Half Way Home is about a colony that was raised in (vats?) until about the age of 15, enduring some kind of telepathic training, and then aborted by the colony’s AI. At the last minute, mid-abort sequence, the colony AI decides there is something worth saving on the planet and halts the process. There are only about 60 survivors out of 500.
Now the colonists are being told to construct a rocket for… something. No one knows what. Unfortunately, the colony AI isn’t telling anyone why, just keeps pushing the colonists harder and harder to finish the project. We follow Porter and his two friends, Kelvin and Tarsi, as they decide to make a break from the colony and survive on their own. Unfortunately there’s something waiting for them out there beyond the gates of the colony.
I wasn’t really expecting this to have any horror type storyline, but towards the end it definitely veered that way. You begin getting glimpses of that type of plot early on, and I loved every second of it. I wouldn’t say it was too scary, but I loved the creep factor of the colonists venturing into the unknown, exploring things that were new and fun and scary all at once.
The plot moves at a pretty quick pace. This is less than 300 pages long, and the colonists are basically newborns, so there weren’t any complicated character/world history back stories to set up. We’re dropped in right at the moment they start existing outside of their “vats” (sorry I really can’t remember what they were called in the book) and that allowed us to just always keep moving forward, building the history as it went.
The characters themselves were wonderful, even if they didn’t have lots of past baggage to build them out. Their relationships were complex. There is a love triangle of sorts, but it was a love triangle that actually worked in this instance and didn’t grow too tiresome.
It wasn’t a full five Star read for me, just because I think there were a couple things that felt off. At some point the colony AI has the kids making guns out of gold. Supposedly these guns actually work. Gold is too soft to make guns out of. They would be highly likely to explode, and any mention of golden guns took me out of the story. The second critique is that the planet felt a little sparse. Having read Black Leopard, Red Wolf earlier in the year, with its amazing world building, I just thought more could have been done? I realize being that it’s a short book there wasn’t a whole lot of extra room for planet and landscape building, but I just would have liked to have seen more than giant trees, fuzzy worms and bomb fruit.
All in all, it was a fun adventure and I’m doubly excited to check out Howey’s Wool having read this. Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC to review.