ISBN-13: 9780670012206
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Published: April 2010
221 pgs
Illustrated by: Jillian Tamaki
Source: Personal Library

"Half World is a haunting combination of a coming-of-age novel and a spiritual quest, a mad funhouse of horrors and a tale of redemption and love. Wonderfully odd, and quite unforgettable." — Neil Gaiman

With an eye-catching cover, an intriguing title and not to mention a blurb from Neil Gaiman, how could I possibly ignore this book? It even piqued my husband's curiosity, which I took it as a good sign because he rarely took notice of what I'm reading (well, he's not a reader like the way we all are).

To begin with, Half World introduced the readers to the three worlds of Flesh, Spirit and the Half World whereby it allow living beings to undergo a specific cycle before they could go on to the next one (think of karma and incarnation). Through the prologue, readers get a glimpse of the division of the three realms and how it would affect our heroine, Melanie Tamaki, as her parents were involved and got sucked into a horrible pact a long time ago with a grotesque character who called himself Mr. Glueskin; one who behaved as if he was the ruler of Half World.

Though Melanie lives with her mother, she knew nothing about her father since young as her mother never shared bits of his life with her. Because her mother is weak, she stay bedridden most of the times and thus they lead their lives in poverty. And Melanie isn't too happy in school because she always got bullied. Her only refuge is at the elderly Mrs. Wei's house as she is the only person she could turn to whenever she is in need of advice or assistance.

The night when Melanie received a strange phone call from Mr. Glueskin, she knew she has to save her mother even if it means putting her life at risk. With the help of Mrs. Wei, Melanie began her quest after learning something about the prophecy and a jade rat pendant was given to her for safety.

I will not disclose too much of Melanie's quest and the world of Half World, but let's just say it is both a mysterious and a bizarre world filled with all kinds of grotesque characters. Melanie has to be alert and very careful with her disguise, because any wrong move would send her to Mr. Glueskin's way. In the midst of saving her mother, she also realise that the three realms need to regain their ongoing cycles and she has to do something to restore their worlds together again.

What can I say? I was totally sucked into this fantasy world Hiromi Goto had created, yet I was terrified of Half World because it is both a mysterious and a frightening world. Aside from those grotesque creatures, it is a world bereft of colour. Everything about Half World is gray and gloomy. The characterisations are great too, especially Mr. Glueskin.

And oh, I so loved Jillian Tamaki's illustrations (she's also the illustrator for Skim)! Not only they are beautiful but they also helped me to be able to visualise Hiromi Goto's characters and her world building so much better. I wish this story could be made into an animation because I know I would want to watch it.

(Leave me a comment if you have reviewed this book so that I can add yours onto this post.)

8 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    Sound like it a good and interesting Jap novel of the half world. It always good to read books of something outside the usual reading habit a person are use to reading -- peeps in genre...okay maybe me LOL! Great review!

  2. valentina Says:

    sounds amazing!

  3. Ana S. Says:

    I kind of want to order this right now. The things you do to me, Melody! :P

  4. Iliana Says:

    Oh I loved Skim! This one is definitely going on my list. I think I'd enjoy it. Great review Melody!

  5. Melody Says:

    Julia - It sure is a great read, Julia! I hope you'll read it if you've the chance.

    Valentina - Yeah! :D

    Ana - LOL. The things you do to me too! :P

    Iliana - I need to read Skim since I've heard nothing but raves about that book! Glad you're adding this book onto your list! :)

  6. I can see why this book would pull you in, Melody. It sounds so good! I'll definitely have to look for this one.

  7. Alice Says:

    Ahhhh... I was having the same exact comment as Wendy so I'm not going to repeat it again. LOL!

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