Cover Image: Half Way Home

Half Way Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Hugh Howey is always a must read. This had a present day Lord of the Flies feel to me and I absolutely blew through it. I loved the Silo saga and I dig everything this guy writes. He truly is a talent to be reckoned with. Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
I chose to read the re-release of Half Way Home solely based on the fact that it is written by Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, which I loved.  Science fiction is generally not my genre with the except of dystopia-type books, so Half Way Home is one of the first of its kind for me as a reader.  Unfortunately, this story was not what I expected, although I tried to keep an open mind.  Although I am not a typical reader of the genre, I feel like I could fall in love with the right science fiction story, but Half Way Home was unfortunately not it.  

I felt lost for much of this tale about teenagers born into a space colony that was deemed unsuitable for life, and tasked with not only trying to survive the elements but also survive each other.  Surprisingly, there was a significant lack of world-building in this novel, which is something that Howey excelled at with Wool.  Relying more on telling than showing, Howey packs Half Way Home with action, not giving readers enough time to absorb, much less understand, this foreign world he is trying to create. 

This book also suffers from too large of a cast, with characters being introduced without any significant defining characteristics, making them just another person readers have to struggle to remember, much less care about.  The interactions between characters are shallow, and readers never really get to know them, which is disappointing in a book about survival.  When characters are killed off and you feel nothing, it is often because the writer did not do enough to make you care.  

Read Half Way Home if science fiction is a genre you enjoy and action-packed novels that focus more on the plot instead of the characters is your cup of tea.
Was this review helpful?
If you have just finished the Wool series and are reading this book with the expectation that it is more of the same, you will be disappointed. However, if you come in with an open mind, you will find that this book contains an engaging story line.  I found myself invested in the characters and their plight, often wondering what circumstances brought about the sequence of events. The world that has been created by Howey sparks your imagination, and the plot provides enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have the others that he has written, and I look forward to more from Hugh Howey. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to review this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. 

I am so sorry to say I couldn't get into this book.  I tried so hard because I really enjoyed WOOL but this book just fell flat to me.
Was this review helpful?
I think you always have to be a bit of a Trekkie if you are going to appreciate a good sci fi novel. This one for me a Trekkie is great, totally new concept/idea for space colonisation. My only fault is like a lot of sci fi some things get left behind and are not updated e.g. mechanical engines, high tech seems to bypass them. Nonetheless I really enjoyed the story of how 15 year olds start an off world colony, give it a try.
Was this review helpful?
Half Way Home is the first stand-alone novel by American author, Hugh Howey. While it nourishes, nurtures and teaches its five hundred charges from blastocyst to adult maturity, the Colony ship’s Artificial Intelligence is constantly assessing the conditions on the planet for viability of the settlement. It may, at any time, abort. And on the planet where trainee psychologist Porter’s ship has landed, it does so, but then abandons the abort. 

Less than sixty survive the abort. They are fifteen years old when they are woken from their nutrition vats. In the fifteen years that the ship has been on the planet, some progress has been made with mining and other chores, but food crops, clothing and shelter are not yet available. The survivors exist on fruit that falls (often dangerously) from the canopy, two thousand feet above them, wear makeshift clothing, and shelter inside work vehicles.

While some survivors make educated guesses about the justification for the abort, the reason that the AI then abandoned it is puzzling, and why, when the priority ought to be food, clothing and shelter, the AI insists they build a rocket is a mystery. As expected from a diverse group there are dissenters and when the highest-ranking survivor, a boy who believes the colony can survive, dies, not all believe it to be an accident, especially when an aggressive security officer takes over the lead.

