 15 Aug 27, 2019 10:38AM  
Write Reads Podcast: Write Reads #23 Half World by Hiromi Goto 1 4 Dec 11, 2014 11:00AM  

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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

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