Half World

( 8 )

Overview

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 ...

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Half World

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin for the Center of Childrens Books
[A] rich, elegant, and compelling novel.
Booklist
The nightmarish world is certainly memorable-and illustrations from Tamaki add delicate nuance to the largely dark but ultimately cathartic journey.
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)
From the Publisher
“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

“Half World is Boschean delight à la Goto: a magical, madcap, and deliciously creepy tale of tribulations, terror and triumph; a girl-power adventure in screaming jelly-toned colours." - Nalo Hopkinson

“Myths and monsters, love and terror — Hiromi Goto is a master storyteller!” - Ellen Klages, author of The Green Glass Sea

“Half World is an absolute treasure of a book, one of those hidden gems that deserves as wide an audience as possible.” - Charles de Lint

“Like a Hieronymous Bosch painting come to life, Half World throws readers into a violent struggle to restore cosmic balance between the Realm of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and the Half World…. those with a taste for dark fantasy (and gore) will be thrilled by Melanie’s confrontation with her own fears and Goto’s nightmarish creatures” - Quill & Quire

“Half World's protagonist is an agent of change in a fixed netherworld, and for young adults who at times feel overwhelmed by life, this is a powerful message indeed…. Through charting Melanie's demanding trek, the novel suggests that by making good choices for ourselves we can overcome the ennui of our own half-worlds. Goto's Half World is a crazy, dark and yet cathartic journey. Hang on for the ride.” - Vancouver Sun

“A dark, one-of-a-kind epic about familial love.” - Georgia Straight

“In Half World, readers are taken on a thrilling, poignant adventure where Eastern and Western mythologies are woven together. Commonwealth award-winning author Hiromi Goto has created a dark, otherworldly page-turner that will most certainly appeal to young adult readers regardless of whether they are speculative fiction enthusiasts. Goto’s elegant prose is graced by about a dozen black and white illustrations by the award-winning Jillian Tamaki. Her brush and ink illustrations superbly capture Melanie’s journey and the turmoil of the Half World. Goto has created an absolutely riveting tale that moves with cinematic pacing and vividness. Half World is nothing short of a masterpiece.” - Canadian Children's Book News

“Author Hiromi Goto…has created a story that is complex, unsettling (sometimes downright stomach-churning), thought-provoking and not an easy read. For those who stay with it, however, the results are rewarding.” - Montreal Gazette

“Hopeful and beautifully strange.” - Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a fast-moving and provocative journey with cosmically high stakes, and one that should readily appeal to fans of dark, nightmarish fantasy.” - Publisher’s Weekly

“[A] rich, elegant, and compelling novel.” - The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“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.” - School and Library Journal

“Entirely original and unclassifiable. Richly imagined phantasmagoric scenes decorate every iridescent page. Goto’s stylish, incendiary prose lifts Half World above the YA category; this novel crosses age boundaries and could just as easily be categorized as a book for adults.” - Sunburst Award Jury

“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.” - Children’s Literature

“Readers looking for a dark, horrific fantasy or an unusual heroine will enjoy this tale.” - Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670012206
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • 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 was born in Chiba-ken, Japan, and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1969. Her first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms, examined the immigration experience and was the 1995 regional winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book and co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award. She is also the author of a children’s novel, The Water of Possibility, another adult novel, The Kappa Child, which was the 2001 recipient of the James Tiptree Jr., Award, the short story collection Hopeful Monsters, the Sunburst Award-winning Half World and, most recently, the acclaimed Darkest Light. Visit her at hiromigoto.com or on Twitter @hinganai.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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    Posted March 21, 2014

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    Posted April 26, 2012

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    Posted August 1, 2011

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