Half Way Home

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

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?
I actually DNF this one. I started it and really liked it but quickly found myself rolling my eyes at the premise and the characters. If I pick it up again and finish it I will amend my review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy of this book. I love Hugh Howey as an author and the way he is able to draw you into his worlds.
In this book spaceships are sent out to colonize other planets. The novel opens with a crash landing of one such ship and the kids aboard are awakened 15 years before they are supposed to. I had a hard time really feeling invested in any of the characters, unlike I did in his Wool book series. It was still an intriguing story that carried me along, and a quick read. I will always check out whatever new books he writes.
Was this review helpful?
Half Way Home 
by Hugh Howey (Goodreads Author)  
M 50x66
Lou Jacobs's review Aug 03, 2019  ·  edit
really liked it

A starship is on route to colonize a distant planet. On board are 500 blastocytes, each in it's own pod allowing for their progressive differentiation into well trained and educated colonists ... all under the charge of the ship's AI ... termed "Colony" However, they are prematurely awoken at age 15 while their ship has apparently crashed and is engulfed in flames. Less that 50 of the teens survive the fire ... and are presented with the challenge to survive and prosper without a full education. Somewhat disconcerting is the AI's insistence on diverting their efforts to building a rocket to be sent back to Earth with "vital info" rather than encouraging plans to provide immediate housing, clothing and food gathering. Splinter groups immediately form along with the development of guns to enforce compliance to ensure the rocket is built quickly. Naturally desertion groups form to obviate the enslavement .... leading to the exploration and survival in this somewhat bizarre world.
Howie proves to be a master storyteller and unwinds a twisted and compelling narrative detailing the struggles amongst the surviving teenagers for dominance ,survival and purpose. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. The fans of the "Wool" series will not be disappointed in this tale.. which may prove to be a stepping off point with further adventures to follow.
Was this review helpful?
I have been a fan of Hugh Howey since I read the Silo series.  This book had a lot of his unique quirks: dusty, tunnels/shafts/overwhelming sense of claustrophobia.  This one did feel a bit of Lord of the Flies to me.  Although I liked the ways they all woke and began their assumed duties, it still feel like it lacked depth into why they were chosen for said positions.  I like his suspenseful writing, and it is a page-turner in that I wanted to keep finding out what happens next.
Was this review helpful?
I could not put down this book. It was so interesting and the writing was great. I will definitely be recommending this to customers at my work!
Was this review helpful?
An excellently well written story about a group of young people struggling to survive on an alien planet. I enjoyed watching Porter as he developed in to the best kind of leader despite his internal doubts and fears. And I loved the idea of giant worms who eat metal and bore tunnels through mountain sides. (there frequently seem to be giant worms in space - Dune has a lot to answer for!) Hugh Howey is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC to read and review. I enjoyed this story, even though it took a bit to get into. I've read and liked many High Howey books over the years, but this one is definitely not for the younger crowd.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with the ARC. I saw this perhaps was published a while ago and now is being republished or sent out again? Perhaps there were corrections made or something happened to send it out again I'm not sure. I will have to read the older one to truly compare the two but I thought this was a good story and I definitely enjoyed myself! I have the Wool series waiting on my shelves to read soon so if course I will read more from this author in the future!
Was this review helpful?
It took awhile for me to get really immersed into this story but I stuck with it and am not disappointed. I appreciated the perspective from the narrative standpoint. I'll be keeping a eye on this author.
Was this review helpful?
I mostly enjoyed this novel, in which colonists raised in tanks are awoken early by the AI that governs their lives. Of 500, only 58 survive, and, only half-trained in their various areas of specialization--psychology, farming, geology, mining--they make a go of living on the planet they're supposed to colonize. But politics and alliances and the development of power groups appears immediately, and it's only by leaving the colony at great peril do some of the colonists discover the truth about the planet, the AI, and how they will need to function to live. There's a lot of action and thinking (and some scenes that feel a bit like they were written for a film treatment) that works, but there's also quite a bit of gender essentialism, and none of the characters really feel developed or even individual. There's room for improvement, and since this seems like the beginning of a series, I hope those improvements come about in future installments.
Was this review helpful?