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.
When I was in high school I couldn't seem to get enough of manga and Japanese anime. I inhaled it. When I caught a glimpse of the cover of Hiromi Goto's YA novel, Half World, I immediately thought back to these days of flipping through the pages of countless comic books. Despite the sense of anime and manga created by the cover, I was nevertheless surprised by the cinematic feel of the text itself. Reading Half World was like watching a film by Miyazaki. In fact, the plot was somewhat similar to Spirited Away, as both stories are about a little girl trying to save her parents from the evil of a strange world. Needless to say, Goto's use of imagery and fantasy elements really fits in with the style of Japanese animation. Perhaps Miyazaki will make Half World into an anime itself one day, which would be positively amazing!
Despite the fact that I adored the cinematic and anime feel of Half World, I wasn't completely blown away by the story. Perhaps hearing that it had made the list of YASLA's 2011 best fiction for teens really made my expectations higher than they should have been. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the story. The plot was clever and fast paced, but the characters felt a little bit flat at times and didn't get as in-depth as they could have. Perhaps adding a little more back story to Melanie and her family, however, would have made Half World feel less cinematic.
When it came to choosing a rating for this book I really struggled. While the part of me that loved the anime style of the writing wanted to give Half World 4 stars, the reader part of myself wanted to rate it at 3 stars. As a result I decided to simply give the book a rating of 3.5 in order to keep it in the middle of these conflicting numbers. Ultimately, I think anyone who reads this book will enjoy it, but I believe that those who love anime and manga will appreciate the story more. A companion book to Half World, called Darkest Light, is being released in January, and I will definitely be checking it out in order to find out what happens Melanie and Baby G next.
Rating 3.5 Stars