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on April 27, 2011
I recently finished Half Way Home by Hugh Howey and absolutely loved it!!! Hugh Howey is a relatively new author who I think has tons of potential. I've also read the other books by him, the Molly Fide series, and really enjoyed them too. I really can't say enough good things about them.

Half Way Home is set in a futuristic world where colonies of people are sent out to explore planets and are born as full grown adults. We follow a group of young people who were "born" too soon, only halfway through their training for their jobs in the new colony. The main character, Porter, struggles with his own emotions as he accidently becomes the leader of a group that has broken off from the main colony. This second group goes on an exploration mission and discovers the true, dark reason their mission was nearly aborted.

I really like the way the plot and the characters were developed. In some books by other authors I've read, I've felt I didn't get to know the people well enough. In this book, I really felt that I knew Porter and Kelvin and Tarsi. I felt their pain, their losses, and their happiness. I loved the pacing as well. The story didn't move too fast that your head was spinning, but I never felt it dragged. I hate to use this old line, but here it is: I laughed, I cried, I loved it!!!

I would recommend this book to older teens and adults. There are some pretty mature themes in this book, such as homosexuality, abortion, and fairly graphic death. I would only recommend this book to mature people who would be able to handle this.

This book is definitely unique. I have a hard time coming up with a point of comparison in books. This book is remotely similar to Star Trek, but even that is a stretch. It is about exploring a new planet with new creatures and a "crew" of sorts, but it is definitely different and worth reading. It is not only well-written, but thought provoking as well. It's a "make you think" book, one that I would certainly read again.
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on September 16, 2013
While reading this book, I got the feeling it was geared more toward young adult readers although I didn't get the sense it was advertised that way. "Half Way Home" was written by Hugh Howey, the best-selling author of "WOOL" and the Silo Saga and it was my overwhelming love for those books that led me to read some of his earlier work.

In a scenario somewhat reminiscent of James Cameron's "Avatar", colony ships have been sent out from various countries on Earth in a sort of "Cold War" era space race intent on exploiting the resources of new worlds for their mineral wealth and any patents that might be gained from the exotic and alien flora and fauna they encounter along the way. In an unusual twist, these ships carry their human colonist cargo in embryonic form, in a sort of biological stasis until they reach their target world. If the potential colony is deemed "viable", the ships' Artificial Intelligence allows the embryos to grow and develop for 30 years in artificial wombs or vats while the automated machinery that made the crossing with the colonists goes about preparing the landing site for their eventual "birth" as full-grown adults. With assigned jobs and all the knowledge they need to do them well, delivered via specialized computer learning while they were "en faux utero", these new humans are expected to establish the colony, harvest its resources, and eventually build more ships to send out and establish other colonies. If the colony proves to be "unviable" however, the AI has the authority to abort the whole process at any time.

The novel opens with an unexpected and chaotic birth scene... more than 400 of the 500 intended colonists have perished in a fiery conflagration, halfway through their maturation process. The 50 or 60 survivors quickly discover that their AI has for unknown reasons first initiated and then halted the abort sequence, leaving several dozen teenagers woefully unprepared to survive on a world they know nothing about. The situation quickly disintegrates into a "Lord of the Flies" type scenario with some colonists wresting control and subjugating the others, forcing them into hard labor to build a rocket that the AI insists must be their primary goal, even over self-preservation and survival.

The rest of the novel unfolds in a sometimes slow narrative, following a handful of colonists who have escaped the primary compound, determined to get away from the crushing workload, limited food sources and dismal future. In the process they discover the reasons why their AI first deemed the colony unviable and then changed its mind.

In spite of the slow parts in the middle, the novel begins and ends well, the last couple of chapters proving to be the most exciting in the whole book. Hugh Howey paints an intriguing picture of a complex alien world and it is definitely worth reading for its unusual premise and satisfying finish.
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on November 12, 2017
Sorry, but this was a dumb book.

The first strike is making all of the characters teenagers. The story is automatically reduced to one of those trashy PG 13 movie adaptations.

The second strike was the whole coming out subplot. I need to look up if Hugh Howey is gay because he writes like a straight man with the thinnest, barest, most superficial understanding of the gay experience.

