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Half Way Home

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Less than sixty kids awaken on a distant planet. The colony ship they arrived on is aflame. The rest of their contingent is dead. They've only received half their training, and they are being asked to conquer an entire planet. Before they can, however, they must first survive each other. In this gritty tale of youths struggling to survive, Hugh Howey fuses the best of young adult fantasy with the piercing social commentary of speculative fiction. The result is a book that begs to be read in a single sitting. An adventurous romp that will leave readers exhausted and begging for more.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2010

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About the author

Hugh Howey

132 books54.3k followers
I'm the author of WOOL, a top 5 science fiction book on Amazon. I also wrote the Molly Fyde saga, a tale of a teenager from the 25th century who is repeatedly told that girls can't do certain things -- and then does them anyway.

A theme in my books is the celebration of overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process. Most of them are classified as science fiction, since they often take place in the future, but if you love great stories and memorable characters, you'll dig what you find here. I promise.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,067 reviews
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews760 followers
August 20, 2018
Ships are sent out to colonize planets containing 500 blastocyst that eventually become humans who are trained and educated before reaching the designated planet. The AI in charge of the ship, Colony, decides when reaching the planet whether at any point the mission needs to be aborted and whether to get rid of the potential humans in the ship it contains. Usually the AI makes the decision easily on whether or not the mission is to be continued but this time something unusual happens and the AI goes back and forth on it's decision leading to the ship crashing onto the planet and many of the people on board being killed. The remaining people must now try to survive on this new planet and figure out where to go with this unprecedented situation.

The concept of the story was really interesting and I did enjoy some parts of the book but I just couldn't buy into some of the things in it. Like . Also are you telling me this is so far into the future and the dynamics of current day prejudice are still around. And as the book progressed I got a prolife vibe from the idea that it was unethically for the AI to abort the cells that could be humans. I think it be more understandable if they were trying to challenge the hierarchy imposed on them with the less important people like psychologists or teachers being further back in the plane and the fact that they never get to choose their profession it was thrust on them and the whole genetically selected to be best at that certain position seems really bogus also. Anyway interesting premise but I had a hard time suspending disbelief.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
811 reviews1,274 followers
August 15, 2019
I have a personal policy to not re-read books. 1) I might not like/love it as much as I did the first time around and will be disappointed, and 2) My TBR list is about 3.5 miles long with books I have yet to read for the first time. This book is an exception for the very simple reason that I didn't look at the title before requesting an ARC. I saw Hugh Howey's name, publication date October 1, 2019 and there I was:

Hyped Excited GIF - Hyped Excited Partying GIFs

I immediately requested the book for review and only then did I check the title and description.

Frustrated ICant Even GIF - Frustrated ICantEven Defeated GIFs

This is not a new book!!!!

What the hell!? How can you do this to someone? Say there's a new Hugh Howey book coming out and it's just a reprint??? Cruel beyond belief!

As there was no way to cancel the request, I figured I'd break my policy and re-read the book. I hadn't written a review when I first read it and didn't remember it sufficiently to write one now. Thankfully it wasn't a total lost cause; I ended up benefiting from re-reading this.

The first time I did, it was just a month after finishing the Wool trilogy (which, if you haven't read them, they're maybe the best dystopia/post apocalyptic books ever written). Having been immersed in those silos, and happily so, I couldn't wait to get my hands on another Hugh Howey book. I picked up this one and was disappointed. I knew it was simply because it wasn't a Wool book, that had I read it another time, I probably would have enjoyed it much more.

That is what happened.

With the same imaginative world building as in the Wool trilogy, Hugh Howey takes us not below the earth, but above it this time. Far, far above it. Far beyond it.

