Jenny's Reviews > Half World

Half World by Hiromi Goto
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Jul 08, 2011

it was ok
Read in July, 2011

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 creatures and physical oddities, it fell flat. It had to do with the descriptions mostly which were brief (granted, at 230 double spaced, large print pages, the entire novel is brief as well) and the writing style. It just didn't work for me and never drew me in like the excellent cover had.

I hate grammatical errors unless they're used effectively and sparingly. Hiromi Goto peppered her novel with fragments which really got to me after a while. Fragments. So many of them. Anger.

It wasn't just that, however. The writing is simplistic, even for young adult. I also have a real aversion to the word "stink" in all its varieties, and I'm sure if I went back and counted the amount of times it's used, I would run out of fingers and toes before the end of the book. That's a personal preference issue if anything, but still, how many times can anyone take the same description over and over?

"Simple" seems to be a heavy theme for this novel, considering the writing style and the characters. Melanie Tamaki, our heroine, is a fourteen-year-old girl whose bullied, chubby, and poor. Her mother is sickly and thus can't work for too long without tiring out and leaving her job. Their situation is desperate, but we never get a real sense of this - again, partly because the novel is so brief. A true background of either character (or any character) is never given, only fleeting glimpses. I think Melanie is fairly interesting, and unique for the genre too, but I never connected with her.

Every character has the potential to be three dimensional, but they aren't developed enough to reach it. I know at one point, the narration questions how Mr. Glueskin, the principal villain, came to be evil. I was excited because I thought I would be getting an answer. The answer never came. His situation is revealed but his character is not. He remains comic, grotesque, and devoid of any personality trait besides evil.

This entire novel had potential, but like the characters, it lacks proper development. Still, it's unique and fresh for a genre riddled with paranormal romances making it somewhat worthwhile. I've read better and I've read worse. I wouldn't recommend it.
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