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on 26 September 2013
This is a short book. I managed to finish it in a single sitting around the pool on holiday, with only a break for lunch. It's one of those books that keeps you turning the pages until you get to the end. It's a bit like watching a film inside your head. This isn't a sprawling plot with complicated twists and turns. It's very linear, but filled with lots of imagination and enough intrigue to keep you engaged.

The plot is similar to other stories that have come before it ("Lord of the Flies" springs to mind), but the author has put enough of his own stamp to make it unique and worthwhile. I found myself invested in the central characters and their plight and wanting to know more about the mysterious circumstances that triggered the events. However, some of the tricks-of-the-trade were a little obvious at times. There is a cliffhanger at the end of most chapters, for example, and it some of the plot progression was there to give me a guided tour of the world that the author has created.

I would argue that this is a solid book, well worth a recommendation. If you've just finished the Wool series, and are coming to this book expecting more of the same, then you may be disappointed. This is a different book with a equally different, but engaging, style of writing. Another home run from Mr Howey.
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on 6 January 2017
Hugh Howey is a master storyteller, well imo. Everything he seems to write turns to gold and Halfway Home is no exception. The only thing I was surprised about was that it was a YA book. I've been disappointed with the majority of YA I've read recently, so had I known this book was YA, and although I love Hugh Howey's writing, I may not have bothered reading it. So I'm glad I didn't realise this until after I picked this one up. The only slight negative I have is the last fifth of the book, it felt a bit rushed and some events didn't seem plausible. Other than that this is a typical Howey sci-fi/dystopian, and definitely among the best of a saturated dystopian genre.

A shorter book than some of his others, Halfway Home is set in the future when humankind have discovered interstellar travel, and are spreading out throughout the universe colonising plants deemed hospitable. Instead of sending grown humans hurtling through space for centuries, with all the necessary supplies and stocks to sustain generations of humans on each ship on its long journey towards its new planet, human cells are sent in an in vitro state. Only when the planet has been readied for humans to begin their new life are the cells fertilised and humans grown. Under normal circumstances, the soon to be 500 colonisers are grown in large cylinder contraptions with womb like similarities for 30 years, and given an education and knowledge via virtual reality stimulations and training programs. However, something goes disastrously wrong, and they are woken up before their training is complete 15 years too early, with the few survivors finding themselves faced with a bewildering new world.

I often enjoy books that make you think about things and that open your mind to possibilities. Halfway Home achieved that - this is way out there, but just maybe, many generations ago, we were sent to the planet Earth to conquer it. Maybe there was a first generation who settled here, to discover and pillage its natural resources and unlock its secrets, until we exhaust the planet. Possibly for some ancient nation on a similar but distant rock. Once Earths resources are dried up, what will become of the inhabitants of Earth? Will we be left to our own devices, to maybe one day discover interstellar travel and start conquering new planets ourselves? Or something darker? It's a crazy thought but maybe this has been kept as a huge secret among a few, for thousands of years...We ourselves could be alien civilisations sent to earth to colonise it, by some ancient human race light years ahead of us.

Alternative theories aside, Howeys idea for this book is more than likely where humanity is eventually heading. One day millions of years from now, the sun will die, along with earth and us, if we were just willing to accept that fact. However humankind won't just simply sit by and wait for this cataclysmic event to occur, we will attempt to spread out and discover other habitable planets, and possible new homes, well before the sun burns itself out. Whether it will be our first time colonising other planets, or something humankind has done previously and is a hidden secret, is something most of us will never know.
That's what makes Howey a fantastic author, he awakens the readers imaginations and makes us ponder, which is what the best writers do. I always tell people to read the Wool series, and I'll continue recommending that trilogy to people as their first taste of Hugh Howey's works as I still think it's the best introduction to his writing.
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on 20 September 2014
This is a decent enough read but more a sketch of a novel than a full-blown one. Nothing wrong with that, many slender novels can pack a punch but unfortunately this one doesn't and falls well short of the bar Howey has set for himself with Wool in particular.