Set on a distant planet, a group of colonizers waken from the vats in which they've been grown. They were sent to this planet from earth as mere fertilised eggs. If the planet proved to be viable and rich with useful resources, the eggs would be grown for 30 years, information and memories programmed into their brains to help them in whatever profession they'd been chosen for. Unfortunately for them, they were awaked 15 years early. The mission's AI, Colony, after determining the mission and the eggs should be aborted, decides to halt the abortion part way through.

Now, with only a fraction of the humans who were sent to colonize this planet, and with only part of their education programmed into their brains, the teens must race against time to figure out why Colony decided to abort them and how they can survive on this unknown planet.

Half Way Home is full of action and adventure, intrigue and suspense. Unlike the Wool trilogy, this book is YA, which is always hit or miss with me (mostly miss as I tend to avoid them except in certain cases). I would have liked the book more (5 stars instead of 4) had it been an adult book. Even so, it was still a gripping and exciting read. Fans of YA science fiction will love this book.
Profile Image for Garet Wirth.
Author 2 books58 followers
September 14, 2012
Well, this was a pure delight! For the first 20 pages. And then it turned into... not a delight. Allow me to explain.

Half Way Home starts out with a great premise. Humanity is colonizing other planets by sending out "seed ships" that, once they land, activate the development of their stored embryos. As these human beings grow in vats aboard the spaceship, the computer AI trains them in their pre-selected profession. Then at age 30, they are "hatched" as fully-formed, fully-educated adults who build a colony. Cool stuff, especially since Half Way Home is a story about one such colony ship that partially aborts it's human population at year 15, resulting in a bunch of half educated 15-year olds trying to survive on this mysterious planet. Again, cool stuff.

And then... I don't know what happened. I think Mr. Howey, who also struggled to keep his rythm going in "Wool" towards the end, had this fantastic idea but didn't have the greatest story to go with the cool idea. Towards the end, the paper-thin characters are riding giant caterpillers and... stuff. It was pretty stupid. It was also just the worst. I was struggling to read more than 1 page at a time at the end there, which was in stark contrast to how quickly I devoured the first few pages.

Anyway, some people might like this type of story, but it's obvious that Mr. Howey didn't have his story mapped out before he started writing. He just made it up as he went, which can work great, but didn't work great here.
Profile Image for Sarah.
689 reviews163 followers
October 31, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,505 reviews178 followers
December 4, 2019
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.
October 8, 2014
I should start by saying that I wasn't aware this was a young adult novel when I started reading it. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have read it. I love Hugh Howey but I have been disappointed by so many YA novels lately that I tend to stay away from them.

Half Way Home wasn't such a bad read. The premise of the book is interesting and I enjoyed the first few pages a lot. But it went downhill from there... What made it really difficult for me to enjoy this book was the narrative style. Too dry, lacking of emotion, it just didn't feel right. It didn't feel like it was a 15-year-old telling the story, it actually felt more like a machine. The characters themselves are non-existent and unsympathetic, I couldn't have cared less what happened to them.

I think what I disliked most about this book is its constant moralizing tone. That really spoilt it for me.
Profile Image for Laura.
226 reviews14 followers
November 21, 2021
4 Stars

Hugh Howey wrote one of my favorite scifi trilogies of ALL TIME (Wool, Shift, Dust), so naturally when I saw this on the shelf at the library I snatched it up like nobody’s business. While it doesn’t surpass the amazingness that is the Wool trilogy, this certainly brought me right back to the fast-paced and riveting writing I grew to love from this author. Coming in at a tidy 228 pages (not sure if this counts as a novella or not, but I’m going with it) this little book is packed with action. I did find the conclusion to be a little of a letdown, but overall I would still recommend this captivating read, especially to those who know and love Howey’s writing already!
Profile Image for Christopher.
96 reviews38 followers
December 5, 2014
I cry easily … I’ll revise that. I have the urge to cry easily and often shed a tear or two. I’m not a sobber but I’m a very sensitive person. That said, I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry. It might have happened some time in my teenage years but I can’t think of an instance. For some reason, as much as I get into my reading, it doesn’t trigger the same response in me as a movie or hearing terrible things in the news.

