Title: Half World
Type: novel – fiction
Author: Hiromi Goto
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult
Synopsis: 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. (source: goodreads.com)
Three Words: very Spirited Away-esque. I say this because a human, Melanie, travels to Half World to save her mother, similar to Chihiro stumbling upon the spirit world and staying there to save her parents.
The plot has a lot of potential, but for me, it falls flat due to the lack of character development. I honestly like Melanie since she is an unlikely heroine. She is no where near as athletic as Katniss of Hunger Games or as intelligent as Hermione of Harry Potter; Melanie is basically as normal as anyone. Despite her averageness, I think that is what makes the character so special because this plain gal ventured into a terrifying world by herself. Plus, she is of Asian descent! I feel like we don’t often have protagonists who are female AND a person of color, so kudos to the author for being inclusive. I thought Melanie would be this dynamic character who goes on an adventure and grows; unfortunately, her character development is practically nonexistent. She has sporadic moments of bravery and wit, but even when her journey in Half World was over, she didn’t seem to develop as much as I hoped. Because of this, I felt the conclusion was not satisfying. I must emphasize that this is my opinion, and maybe, you might think otherwise.
Anyway, Hiromi Goto does an amazing job worldbuilding. I was immediately engrossed with the book and just love her description of characters and Half World. I also really appreciate that this novel features characters of Asian decent and incorporates Eastern folklore.
If you want to experience a terrifying world, then pick up Half World. It’s a quick read that hopefully won’t disappoint you.