Monday, September 30, 2019

Half Way Home

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey
HMH Books: 10/1/19
eBook review copy; 240 pages
ISBN-13: 9780358211587

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey is a recommended YA science fiction novel. This is a reprint of an earlier published novel.

In order to colonize distant worlds, the purposed colonists are sent out as blastocysts, or fertilized eggs. If the AI determines that the new world is viable and worthwhile to colonize, the future colonists are allowed to start developing in vats. They are trained and educated in the vats and then released or born at age 30. If the world is not deemed viable for the colony, then the mission is aborted and the colonists and the ship is destroyed. When a fire erupts and the colonists are released from their vats prematurely at age 15, they are directed to exit the ship. Only 61 of the sent 500 colonists survive, and these survivors are half taught. Now they need to try and survive as well as complete the ship that the AI, the Colony, is insistent must be sent.

The survivors break into groups/cliques that seem to be based on their job training and some innate inborn genetic issues about control and dominance. Porter is the narrator and he was being trained to be the ships psychologist. Now he is half trained and beginning to realize that he is not attracted to girls, like the other boys. He also realizes, along with others, that the fire was the AI starting the abort sequence but then inexplicably stops it. Why start and stop the abort sequence? And what about the world started this?

First, I actually enjoyed this novel quite a bit and was able to set aside my many logistics questions, misgivings, and doubts. It is imminently readable and the plot is engaging. On the other hand there are several negatives that I overlooked while reading, but couldn't ignore. It's akin to any great idea that is not completely thought out. So, in the end, the narrative is a great concept, but wasn't fully envisioned and realized here. There are some great moments and it is a fast and easy read, so if you can easily set disbelief aside you might enjoy it. This is an airplane book. It will hold your attention, but if you should set it aside or lose it, it ultimately won't matter.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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