Title: Half World
Author: Hiromi Goto
Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
Published: 2010; Pages: 225
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy (Young Adult)
Half World in Short: Melanie doesn't quite fit into her world but what she never realized was that she wasn't really from her world--instead she was born into the Realm of Flesh from parents of the Half World. When her mother is taken back to Half World, Melanie learns that she is part of a prophesy to fix the chasm between Realm of Flesh, Half World, and Realm of Spirit.
"Half World should not be a trap for all who suffer, but because the Three Realms have been divided we cannot help but fall back, again and again, into a cycle of suffering. It is the same for your Realm [of Flesh] and for the Realm of Spirit. We need the Three Realms reunited for there to be balance and wholeness. Without it we are all trapped creatures, only ever partially ourselves. No one is whole" (139).
Why I Read It: #Diversiverse (see more information below) snuck up on me, and as I was looking for a shorter book to read I remembered that Fizzy Jill read this one last year and enjoyed it. Luckily my library had a copy.
Thoughts in General: After choosing Half World as my Diversiverse read, I began hearing mixed reviews about the story and the book. While some said that this book is an excellent young adult/adult crossover novel, others complained that the writing and the story felt too young. The story did feel young in some places, but I believe that Melanie's desire to fit in with society and her questioning why she doesn't is universal. But more importantly, Melanie truly exhibits growth throughout the novel and her journey is one that can teach readers of all ages about digging deep and finding inner strength. Melanie is tasked with a mission that she doesn't understand or believe that she can accomplish, but she is able to prove herself worthy of the task of reuniting the three Realms.
Bottom Line: Half World is an entirely enjoyable book that pulls the reader on from chapter to chapter. Goto provides just enough suspense in her story to propel the reader along the journey, and Melanie is a character worth cheering on. While there is certainly a youthful feel to the novel (the antagonist's name is Mr. Glueskin), it's certainly a book that can be enjoyed by adults. Half World would make a great Readathon book and a great partner-read between a parent and child. While it won't be my favorite book of the year, I had fun with Melanie's journey and am glad that I read the book.
This post is part of the book blogging event A More Diverse Universe, hosted by Aarti from Book Lust, where about 50 bloggers have committed to reading a speculative fiction novel by a person of color. As author Hiromi Goto explains "I’m looking for more than just a skin colour and small gestures. I want a full-blown world that’s rich, diverse and multi-layered with stories and histories." Please make sure to check out all of the other participants this week.
Curious what your favorite speculative fiction or fantasy book is written by a person of color? I'm always looking for books and authors to stretch my reading horizons.