Howey gives the reader an intriguing piece of speculative fiction. There are definitely shades of Lord of the Flies, although perhaps the greater threat comes from other quarters. At least it’s not the B ship of H2G2 fame, although with ninety percent of the personnel gone, the balance of occupations may not be as intended, nor conducive to success. And of course, those remaining are all only half way through their training. Cleverly plotted and nicely resolved.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. The premise of raising colonists from embryos with the necessary knowledge and training to be successful after a very long interstellar voyage is a good one. Of course there are problems at the outset specifically early birth on a planet they are not prepared for. Will the young colonists be successful? Very reminiscent of “Lord of the Flies”
Was this review helpful?
Half Way Home was originally published in 2010 but was recently re-released. I’ve consistently enjoyed a lot of Hugh Howie’s books so I was excited to pick up this one, which was no exception. Quite an original concept, Half Way Home explores the potential future of space colonization. Colonists are sent to planets and raised sleeping in vats as an AI sets up the start of the colony. After 30 years, the colonists awaken fully-grown, trained, and ready to take over. In Half Way Home something has gone wrong, and the colonists are awakened early. They must figure out how to make it without their full training program and without all of the resources they were supposed to have.

While it had a lot of potential, this really just missed the mark for me. There were a lot of interesting bits — in particular, the flora and fauna unique to this new planet — but there wasn’t enough to impress me. It felt like there was just something… missing, and I felt a bit let down by the ending. Part of this can probably be chalked up to a lack of proper world-building. Howey definitely has skill when it comes to building a sci-fi world (Wool speaks to that), but there was a lot here that felt like it should have been expanded upon. I just never felt fully convinced by the environment he had created here. It felt so limited; we’re only really introduced to a couple of new species with the implication being that they are the only ones.

Besides that, I felt really uncomfortable about the characterization of the main character. He’s gay, and the “hints” towards it are quite heavy-handed. He’s also often likened to a woman and is made fun of by the other characters for being a “sissy.” This isn’t at all challenged or addressed, and doesn’t do much except play into existing stereotypes. There’s also a love triangle that doesn’t really get resolved; the drama with it feels forced and even the main character admits that it’s ridiculous to think so much about dating when lives are on the line.

For all my criticisms, this is a pretty enjoyable read. I ended up getting sucked in whenever I’d pick it up, and had no problem jumping back into the story. The pacing is good and I was always intrigued to see what would happen next — even if it didn’t seem like much would. Overall, this is a decent sci-fi novel, but nothing I’ll be scrambling to recommend.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed the Wool series and was looking forward to this novel a lot, however, I just could not get into it!  I look forward to reading the next novel by Hugh but the pacing and plot just didn't pull me in.  It's an okay sci-fi so if you're looking for something easy to read then this would not be a bad choice.
Was this review helpful?
Half Way Home isn't a novella--I don't have the word count, but it's structured and plotted like a full-length novel, albeit very much on the shorter end of that scale--but it definitely feels like one. In scope, in character development, etc., this stands as a complete story, but could easily be appended as "Part 1" of a longer cycle, though Goodreads tells me that isn't the case. (Also, that this is being re-published, so unless there are plans to continue on later, this is definitely a stand-alone.) 

The plot is relatively straightforward: to get around the distance issue, humanity has begun 'seeding' worlds with blastocysts instead of fully-grown colonists. An AI raises and teaches the humans (decanting them as full-grown adults), builds the colony for them, and . . . well, and it's programmed to incinerate everyone and everything if the chosen planet turns out not to be as hospitable to life as originally thought. Which happens--sort of--at the beginning of our story; a group of 15-year-olds end up decanted early while the rest of their proto-colony burns, for reasons the AI refuses to discuss. That mystery---where they are, what's gone wrong, etc.---drive the story to its conclusion.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot. It's a fun little story, engagingly written. (A certain famously cheesy scifi series was clearly the inspiration here, and if you finish this without knowing exactly which one I'm talking about, then there's really no hope for you.) Will this enter the scifi canon as one of the greats? Definitely not. But if you're looking for an afternoon's entertainment, this is the perfect story to curl up with.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I want to preface this by saying that I absolutely adore Howey’s WOOL series. I am reading the last book in the series with a friend at the time of this review. We are so excited to see where he takes things, yet at the same time it is bittersweet because it is just that good. It was like coming home as soon as I opened the cover.

This book did not have the same connection with me. You might say I was halfway home (I couldn’t help myself). The premise is absolutely fascinating and while science fiction can often be a hit or miss with me, I banked on my love of Howey’s other books to make it work.  And it did somewhat.