Half Way Home made me cry. In a good way.

Porter is a boy who was conceived on earth and born hundreds of years later … on another planet … at the age of fifteen.

Earth Has sent out tens of thousands of colonial space ships consisting of an AI that runs things and 500 carefully chosen human embryos. The ship arrives on a distant planet a few hundred years later and begins its work in determining whether the place is “viable” or not. If it is viable then the humans are grown but kept inside vats and taught their careers through a virtual reality world. In thirty years when their education is complete they are woken up in order to form a colony and work the planet’s mines, sending anything valuable back to Earth.

If the planet is not viable the AI can abort everything at any time by burning and then nuking itself (to make sure no patentable information can be stolen). On this planet the AI is in the middle of self destruct when it seemingly changes its mind and the result is about 50 naked fifteen year olds running from the burning vats and rushing around into the rain and mud of their new home.

One thing you’ll notice when you look at this book on Amazon is that there are no bad reviews and no ratings below 4 stars. Most of them are five star and the reviews are enthusiastic. I am just as enthusiastic about this book.

Half Way Home replaces The Four Fingers of Death as my latest and greatest and most favorite. I want to urge everyone to buy it along with Howey’s excellent series Wool. His works are extremely cheap as ebooks.
Profile Image for Cass.
488 reviews120 followers
August 26, 2012

In the first episode of Stargate, Samantha Carter entered the room and attention was drawn to her being a woman. She was doubted and she was defensive. Her gender dominated the room.
Ten years later after the series ended the producers reworked and rereleased that episode. They cut those bits and let us focus on the sci-fi.

This novella is a bit like that. The storyline is really interesting but it is dominated, in my mind, by the homosexual nature of the main character. It is handled badly. He is painted as a stereotypically weak man. Agreeing with the girls, hanging with the girls, becoming over-emotional when a beast is killed, leaving the breaking of a window to the more manly man -- they would enjoy showing off a cut to the girls. He is a strong character except anywhere in which the author thinks his homosexuality would affect him, and then he becomes weak.

I am confused. At the end the author pays homage to all his gay friends. Kudos to the author for writing s homosexual main character. However, much like Sam Carter telling a boardroom full of men that she played with GI Joes, it was clumsy and overshadowed the storyline.

Profile Image for oliviasbooks.
778 reviews519 followers
August 28, 2012
„I was a blastocyst, once. A mere jumble of cells clinging to one another. A fertilized egg. Of course, we were all in just such a state at some point in our lives, but I excelled at it in a way you didn't. I spent more time in that condition than I have as a person. Hundreds of years more, in fact.“

Thus begins Hugh Howey's short and sadly overlooked stand-alone young adult novel Half Way Home. If you are looking for something different among the dystopia rubble: Here you are. What is Half Way Home? It is a harsh thriller about survival. It is a study of human behavior in a freshly built, unstructured, small community. It deals with handing over the life-and-death-decisions to artificial intelligence, it serves us frienship, alien planets inhabited by huge, furry worms, a clever mystery and ... a road-trip into the unknown. What Half Way Home is not: A romance, an endless saga with multiple prequels and sequels or a piece of emotional origami.

Although intelligent machines could easily do the long trips to far away planets on their own, harvest minerals and other promising materials to take back home to Earth, mankind has chosen to spread its genes across the Universe for the sole conceited benefit of knowning that its offspring will own the future.

During the past centuries a huge number of spaceships has reached random destinations. At about half of them a detailed geological analysis done by specialized machinery suggested that the planet in question did not offer the ideal components for starting a new civilization. The complete shipments were destructed in order to save human technology from attempts at patent piracy. If the analythical reports were favorable, the onboard artificial intelligence called "Colony" - or "Al" - triggered a chemical process that started the 500 eggs to grow in their translucent tubes, to learn their specific future roles in society by virtual one-to-one sessions with said "Colony". In the 30 years the physical and mental construction of a planet's first generation took machines felled trees, tilled soil, mined and refined metal and built additional machinery with it.