The death blow was how tidy the plot wraps together. This is another easy reader story lacking rich world-building. We get a grand total of two alien lifeforms and some weird trees. Everything else is unessential to the plot and thus unremarked upon. Lazy.

I remember Wool being better.
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I decided to give this book a try after I had heard so many good things about Howey's WOOL series. I thought the premise was very interesting: in the future, countries send out pods to colonize other planets and cannibalize resources. When the pods land, the computer determines whether or not a colony will be viable or not, and if not, the colony self-destructs. In this case, the colonists are woken from their gestation 15 years early with limited training, few survivors, and an uncertain future. Unfortunately, the follow through on the premise is only so-so. There are some interesting plot points, and some of the characters are well developed, but some fall flat. Also, the author has a tendency to "foreshadow" events by basically just saying, "If I had know things would turn out so badly..." a device that gets old really quickly with overuse.

Not a bad read, but if you've got a long "to read" list, there is no need for this to jump to the top of the list. It is a very quick read though, so if you've got some free time for reading, give it a try and see if you enjoy it.
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I turned to this novel after finishing (and thoroughly enjoying) Howey's Silo saga. This novel is quite different from the Silo series, showing Howey's versatility as an author. It's a tighter, shorter, less sprawling story. For those old enough to remember Golden Age sci fi, this novel felt like a modern channeling of Heinlein, Silverberg, etc.

Early in the story, I feared it would be "Lord of the Flies" set on an unnamed planet. Instead, a better comparison would be Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky." The difference is that the underlying theme is one of hope, not despair, and the characters are teens who are becoming adults, rather than adolescents who are pretending to be.

As usual, Howey's writing style is a joy. With many Kindle sci-fi books (especially self published works), I read for the plot and little else. In Howey's books, including this one, I find myself re-reading and highlighting passages just to enjoy the play of the words. There's art in this man's writing.

This is a memorable book. More than a beach book, it will stick with you.
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on September 26, 2015
You'll see there aren't a lot of highlights from Halfway Home on my Kruzoo blog but look, you aren't reading Howey for lyrical lines that you can tuck away your whole life. But I look forward to new books by Howey almost more than any other author. As soon as you open of his stories you know that it will consume the next few days of your life--you will spend the spare moments of your day tearing through an adventure. The speed with which Howey moves the narrative reminds me of those choose-your-own-adventure books from when I was a kid, except in this case Howey is at the helm--leading us on an incredible story about resilience and bravery amidst overwhelming odds.

Oh yeah. I should probably give you a teaser as to what this book is actually about: A master planet sets out to colonize the universe. If one of its ships lands on a planet that is deemed inhabitable, the entire colony is killed off before they can be hatched from their fully grown cryogenically(ish) frozen state. Until the kill sequence is interrupted and a group survives...
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on August 19, 2015
I loved the Wool books and was looking forward to Half Way Home. The idea is really great and unique, but as others have said, this book spends a lot of time with characters tramping around in the wilderness doing--not much. And I also kept wondering, how are they going to find two other people who could have gone ANYWHERE? Plus if those characters are hiding out from the authorities, why would they carve an arrow into a tree trunk announcing where they had gone? The action climax engaged me, and I liked the way Howey worked out a solution to the problems. But during the clean up, one character asks something similar to, "What are we going to do about the bad guys?" If we're going to invest a lot of energy in hating someone who is tramping around like a little Hitler, we'd like to know what happened to him. I read the ending twice to make sure I hadn't missed it. At first, I was wondered why Howey had made the protagonist gay and felt it was a real side issue until near the end when it made sense as part of the plot.
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on January 5, 2014
Like a few others, I started with Hugh Howey's "Wool" series, loved it, and decided to try some of his other work. "Half Way Home" does not disappoint. It is a hard science fiction tale of interstellar colonization with an interesting premise and plot twists. I read this book in just a couple of days because I found it to be a page turner and I could not put it down. That's my kind of book--escapist, fun, leaves you with some things to think about.

It's a great concept - mankind has found a practical (if slow) way to colonize other solar systems--send the colonists in frozen, embryonic form on slower-than-light ships that may take decades or centuries to reach their targets, with an AI computer to make all the decisions--is the planet viable? Should we activate the colonists to start growing into babies? The colonists are kept in Matrix-type tubes for many years, receiving virtual educations in the various fields needed for a colony--agriculture, psychology, engineering, etc.

