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Half World Hardcover – April 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670012203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670012206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Goto’s contemporary fantasy is set primarily in Half World, where souls go after leaving the Realm of Flesh for a cleansing experience before passage to the Realm of Spirit. Long ago, though, something happened to throw this order out of whack, and Half World has since been twisted into a Hieronymus Bosch–like purgatory, where inhabitants are terrorized by the perverted machinations of the evil Mr. Glueskin. The story sends 14-year-old Melanie into Half World to save her mother. There, she must almost literally wade through a sea of hideous creatures, propelled by prophetic hints about being the child who can realign the realms and bring peace to untold numbers of tortured souls. Although the nightmarish world is certainly memorable, Goto is prone to melodramatic overwriting, and the logic governing the realms is confusing. Most unusual, and interesting, is her heroine, who is often the exact opposite of plucky, burdened by paralyzing bouts of self-doubt, worry, and despair. Sporadic illustrations from Tamaki (Skim, 2008) add delicate nuance to the largely dark but ultimately cathartic journey. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
I highly recommend picking it up!
Evie Seo
A beautiful story with amazing descriptions and an atmosphere only found in the best Asian films.
Amazon Customer
A lovely story about sheer courage and a strong heart.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Prentiss on November 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Half world was a good quick read, kid friendly and enjoyable. The book did have a Neil Gaiman feel to it, but I really wished it was longer and a little more involved with the characters and story backdrop. I found the environment in the book to be quite cool, but not detailed enough and also felt the same with some of the unique and fun characters within - the book just lacked a little depth. It brings forth this wonderful place and just kinda skims the surface of what's there and those that inhabit the land.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The unconventional protagonist and this skilled author are what drew me to this book. Goto's strange tale isn't something that's been told before although I would place it as a dark fairy tale. A coming of age story for a chubby, asian girl who seeks to rescue her mom, and must enter a frightening world of 'purgatory' where the inhabitants live in a cycle of trauma (like Sisyphus futiley pushing the rock up the hill). This is an empowering story that refuses to follow conventional ideas of what a hero or an acceptible girl is. A lovely story about sheer courage and a strong heart.
My only disappointment was that I was hoping to enter a world of Japanese fantasty, where there are demons and spirits and foxes galore (Spirited Away style). :) Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be adding it to my physical book collection (I bought the kindle ver.) when it comes out in paperback. <3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anon. on February 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I laughed and cried with Melanie. Though I mostly cried. This bold tale of a girl who goes to find her mom is an amazing read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Evie Seo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Half World was absolutely enthralling! I loved every single page of this book and ended up kicking myself for not picking it up earlier! Seriously, how did I miss it? It's such a sparkly wonder of a book! An excellent, entirely original and thoroughly enjoyable story that not only compels and entertains, but also touches your heart and makes you realize the importance of life, family, and hope. Packed with action, mythology, symbolism and fantastic creatures, Half World delivers just the right mixture of adventure, excitement and magic.

Long, long, long ago, before mortals began to inscribe mortal religions onto stone tablets and parchment, there was a time of the Three Realms: the Realms of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and Half World.

The Three Realms used to be connected, allowing people to move from one to another, in due time, as each person lives, dies, half-lives, and eventually becomes a Spirit. The sacred cycle of life and death was very important, it ensured balance and harmony. But then someone of something divided the cycle. The link between the Realms was severed, bringing about chaos and despair. Before that happened, Half World was an intermediary place where the troubled could work through their mortal suffering before they were allowed to move on to the Realm of Spirit. Now, those stuck in the Half World are caught in a loop, doomed to relive the pain and suffering of their lives. Melanie Tamaki, a chubby, unpopular 14-year-old girl, is the only person in the whole world capable of breaking the binding and reuniting the Realms. Determined to save her mother (who was kidnapped by the evil Mr. Glueskin), she's about to embark on a very dangerous journey, and one that will change her life forever.

And what a breath taking journey that was!
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Star @ The Bibliophilic Book Blog on March 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Half World is an enjoyable and quick read, which I felt was like a dark faery tale, if I had to classify it. This is a unique tale from my perspective as I'm not versed in Asian lore. Melanie's trying to rescue her mother from Mr. Glueskin and along the way, is beginning to realize her potential and place in the world. I thought it was very empowering to the every day teenager, who doesn't fit in with what is considered "acceptable". I'm not sure I would consider her a 'hero', even though she is on the hero's journey. Does Melanie have what it takes to rescue her mother and save the Three Realms? Pick up this wonderful book and find out!!

Half World Series: Half World (1), Darkest Light (2)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the vivid descriptions in this book and it had a new take on the afterlife that I liked. I would like to read the sequel on my kindle. Failing that, I will read her semi-autographical adult novel.
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