When 15-years-old Porter wakes up naked and gooey in his bursting tube next to 58 other lucky colonists, who also survived the fire that suddenly started in the midst of the circularly set-up bio-vats, his half-way finished education as the colony's psychologist makes him suspicious concerning the supposedly accidental catastrophe. His unease grows when "Colony Al" instructs the survivors to concentrate on building a rocket in order to send crucial information back to Earth instead of working out solutions for temporary housing and clothing ("Colony" unconcernedly suggested tarpoline), for locating the much needed provision containers, which had been set down next to a far away area meant for mining, and for installing some kind of order. What is so important that after hundreds of years a rocket has suddenly to be sent off within two weeks? Could it be that the fire had been intended to kill them all? Could it be that "Colony" ruthlessly decided to abort the colonization process after fifteen years of successful preparation? And what can be so essentially wrong with the planet to give up the chance of populating it?

When "Colony" keeps refusing answers, food grows scarce and fanatically power-hungry splinter groups show no qualms using mortal weapons to keep their fellow colonists in check, Porter, farmer Kelvin and teacher Tarsi see no other way out than to join a handful of deserters on their way to the mining site beyond the still unpassable jungle. An exciting, dangerous journey peppered with group conflicts, hierarchy issues, hunger, want, loss, determination and character growth begins.

I liked ...
- the road-trip plot
- the Space-Odyssey-2001-like colony computer "Al" (Sounds a bit like HAL, doesn't it?) and the conflict between trusting that inanimate "thing" that brought you up and relying on yourself, your instincts, your humanity, your ability to think and decide independently
- the plot device of interrupted education: Although Porter's instructions and training modules seem to have happened randomly, his specialized syllabus had been scheduled chronologically, which means the psychological theories he has already covered include only those around the late twentieth century and earlier. Porter is aware of the fact that a large chunk of his supposed learning is missing, but he knows he has to make do with what he had been taught and that his limitations influence his world view. What he knows and what he lacks reflects on his way of solving problems, on his way of dissecting the situation his colony is in. And he realizes that his work group member Oliver, a future philosopher, has it worse than him: He is stuck in a rather primitive, religious phase, which makes him praise every misfortune and every bad turn of events as a manifestation of God's will, which he does not allow to be questioned. Some of the farmers know intricate details about the weather, but not about the actual process of producing crops. And because of the hierarchical arrangement of the bio-vats the fire destroyed the highest ranking future citizens first. Therefore there are no doctors on the planet, only nurses, no electrical engineers, only electricians and so forth, which adds to the general panic and cluelessness of the small teenaged population.
- the mystery and its solution.
- the dosage of action.
- the unique landscape and its dangers.
- the fitting cover.

What I was struggling with was (same as when I was reading Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue, which also recommend in spite of my luke-warm-seeming three stars) ...
- the narrator's kind of detached voice. It feels somehow distinctly male (I even thought so, when Molly was telling me her interstellar, extra-unique story) and does not invite the reader to invest much emotion. I think that is the reason why the outrageous things happing on both the Parsona's journey through space and the Colony kids' jouney through the forest did not have a lasting impact on my mind. If I looked at the literature I devour with a less personal and more professional stance, I probably would be able to find the correct wording to emphasise what I mean. I hope you got a vague idea in spite of my inability to elaborate.

Considering the low price of the e-version I recommend the book to those who appreciate non-romantic science fiction aimed at young adults without hesitation. Do have a try! I think you even can read a free except online.
Profile Image for Susan May.
Author 233 books619 followers
August 7, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. It feels like an old-fashioned scifi story. I loved Wool series, but didn't love Sand and this one certainly proves to me what a great writer Hugh is. I wish it was double the size, which is the sign of a good book. It's a Lord of The Flies on an alien planet.
Profile Image for Kaora.
585 reviews282 followers
August 1, 2014
This book felt a little bit like a futuristic Lord of the Flies to start.