Hugh takes this initial premise, presented in the first few paragraphs, and runs with it. Of course, this is a story about a colony gone wrong. The story moves quickly and there's plenty of action. As in "Wool", Hugh spares the reader nothing; there is some violence, and characters you are getting to know may not make it to the last page.

The story presents the reader with questions about morality, about ethics, about sexuality. Blind obedience to authority is an issue as well. Corporate/national ruthlessness and greed figure into things. Hugh packs a lot into this little novel.

This is actually my only complaint about the story -- it seems a bit abbreviated. It moves fast, and I didn't always "get" what was happening based on the brief description. At a few points I just took a hail Mary and kept on reading, confident that ultimately I would understand what happened. Perhaps I'm just a bit dense and others found it perfectly clear, but for me it detracted a bit from the total immersion into this world when I couldn't visualize what he was describing. Thus, four stars instead of five.

That's a rather minor point, however. Overall, I knew what was happening and the story flowed nicely from beginning to end. As some others have said, the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more, but I would say they were pretty well fleshed out for the amount of time the story takes place and the age of the colonists (hint - they didn't fully mature).

I recommend this novel and am looking forward to reading more of Mr. Howey's very creative and original writings.
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on June 12, 2014
This is a great novella by Hugh Howey that explores our roles in society in a very interesting and thoughtful way. Without revealing much I can tell you that it is about a sect of colonists, whom are designed specifically to explore the viability of a planet. If it is found to be viable, then they become a colony and prepare and harvest the resources on that planet. If it is not, then they are aborted.

The colonists are grown to adult hood before they are purged- their place in the colony (electrician, psychologist, teacher) is selected and it is that skill set that they are taught. When they are 'born', they will perform their pre-selected role. This colony was set for 'abortion' , but instead of being erased, they are born prematurely. This sets in place a course of unusual occurences that the AI and the colonists were never prepared for, so their reasoning is what determines their actions. You will then see how their roles are affected, how their own emotions are affected by the other colonists, how they reason what they've been taught to feel vs. how they really feel. It's quite an interesting look at the complexity of emotion, responsibility, viability and survival. If you enjoy science fiction, I think you will be pleased.
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As a huge fan of Hugh Howey's "Wool" series, I decided to look up all of his work and see if his stellar writing expanded to all his ideas. It sure seems that it has. This book has a definite flavor of classic science fiction in the grand style, with the grown up and formerly taboo themes incorporated gracefully into it. The flow is smooth and he doesn't waste words. Readers will defnitely enjoy that as it keeps the story and characters very fresh and up front.

The story is based on a very realistic concept for future human space travel. It turns out (reality inserted here) that outfitting ships for long distance and long duration space travel just isn't feasible. The direction of new technology and ideas is based on building the people once you arrive at your destination. That way you can change them to match your new environment rather than the reverse. It is, as creepy as it sounds, the likely mode of any human exploration of other star systems in our future.

Half Way Home is a truly excellent and perceptive take on just how that might work out for those who get to do the exploring.

WARNING: Slight Spoilage necessary for the review.

Porter, our main character, wakes up in a fiery hell of a burning building/space ship. Instead of waking as a fully trained 30 year old psychologist along with 499 appropriately grown and trained persons, he is just 15 and only half trained. While most of the 500 die in the blazes, he is of sufficiently "low importance" to have his vat near the entrance. So he and a few dozen others not designed for important leadership make it to the relative safety of the planet surface.

What follows is part Lord of the Flies, part Star Trek (Mirror Universe, I'd say), part Logan's Run and part of everything else we consider good in future fiction. Their survival and the cold nature of the machine that builds them and then decides their fate is a page turner and a half.

On a deeper level it really speaks to the nature of decisions when those decisions are made at such a high level that the people affected aren't even specks on the ground worthy of notice. It's certainly a cautionary tale.

I would say the audience for this story needs a certain level of maturity since there is a great deal of violence, some of it quite graphic. There's also abortion (really retro-active abortion up to and including adults since they aren't "Human" yet) and the chilling nature of a government so far away that there is no accountability.

This story will stay with me a while. It's a fantastic one that is bound...if more readers get to see this book...to be a classic.
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