The writing style is very similar – the original publication of this book pre-dates the first WOOL book – I can definitely see how the author’s writing has evolved. Perhaps some changes have been made in this newest re-release, but I’m not sure. It reads like an earlier piece.

There were also times I found myself lost in certain scenes. A good lost. A “I need to turn these pages faster and oops I burned my dinner while reading” kind of lost. No exaggeration on that last point; I have been known for ruining food because I’m sucked into the world on the page. It just happened last week with another book.

But I digress.  As for what didn’t work for me – it’s hard to say exactly.  The plot moved along but I wasn’t particularly engaged with any of the characters. There is a diverse cast of characters, but so many felt two dimensional, and so I wasn’t really invested in what happened to them. There are some creepy creatures and weird landscapes which were cool but again they just weren’t lush; it fell a bit flat.

Can Hugh Howey write? Oh yeah. But not every book is going to work for every reader. There will be readers who will definitely enjoy this book. Me? I already have his novels Sand and iZombie to read at some point. I will open them with relish and with every expectation that I will enjoy my time in those pages.
Was this review helpful?
In my mind I will always go back to Wool as being the book that brought me back to my science fiction roots. I had gotten away from science fiction and fantasy for a time as I pursued my career and basically got my act together… but everyone was talking about this book… taking place in an underground Silo. And I’ll never forget the atmosphere Howey was able to create in just a few pages. Running up and down those stairs from level to level. From that series of novellas I read a couple of his other works and when I saw Half Way Home on NetGalley, I immediately requested it. I learned later that it is a book he had already published. But that didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment.

Half Way Home is the story of a colony of fifteen-year-olds on a planet far away from earth. So far away that instead of sending human colonists on generations-long journeys across space, Earth now sends blastocysts, frozen cells that can be bought to life by an automated process. An advanced AI is sent along with the “colonists” to determine if the planet is viable or not. Earth scientists have gotten so good at predicting that it comes down to an almost 50/50 chance that the planet will have everything that is needed for habitation: soil to grow food, no dangerous predators or weather systems, and resources available to send back to the home planet. The AI has thirty years to determine whether the world passes muster before aborting the process and killing off the cells that have been growing in the vats…

The novel opens with a fire that wipes out roughly 80% of the colonists… they awaken only halfway through their development. They only have half the knowledge in their particular area of focus, be it farming, mechanics, or even psychology.  Now the ones that survive must figure out a leadership hierarchy and a way to survive. Questions abound: Why did the AI abort the process only to stop the termination at the last minute? What is it about this planet that makes it beneficial to Earth’s needs? And how will they survive with only 60 members of a 500 member force?

The action focuses on a band of friends within the colony… and most closely on Porter, who is the one psychologist among the crew. This is an important position as these young people are both experiencing life for the first time and thrown into a challenging situation to colonize this planet. He has an interesting persecutive as the psychological point man in the colony and finds himself quickly dealing with the mental aspects of survival, grief, unknown exploration, and most importantly, group dynamics. 

I liked the premise a lot. What a great jumping off point in scientific exploration. I’ve read many stories about the “colony” ship blasting through space for a hundred-year journey, but this twist is something that I have never thought about. Howey takes this and promptly adds the tension that elevates the danger.  I did at a couple points comment to myself: Whoa! That really escalated quickly!

This is a very fast read that takes a simple survival tale to a race against time to save the planet from rogue elements. Porter has to use all his training to help himself and his fellow colonists through the sabotage of the master plan. I won’t go into the plot too much because the basic premise goes off the rails about 20 pages in.

Read this for fun speculation on a seemingly safe planet.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, John Joseph Adams, and the author for an advanced copy for review.
Was this review helpful?
I was hoping for more--but ultimately, I was also hoping for something new, and it turns out I didn't do my due diligence on my Hugh Howey research. I should have noticed going in that this was a republication and not a new book altogether! Mad respect to Howey both for his skill as an author and the thought he puts into his work, but I have enjoyed his development as an author over the decade since this book was first published in 2010 far too much to want to go back in time. Ever always onward, right?