Fifty-nine kids awaken on a planet 15 years sooner than they should have with more than half of their numbers gone. Each has a special skill that has been programmed into them including Engineer, Psychologist, Electrician, Farmer, etc. The survivors start to rebuild with help from The Colony, an artificial intelligence program. But when the leadership is changed and becomes more like a work camp, some of the kids break off to explore the planet.

I love the world building in this book, despite it being a very short read. So why only three stars?

I felt that many of the characters were quite immature. They are 15 year old kids, however they were programmed to be workers. The people that would colonize the planet. Yet they don't really seem to take that very seriously.

I also didn't connect with any of the characters. Characters are really important to me and as a result I just couldn't enjoy the world built as fully as I should have.

Too bad.
Profile Image for The Behrg.
Author 14 books147 followers
September 29, 2015
This one took me a lot longer to get through than it should have. It just never hooked me like I was hoping, nor was there ever any sense that things wouldn't work out. I loved the concept, a very Orson Scott Card-esque novel, complete with children characters that think much more adult-like than they should for their age. There's really not a lot bad here, just little that was great. It felt "undercooked" for me. Great ideas and concepts that were never given the time to fully evolve.

That being said, in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Hugh Howey states that this novel was written during NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month), a month in which people attempt to complete an entire book of fiction in 30 days or less. It explained a lot of the reasoning behind my feelings for the book, but truthfully this is quite an accomplishment to be able to pull off a book like this in such a short amount of time. Too bad more wasn't given to something that could have been much greater.
Profile Image for Rebecca Carter.
154 reviews93 followers
November 4, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Anthony Vicino.
Author 13 books46 followers
January 17, 2016
15 year old narrator who sounds like he's 40? Check.
Oversimplification of sexuality through the use of "gay gene"? Check.
All knowing AI launching into the quintessential bad-guy monologue? Check.
Oh yeah, how about the all knowing AI who sounds like a bitter middle-aged shoe salesman? Check.
Female character present only so that the threat of raping her can be used against the main character? Check.
Galaxy spanning civilization inexplicably concerned with the mining of gold...or any other metal? Check.
An entire planet occupied by literally only 2 types of creatures? Check.
Colonists live first fifteen years inside a digital classroom, experiencing time as a nonlinear construct, but somehow come out of hibernation only "halfway" through their training? Check.
Teenagers with the educational equivalent of freshmen in high school somehow build a rocket? (No seriously. This actually happens) Check.
Teenagers with the educational equivalent of freshmen in high school somehow build guns made from gold????? Really? Uh... okay, check.

I really wanted to like this story. There were some intriguing concepts that were ultimately handled so poorly that the suspension of disbelief just went straight out the window.
Profile Image for Jeff Koeppen.
562 reviews37 followers
April 9, 2020
I saw this reissue at B & N on my last visit before the pandemic and decided to roll with it. I'm a big fan of the author. I have the Wool trilogy in my top-twenty and also enjoyed Sand, Beacon 23, and his collection of short fiction Machine Learning. I was familiar with the plot based on the summary on the back cover but did not put two plus two together and realize that this was a full fledged YA novel. And I've grown to loathe YA. (My wife Lisa is a middle-school science teacher and often reads books her students are reading, so there is always YA in the house, and we've read several novels together, so I've had more than my share. Now I'm done).

The premise of the novel is five hundred colonists are sent to an alien planet as blastocysts, and once they arrive they are grown and educated in vats by AI for thirty years while a portion of the planet is prepared for their release from the vats. While in the vats each of the five hundred is taught a specific vocation, so you have a fully-operational society ready to to go in thirty years. Well something goes amiss, and after fifteen years there is an accident and the colonists are woken after only half of their development is completed and only sixty of these teenagers survive the process. The book is not long and the plot moves along very quickly. Positives.

