Half World

Half World

Book - 2009
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Melanie Tamaki is an outsider. As the unpopular and impoverished only child of a loving but neglectful mother, she is just barely coping with school and life. But everything changes on the day she returns home to find her mother is missing, lured back to Half World by a vile creature calling himself Mr. Glueskin. Soon Melanie embarks on an epic and darkly fantastical journey to Half World to save her mother. What she does not yet realize is that the state of the universe is at stake.... Award-winning author Hiromi Goto's novel is an adventurous, genre-bending fantasy of shape-shifting characters, tortured half-lives, and redemption.
Publisher: Toronto : Puffin Canada, 2009.
ISBN: 9780670069651
0670069655
Characteristics: 233 p. :,ill.

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ParnassusReads
Apr 27, 2013

The Realm of Half World, for all its gruesomeness, sounds fascinating. Readers have already drawn apt comparisons to Neil Gaiman, Charles De Lint, and China Mievelle, so I won’t drag that out. What’s a little disappointing about Half World is that we get to see so very little of it. Melanie lands right where she needs to be (a hotel that reminded me of Sartre’s hell) and never explores the half-built mishmash of the city and its twisted inhabitants. This is a much more straight-forward hero quest novel than anything else, and as such it steams along nicely. Because Melanie always get some form of help right when she needs it, we’re never really worried for her safety. Melanie is a sympathetic character and her growth and ability to face her fears gives her some depth, possibly enough to be relatable to her intended audience. The prose is likewise straightforward, almost plain, and sometimes a little to wordy and repetitive. But the story clips along at a fast enough pace that casual readers probably won’t care too much.

Unfortunately, what interested me most about this novel was not its characters, but its world, which was only barely sketched in. What we do get is quite vivid, Goto’s world building is good, if only briefly done. Goodreads has a #1 listed after the title, so perhaps the author will return to it, or the two other Realms, in future installments. I’m just not sure if I’ll be bothered to read them.

s
sarifu
Oct 16, 2011

Really loved Kappa Child but this one was a lot wackier with slimy, smelly manga-like characters and action-packed scenes. Liked that it was partially set in a familiar neighborhood. For all ages really.

t
Tilda
Nov 22, 2010

This book is so strange and so good.

I found it because I *love* Jillian Tamaki's art work so much and she had posted some of the illustrations for this book on her sketch blog. It was even better to realize that it was written by Hiromi Goto who is a great, iconoclastic Canadian writer who I have been following since her first novel, "A Chorus of Mushrooms". What a happy confluence. Not only is this a collaboration between an equally cool and talented Canadian writer and artist but the "real" world parts of this book are so clearly inspired by Vancouver - very evocative.

This book is about Melanie, a lumpen misfit who, after being chased by bullies, sulks back home to find that her burn-out mom has disappeared. A creepy phone call from a maniacal stranger informs her that her mother had been abducted and Melanie is given a bizarre set of instructions that she must follow in order to rescue her.

A lot of the visual imagery in this book is really intense and unusual. Though it is very original, the tone of the book is reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki's films - it shares the same intuitive emotional logic and intrinsically corporeal magic. There is a constant thread of consumption imagery throughout the book. Someone is always yearning for food, being eaten themselves, choking back bile, being chewed, swallowed and digested. Very "Goblin Market" (and I don't mean in the usual imaginatively tepid "urban fantasy" sense). Goto negotiates mythologies, both traditional and of her own making, as adeptly as Neil Gaiman.

This story has a particularly good villain - genuinely repellent, oddly fascinating and his motivation, when it's revealed, is so surprising and has so much emotional resonance.

This would be a great book for readers between thirteen and seventeen but I think it's smart, strange and lurid enough for any reader who enjoys unconventional and elegantly imagined adventure.
Visceral and clever.

i
Iowakid
Aug 24, 2010

The author has created an alarming world. I like the contrasts between half-world and this world.

scarydirectorwoman May 05, 2010

Oh I am WOWED! This was also one of my favourites! It reminded me of miyazaki's manga novels!!! The cover looked freiky but the book was Awesome. !!!

C_Nestico Apr 23, 2010

This book was quite an enjoyable read for me. It’s not really something that I’d normally be reading, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot. The development of the main character throughout the novel was very well done. It was hard to relate to Melanie though. Simply because I’m not living the same life as she was. Tormented by her classmates, having a sick mother who couldn’t keep a steady job. I’m surprised she didn’t hate the world. Even at the end of the novel- ~WARNING SPOILERS~ -when she almost lost her mother to Mr. Glueskin at his party, and then after, when she saves her mother, her mother and her father left her with Baby G. She was practically by herself. If it weren’t for Ms. Wei I’m not quite sure what she would’ve done. If I were in Melanie’s situation I would be incredibly depressed, even if I ended up saving millions (or even billions) of lives from the separation of the three Realms. Melanie wanted her mother back, but in the end she could only go back with the Baby G and the fragment of her mother’s spirit through the Red Jade Rat. I think the character, Melanie, is incredibly strong to be at peace at the end of the book.

marikha Apr 16, 2010

this book had a great ending. it was really nnice to see a different perspective in the writting world.

Maha_K Apr 11, 2010

Not my type of book. towards the end, i had to force myself to finish it. I didnt really like the style of writing but the story was not bad :)

cindersister Apr 01, 2010

The entire concept of "Half World" was simply amazing, and I loved the idea of what Hiromi Goto conceptualized.

In the end, I found I was dragging my feet through the novel and couldn't bring myself to appreciate the main character, due to her characterization and the style with which this book was written.

Chocolate55 Mar 29, 2010

I started reading this book today during MSIP. Its really good so far.

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VeganGreen Jan 15, 2010

VeganGreen thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12

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