Half World by Hiromi Goto

Inter-library loan copy of Half World by Hiromo Goto.

Inter-library loan copy of Half World by Hiromo Goto.

Some of the best books I’ve read lately have been recommended by people I’ve never met.  This one, for example, came from a member of a Facebook group for the Books & Brews podcast.  It’s a book that I never would have found on my own and probably would have passed up had I seen it.  It was also a simple post-here’s a book I like and has anyone else read it? Sometimes those low-key testimonials are the best endorsements for a book.  I tend to shy away from books that become too popular too fast. I haven’t read Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.  They must be good-everyone else has read them.  Which is why I probably won’t. Make sense? I know it doesn’t.  It’s just how I am.

In Half World, we follow young Melanie on a life changing journey through the realms.  Melanie is always on the outside, lonely, unpopular, and living with her unstable mother.  Living on the edge of poverty and without any family, Melanie is barely hanging on to her mother who is spending more and more of her time drinking.  While trying to avoid the mean girls at school, Melanie finds herself at home in an empty apartment. Her mother, who barely leaves the apartment is now missing.  

Following a string of mysterious clues, Melanie learns of the three realms:  the Realm of Flesh, the Realm of Spirit, and Half World. With the help of a kind neighbor and her magical gifts, Melanie makes her way to Half World to find her mother.  Once there, Melanie finds a world of unlikely human-animal hybrids, impossible buildings, and nightmares come to life; a world ruled by the evil Mr. Glueskin. Melanie must believe in herself in order to find the strength to rescue her mother from the evil ruler and free all of those who are stuck in his vicious cycle of half living.

I’m not usually one for coming of age stories.  They tend to be overly sweet and angsty. This one really hit the right balance for me.  Melanie is fourteen. She’s overweight, unpopular, and not the best at school. Yet, she is still able to find her way to another realm, defeat every obstacle that comes her way-barely, and save the world.  It’s the barely part that I appreciate. She nearly gives up over and over again.

In to YA Fantasy?  Try this one out. It doesn’t disappoint.