There is some neat world building and interesting science fiction in these pages but my enjoyment was tempered by the teenage drama. It as just way to much for me. I don't want to be fifteen again, or read about how bad it is. The story is told from the point of view of Porter, who was "training" in the vat to be a psychologist before being awakened. He tries to solve the mystery of what happened to the colony prior to accident in year fifteen and figure out why the AI is behaving illogically since the accident. The ending had a nice twist, I thought.

This book would be an excellent introduction to Hugh Howey for teenagers. If they take to it, they would probably also like his dystopian Wool and Sand books.
Profile Image for E.L. Hine.
Author 3 books9 followers
November 20, 2012
Unlike some of the other reviews posted here, I thought that the novel was original and intriguing. Howey gets extra points for bizarre aliens - I have always enjoyed stories with bizarre aliens in them: never forget the Puppeteers from Larry Niven's Known Space universe, for example. Here, I think Howey took a few chances: first of all, the subtle but definite portrayal of Porter, who comes to realize, in fits and starts, that unlike the other surviving boys in the colony, he is not attracted to girls, but is attracted to boys. I thought this was quite well done, but not overdone; and the thematic purpose behind Porter as the "one who is alone" points out an important theme about his unique role in the colony, and why he ultimately becomes its de facto leader.

Good aliens, weird world, and an original plot make this story a winner. Another reviewer mentioned a political implication of the term "Abort" with respect to the AI-controlled disposition of the colony - I don't believe there is any 21st century abortion message embedded here; "abort" is a very common term used universally in computer science for ending a program or a project, and is the appropriate term in this book as well. Cheers, Hugh, I've bought a few more of your books as well!
Profile Image for Renee Babcock.
380 reviews9 followers
March 30, 2019
I started reading Howey's 600 page book Wool around 6pm on a Sunday evening. Around 3am, I realized I needed to put the book down because I had to go to work in a few hours and should get a little sleep. I was immediately drawn into that book, its premise, the execution was so good, the intensity kept me turning the pages and I needed to know what was going to happen next. It's not often I find a book that holds me like that.

This is not that book. I liked the premise of it and I thought it had some good potential. But the execution of it was just not what I had hoped it would be. I forgot at times that all the characters were supposed to be half educated 15 year old kids because the adult voice of the writer intruded. But at the same time the book felt way too much like Lord of the Flies in outer space and that also turned me off. I also was not happy with the traditional gender roles and the reticence about the main character's homosexuality. Presumably this takes place well in the future when such strictures aren't actually that big of a deal.

So while there was some really good potential here, at the end of the day it just didn't deliver for me. And holding it up next to Wool, which is exceptional, it felt a little like a let down.
Profile Image for Robbie.
336 reviews11 followers
May 13, 2016
4.5 stars. I loved everything about this book; I love everything Hugh Howey writes, to be honest, and it's no surprise that he has managed to totally captivate and entertain me once again through his fantastic world-building skills and incredible writing talent.

I read this book on my Kindle and, I can definitely say that, this is the first book I've read in e-book form that I've properly enjoyed and actually really want to read again. Usually reading digital books affects my enjoyment of the story but, heck, if anyone can write a book that is fantastic in any form, it's Hugh Howey.