Part of the issue here is that we've seen such a flowering and proliferation in the number of books about teenagers in space, and I doubt 2019 Howey would write the same way about them as 2010 Howey did. I think, post-Parkland and post-Greta Thunberg, the image of tooth-and-nail infighting among teens in crisis isn't one that resonates anymore; speaking as a jaded and threadbare thirty-something, I think teens are going to be the saving of us all. They know how to unite. I don't know ... the ending of HALF WAY HOME kind of gets there, but I wasn't quite sold on the middle. I appreciate that Howey gave teens the opportunity to act like the complicated people-in-the-making that they are, at a time when young adult literature was still in its infancy. I think this book is more directly descended from works like ENDER'S GAME than THE HUNGER GAMES, but I could be mistaken about that. I'd love to hear from others on this!
Was this review helpful?
This book is kind of a mash up between Whispering Pines, Lord of the Flies and the Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark”. It is a lost colony backdrop that was supposed to be destroyed but the teen colonists survived. I found it to be derivative but a quick, engaging read. I felt that the sex positive message was somewhat heavy handed.  I liked it well enough yet it lacked the sophistication of Howey’s other novels. It’s not “Wool” in creativity or suspense.
Was this review helpful?
Sadly so didn’t enjoy this as much as Howey’s other books. Interesting concept as always though. I’m still looking forward to the next book by Hugh Howey!
Was this review helpful?
Half Way Home is the story about our world trying to reach out and claim planets for their resources and the price someone is willing to pay to make money. When fifteen year old Porter is awakened 15 years earlier than he should have he realizes that their being saved was a decision the AI made after it discovered something on the planet that at first was deemed nonviable. With only a fraction of the 500 member crew surviving it's up to him and his group of companions to decide if fate will destroy them all of if they have the strength to create their own future on this planet. 
I thought that this was a great story, it was a quick read, the characters were well developed and the story line unique. The book was originally published in 2010 so I am guessing there won't be a follow up though the story did end with what could be a great series. It was a good story on it's own as well. A good choice for readers of Andy Weir.
Was this review helpful?
The final book I have to tell you about is Half Way Home by Hugh Howey. Set in the future where ships are sent out to colonise new planets with 500 vat grown humans on board. On the way to their eventual new home they are educated and trained in a specialism as they sleep. Midway through their development cycle the AI controlling their ship decides to start the abort sequence and only 60 teenagers manage to escape. Alone, scared and without all the skills they need to survive they have to rely on each other and the AI that almost killed them to survive. It's not long before they realise it's not just the inhospitable planet that they have landed on that is the biggest threat to their survival.

I loved Howey's Wool series so, in my opinion, it was going to be hard to follow those books. I didn't realise that when I requested Half Way Home from the publisher on NetGalley that it was originally released in 2010. It's a good book but it's not a great book and I found it quite predictable in parts. It is, however, quite short so a quick read if you are looking for some half decent science fiction.
Was this review helpful?
I am a huge Hugh Howey fan, the Wool trilogy resonates with me today years late. I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as his others. I did realize it was a YA Fiction book soon after starting, and that might have something to do with the lack of depth I felt. Many of the characters seemed a little shallow, and the plot could have been more developed as well. The overall concept of survival on the surface of a harsh new world was good, with the Colony controlling things from a far with their own agenda. It just felt a little stale, and "been there, done that."  A decent read, and quick as well.
Was this review helpful?
“Half Way Home” feels like a novel half way written. The concept is original, yet the characters and the plot line are riddles with holes and gaps so large that it strains the already weak threads of the plot.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the premise of this book, and the idea of the protagonists being teenagers, but it came off a little bit cliche. All the drama and big questions about what to do with their situation felt staged and predictable and I was wanting something a little deeper and edgier. Middle school or teen readers may thouroughly enjoy this book since it's geared toward that age group. Nicely tied up at the end, and leaves the reader with a hopeful conclusion. It felt like a book version of the tv show The 100.
Was this review helpful?