Monday, January 9, 2012

Diversity Club: Half World

Half World

The second book for Rachel Manija's permanent floating YA diversity book club was Half World by Hiromi Goto, which I got from the library on my NOOK.  Unfortunately this made it hard to share with my in-house YA, since he's not keen on electronic books and anyway I was hoarding my NOOK in a frantic effort to read books from all 50 States and from each continent and with authors and titles filling in every spot in the alphabet.  December is a crazy month for the Silly Reading Challenge addict.

Anyway, once the new year started I was free to read what I wanted, so I called up Goto's story and started reading.  For some reason I thought the main character was male, and I was pleasantly surprised to find Melanie the one called to save the world.  The mythos seemed very Roman Catholic -- people live in the world of flesh, and when they die they more to Half World where they process their worst experiences (sounds like purgatory) and then they ascend to Spirit World.  The pope probably wouldn't approve of the spirits eventually getting reincarnated back to Flesh world, though.  But something severed the worlds, and Melanie is the only one who can fix things.

She's a reluctant savior, bullied and neglected, and she only goes in to save her mother, who has been fading for years and finally dragged back to Half World.  Melanie has a few gifts to aid her: a magic 8-ball and a jade rat figurine that comes to life when needed.  The creatures in the dream-like Half World are straight out of the Narnian Island of dreams -- nightmarish and terrifying.  And the destruction of Glueman struck echos of Meg Wallace defeating IT with her love, although Melanie has the harder task of avoiding anger at the evil guy and eventually even finding compassion for him.

The ending was satisfactorily messy -- Melanie doesn't get her parents back, and she does end up with a lot of extra burdens, but she did save the worlds.  So she can go on, even if it wasn't fair.  This ending probably would have annoyed my YA, and his insomnia is bad enough without some of the images in this book, so I'm not too sorry he missed this installment, but I enjoyed it.  The writing impressed me, and I saw enough of the illustrations to realize that my NOOK was not the best platform to read this on.


Kristen Schwartz said...

This sounds like an interesting story and I'm looking forward to seeing the illustrations. I'm a big fan of middle grade/YA interior illustrations of this sort. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your view on this very much.

Tara said...

This one sounds like a great read, but intense. My sixth graders might need to wait a bit to be ready for this, I think.