The characters are paper thin and a bit contrived for example- it's almost a grade school roll call of political correctness, introducing a confused, gay main protagonist, vegetarians etc which is great and holds a lot of potential in a contemporary SF novel, but they come across more as cardboard cut-outs than real people. To be fair, I think this book is perhaps more aimed at the Young Adult market than the more 'mature' SF one, but all the same you can't help felling an opportunity is lost here as a very good premise never really gets off the ground in any substantial way- even the world the pioneers land on comes across as bland and dying on it's feet with boredom.

Having said that it was a pleasant enough, un-taxing read but I think Hugh needs to move up a gear. I'm sure he will and when he does, I'm certain there are plenty of SF classics in him. This one however I feel, will be filed away under 'the formative years.'
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2014
The premise of Half Way Home is fantastic - a colonisation effort gone spectacularly wrong winds up with fifty teenagers trying to colonise a new planet as opposed to five hundred well-trained adults.

Things I loved about it: the narrator (an empathetic young man struggling with his sexuality). he is flawed and confused and makes mistakes and is extremely relatable. I loved the action, too - the first third of the book starts to feel a bit Lord of the Flies, and it was great to move away from that and into exploration /mystery solving mode. I also liked the method used to keep the characters' values current - by cutting off their training halfway through the twentieth century they remain more relatable.

the thing I didn't like was that at times it felt like a pro-life screed. I have no idea if that was the author's intention, but with the emphasis on the term used to cancel a colonisation effort ('abort') and the discussion of potential lives snuffed out, that's the territory is strayed into for me. it is also pretty short and simple, and outside the main characters, characterisation is fairly flat and, in places, outright ridiculous (oliver was particularly odd). there is a note at the end that this book was written for nanowrimo, and I wasn't surprised.

still, those issues aside I *did* like it. if you're a fan of howey I'd definitely give it a shot.
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on 15 April 2018
Love the authors previous books but this was set much more for a teenage audience. The idea was good but the characters were lacking and far too random in personality / career programming. The overall story lacked cohesiveness and died a death at the end ( at which point I’d almost given up). I want more ‘Sand’!!
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on 15 September 2016
Found it pretty tedious, if I'm honest. The premise is interesting but the main character is flat, as is the overall story. It's just 'and then we did this, and then we did this, and then we did this.' If it had been any longer I would have given up on it.
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on 16 May 2013
I bought this after reading his trilogy - well, that's a misnomer (three novellas do not make a novel) - but which nonetheless I truly enjoyed. But this? There is nothing here except for a well-conceived other world. Maybe it was not intended for me but rather for young adolescents. If so the Kindle review(s) did not mention it. Even so I think characterization is almost non-existent and the same can be said for the plot, which I thought was at about the level of a good short story. Very disappointing...
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on 26 October 2013
I enjoyed this book for the most part. An enjoyable look at one way colonisation could occur in the future. The plot cliffhangers at every chapter gave motivation to read further, but also frustrated because you expected them after a few chapters.

Although also short on descriptions, it made up for firing your imagination - what was the colony really like? What did the modules look like? And what about the appearance of the vinnies?

Slight spoiler below:

The only thing that struck me as odd was the inclusion of homosexuality. I am not being anti- or phobic here, but I didn't simply get it. It seemed tacked-on, added as if to justify some form of social commentary, and seemed completely at odds with the behaviour of the character in question. The end notes also thanked several gay friends, and this further caused me confusion... Was this book about homosexuality, or not? I read it as if it were not, as I did not see any mention until almost the very end - and it made no sense to me. Did I miss something here?

That said, it was a gripping adventure, well-paced, with a good narrative structure and well-written from a first-person perspective (usually something I loathe, and the only other first person narrative I've liked is Neal Stephenson's Anathem). The author's details to human contact is prevalent and well-described throughout, and I read it through in a couple of days.

I nice escapist read, but with minor flaws and quirks I was able to skip past for most. It was good enough to consider other works by this author.
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on 30 August 2015
Trite and lacking depth or any real tension. Characters are all two dimensional and women are portrayed as mere weaklings. Could have made a good story as the idea was really interesting but sadly the execution wasn't up to it. Don't bother.
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on 15 May 2017
Thoroughly enjoy, I always think the measure of a book story is the reader's desire to know what happens next when the story ends - and I have found myself thinking about the story many times now I have finished it, wondering just that! I am not entirely convinced by the argument that is the spark of the story but once the characters are confronted by their new world, I found this fascinating and intriguing. A great read.
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