Half World, Hiromi Goto

Christmas preparations have got me very behind,both on reading and blogging. And yet we carry on.

I don’t know what to say about Half World other than, wow. Seriously, wow. Hiromi Goto is a Canadian writer of Japanese descent, so Half World will fulfil all of your YA and canlit needs. It’s exciting, gritty, and creepy to the extreme.

I think my favourite thing about Half World — even more so than the brilliant world-building (Half World is a terrifying, supremely wrong feeling place, and Goto describes it perfectly) — is Goto’s characters. They are masterfully written and oodles of fun, but they’re also incredibly unexpected. The protagonist, Melanie Tamaki, is the most unlikely hero. She’s fat, poor, and a visible minority, which are not the norm in YA lit. On top of that, she’s constantly terrified, prone to panicking and anxiety, and not particularly physical or good at school. She’s not the kind of person you would expect capable of saving her mother from a psychopath made of glue in a world of horrors, let alone righting all of existence in the process.

Melanie’s not the only unexpected character. Melanie’s only friend is Ms Wei, an elderly woman who lives above her little shop. Ms Wei “comes from a long line of archivists and scholars”, only speaks in the third person, and has survived the loss of her lover, Nora Stein, in a burglary. Ms Wei’s lesbian (and presumably interracial) relationship is brought up casually and treated like any lost love might be. It informs much of her character, but there is much more to Ms Wei. She is never forced to identify her sexuality, a welcome departure from typical depictions of queer relationships, especially in YA lit.

In summation… Half World. Wow.


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