Luca is a thing that should not exist. Half human and half fey, Luca has been a man stuck between two worlds for longer than he can remember. And now his own body is betraying him. After years of searching for a cure to the sickness that threatens his life, Luca has come home, to die or to live, however it may happen. But his father asks him to see yet one more healer, a yakoai who may have answer when all the others before him did not. Kin is nothing like Luca imagines, and while he has no obvious cure, he offers Luca something deeper…his love.
As Kin and Luca explore their tentative connection to one another, the reality of Luca’s health continues to be a harsh barrier between them. When Kin offers up a possible solution, Luca is forced to make a brutal decision: take the cure and lose himself, or accept his illness and loose Kin.
Half was an often-poignant look at the nature of life and the reality of death. It brings with it a measure of hopeful acceptance, but there are no easy decisions here and the angst runs thick. Kin and Luca are both compelling characters and while they don’t seem quite as fully developed as they could have been, they are still suitably complex enough to be satisfying. Much of Half is about the importance of self determinism and the ability to make a choice, even a difficult one, for ourselves and not for others. It was a question that Half handled very well and leaves its readers with food for thought, especially in light of today’s issues concerning the rights to assisted suicide and the decision to walk away from medical treatments. None of these are particularly happy things to consider, but Half does a good job of asking the basic question – do we have the right to choose the direction of our own life or are we bound by the constraints of family and lovers? There are no simple answers of course, but Half doesn’t run from the hard stuff.
The biggest problem with Half is the pacing. The book is plodding right from the start and what little action occurs is often overwhelmed by extraneous dialogue and lengthy wanderings on the nature of life and death. Now these wandering serve a purpose and as a whole are well done, but they don’t let the book develop a natural flow and tend to slow down what should have been a decently paced storyline. Additionally, the romance between is Kin and Luca is essentially insta-love. They measure quite nicely as an existential couple, but there is no development to their relationship. They are not a couple one moment and in the next they are. While this doesn’t detract from the overall message, it doesn’t give their devotion to one another nearly as much meaning as it could have.
Half does an excellent job of tackling some tough subjects and doing so with a sweetness that never seems cloying or excessive. And while there are no traditional happy endings here, I would say there is some light and joy. The pacing is problematic and the relationship between Kin and Luca isn’t always believable, but Half is still a worthwhile read.