Half World

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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 with Charles de Lint. Half World is vivid, visceral, unforgettable, a combination of prose and images that ...

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Half World

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Overview

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 with Charles de Lint. Half World is vivid, visceral, unforgettable, a combination of prose and images that will haunt you.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
The nightmarish world is certainly memorable-and illustrations from Tamaki add delicate nuance to the largely dark but ultimately cathartic journey.
Bulletin for the Center of Childrens Books
[A] rich, elegant, and compelling novel.
VOYA - Brenna Shanks
Fourteen-year-old Melanie hates school, where the Valkyries bully her, teasing her about her weight, her poor grades, and her poverty. Her mother is often ill, leaving them at the mercy of an indifferent world. Her mother's illness stems from a secret source—she's not from this world. Once there were three worlds, the Realm of Flesh, the Half World, and the Realm of Spirit. Each world served a function, and souls transitioned through them in an endless cycle, but that cycle was disrupted and the souls in each realm were trapped. The Realm of Flesh became the strife-riddled "reality" we know today. The Realm of Spirit faded, becoming a distant idea of heaven. But the Half World, where souls worked out the traumas of their previous life, became a hellish purgatory. This is the world her parents come from and to which her mother must return. When she disappears, Melanie follows, hoping to save her from the gruesome Mr. Glueskin. Prophecy hints that if she can save her family, she can heal the realms. Goto's world-building is vivid and complex, if sometimes a bit muddled. Asian influences abound. The Half World is a Boschesque nightmare. Melanie, overweight, timid, and socially awkward, is no typical heroine. Of course, finding confidence is part of her journey. The melodrama sometimes overwhelms the story, but the action is fast-paced. Tamaki's illustrations are a nice touch. Readers looking for a dark, horrific fantasy or an unusual heroine will enjoy this tale. Reviewer: Brenna Shanks
Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Long ago, life and death were kept in balance by three realms—the Realm of Flesh, where the living resided; Half World, where the recently deceased made peace with their greatest traumas; and the Realm of Spirit, where the newly enlightened dwelled before returning to the Realm of Flesh and beginning the cycle anew. When this cycle is disrupted, chaos breaks out as the living, dead, and spirits became locked in their realms with no opportunity for transcendence. Amid this chaos, a pregnant Half Worlder accomplishes the seemingly impossible when she escapes into the Realm of Flesh and gives birth to a living child. Fourteen years later, the child—now a teenager named Melanie—learns her mother has been kidnapped back to Half World by the sadistic Mr. Glueskin, one of Half World's most powerful creatures. With the help of a wise mentor and talking rat, Melanie travels to Half World where she navigates the nightmarish land in search of her mother—only to learn that as a living child in a world of traumatized spirits, she may hold the key to restoring balance among the three realms. Somewhat reminiscent of Japanese anime films such as Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, not only in relation to its bizarre characters but also its themes about reclaiming harmony, this novel skates the line between a coming-of-age fantasy and first-rate horror show. It is not a story for the squeamish because it contains many scenes of sadism and torture (Mr. Glueskin devours many unfortunate Half Worlders and several characters must engage in self-mutilation to survive). Even so, the sheer weirdness of the plot, coupled with Goto's gripping narration, will make it difficult for readers to turn away from this book. It is a great title to recommend to fantasy fans who are familiar with—and enjoy—warped fiction. Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—A prophecy tells that only a child born of the lifeless Half World can reunite the three worlds of Flesh, Spirit, and the Half World that have been split asunder. Enter Melanie Tamaki, fleeing from some school bullies. She arrives home to find that her mother, bedridden when she left for school, is mysteriously gone. Melanie receives a creepy phone call from someone demanding that she go to the "Half World" or else her mother will be hurt. She turns to elderly Mrs. Wei for help and, from her, hears of the prophecy. Mrs. Wei feeds her and gives her a pendant of a jade rat. So fortified, Melanie sets off on her quest. Her mother has collected the artwork of Escher and Bosch and, upon arrival in Half World, Melanie begins to understand why. In this world literally bereft of color every being is grotesque, most barely recognizable as human at all. Cast among these horrors, Melanie must remain hidden until she can rescue her mother and somehow save the three realms. Goto has created an unusual fantasy horror novel that's something like a Gaiman tale with a dash of Asian magic. Readers who want a different kind of fantasy and who like a villain who makes the skin crawl should enjoy this quick read. It's a rare treat and belongs in most YA collections.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Publishers Weekly
Raised in impoverished circumstances by her single mother, overweight 14-year-old Melanie is the target of ridicule at school and leads a lonely, introverted life. Then an evil being named Mr. Glueskin kidnaps her mother, forcing Melanie to travel to Half World, a colorless land that has been sundered from the realms of flesh and spirit, its deceased inhabitants cursed to relive the most traumatic moments of their lives. In her attempts to save her mother, Melanie learns she is destined to reunite the realms. Goto writes the hellish Half World as miserably surreal yet horrifyingly believable. A woman jumps off a bridge only to reappear again and again, and there are numerous human/animal hybrids, several of whom suffer gruesome (if temporary) deaths at the hands of the grotesque and psychotic Mr. Glueskin. Even after learning the strength of her character (and the truth about her parents), Melanie has believable relapses, but never stops fighting. It's a fast-moving and provocative journey with cosmically high stakes, and one that should readily appeal to fans of dark, nightmarish fantasy. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Fat, poor and intellectually slow, Melanie Tamaki's days are divided between torment at school and her alcoholic mother at home. The day a crow gives her a fortune cookie-one that says only "go home"-all that changes. Melanie follows her now-vanished mother into Half World, a magical limbo populated by gruesome semi-humans and characterized by despair. Chased by the oozing monstrosity Mr. Glueskin, aided only by a jade rat and a crumbling Magic 8-Ball full of cryptic advice, Melanie seeks escape from Half World with her mother. Unfortunately for Melanie, Mr. Glueskin thinks Melanie is the chosen one, the destined child who'll bring Half World back into balance with the realms of Spirit and Flesh, and he'll do anything to stop her. As Melanie is neither particularly bright nor brave, her persistence and her empathy will have to be enough. The richly flavored, often gruesome despair of the worldbuilding is enriched beautifully by Tamaki's evocative illustrations, in which the contrasts between light and darkness mirror the tale's thematic concerns. Hopeful and beautifully strange. (Fantasy. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670012206
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 221
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Hiromi Goto won the James Tiptree Jr. Award for her adult novel The Kappa Child. She lives in Canada.

Jillian Tamaki , co-creator of the multiple award-winning graphic novel Skim, lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    Fu^_^cking he^_^ll

    Bi^_^cht

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    An imaginitive adventure!

    This read quickly became one of my favorite books.

    I suggest it wholeheartedly to anyone that enjoys Neil Gaiman, Hary Potter, and Japanese culture. It is beautiful, emotional. And inspirational. It was a pleasure to read and I give it the highest of reccomendations! Easily one of the best reads of 2011 for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2011

    very thrillllinnnnggg and intense boook! people who love mystery or suspense this is perfect(:

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    Posted January 22, 2011

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