This is a stunning little sci-fi, survival story that, let's not kid ourselves, Howey needs to write a sequel for.
Profile Image for Brian.
53 reviews11 followers
September 7, 2015
Self published and obviously so. An editor, even a mediocre editor might have improved this throw away, best by recommending it be shelved and revisited from a learned perspective of years and maturity whereupon the author may have decided not to dilute his excellent works such as The Dust Omnibus or Sand with this derivative mess. Not all walks in the woods result in a worthwhile story and if this one was by any stretch worthwhile it deserved more than a one month writing. It is insultingly a short story expanded to novel size by large print and liberal use of white space. It is thankfully a very fast read.
Profile Image for Paul.
563 reviews150 followers
April 19, 2015
Maybe closer to a 3.5 .
It was ok. Plot was ok. Characters where ok. Idea was reasonably good.
It just wasnt up to the high standard of the Silo series or Sand books.
The intensity Howey manages in his later books is just never quite reached here. Still interesting to see the develoment of the writer. Like the later Silo books its about survival in a marginal but heavily controlled social structure and what happens in its break down.
Wool launched Howey , don't expect the same level of brilliance here.
Still worth a read to see Howey moving toward his later style and quality.
January 17, 2020
A colony somewhere out in space starts by growing its population from human embryos. They are grown in vats, but something goes wrong and the people are born too soon, as teenagers, half prepared for the lives they were to lead on a planet that is not what it is supposed to be.

Not up to Howey's usual standards. There were discrepancies, unanswered questions,etc. And why were these vat grown, AI trained young people born knowing how to swear like sailors?
Profile Image for Wade Lake.
Author 1 book21 followers
September 28, 2015
Fun. Sure, a lot of reviewers have given this book a hard time, but ... hey, it was a quick, fun read. And that's all I was in the mood for so ... worked for me. Fun.
Profile Image for Yuyine.
862 reviews48 followers
April 8, 2022
Une colonie ne sera pas un roman qui me marquera très longtemps. L’intrigue bancale et les dialogues assez creux, associés à une narration qui ne m’a pas emportée, ont contribué à mon avis mitigé. Cependant, le roman n’est absolument pas dénué d’intérêt et propose quelques idées intéressantes et des réflexions plutôt justes sur le comportement humain et la question de la liberté et du vivre ensemble. D’autres que moi ont plus apprécié cette lecture, à vous donc de vous faire votre propre avis !

Critique complète sur yuyine.be!
Profile Image for TraceyL.
990 reviews134 followers
February 25, 2020
I love Hugh Howey but this book was nowhere near as good as his other works.

The premise is fine. AI spaceships travel through space looking for new planets to colonize. They are filled with what are basically test tube babies, who are raised to adulthood with computers streaming information into their brains, so they will be fully trained scientists by the time they land. If the AI decides that the planet it was sent to is uninhabitable, it destroys itself and all of the passengers. In this case, the AI screws up and releases the passengers when they are still teenagers, who don't know where they are or how to survive.

There are so many problems with this book that overshadow anything good about it. There's a weird discussion about a homosexuality gene that was specifically put into the main character, for reasons I didn't understand. I'm assuming it was an attempt by Howey to add more diversity to his characters, but it was confusing to me, and felt kind of icky. He also uses the word "abort" often enough outside of its usual context, so I think he was trying to make a point about abortion as well, but I don't know what that point would be.

This really just wasn't for me. I will definitely read more Howey in the future because I've really enjoyed some of his other books, but I will read through their reviews first.
Profile Image for One Man Book Club.
887 reviews43 followers
September 14, 2016

So, they can't all be winners, right? This Hugh Howey book does not earn my recommendation.

I still enjoyed the story--mostly from the point of view that I'm impressed with the author's ability to tell a tale so unique. I've never heard of another story like this one, not even the premise or ideas.

Unique story or not, this one didn't for for me for two reasons:

1) The language was foul. Total foul. I stuck with it because I had hoped it would get better and I had such a good experience with his other books. It didn't--it actually got worse. Not like Stephen Kings The Body bad, but bad enough for me to not be able to recommend it to anyone.

2) I hate being preached to, and this book slowly climbed up onto it's soapbox, a little at a time. By the time I realized what was happening, the preaching fully threaded into the story line.

A credit to the author--even when I realized that was going on I still wanted to finish the story. But still, when I tell my friends about Hugh Howey, I'll be telling them to skip Half Way Home.
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