3 stars. Half Way Home by Hugh Howey is the tale of a colony ship gone wrong. The ship contains 500 human embryos in cryogenic storage for transport. Once the planet is termed habitable, the embryos started developing, being trained for specific roles in the colony through life-sustaining vats until they are “born” as adults. If the planet isn’t viable, the AI on the ship makes the decision to abort the colony, self-destructing the ship and all its embryos.
In Half Way Home, things have gone wrong. The AI began the development process, then decided to abort the colony. Fifty-nine kids emerge from their vats, at an unprepared 15 years old. Not only must the children survive, but they’d like to figure out what went wrong. To top it off, there is no certainty what the AI’s ultimate goal is: survival or ending the colony.
The plot is a tense, believable survival thriller driven by the characteristics of the half-trained teens. Through the dry, first-person narration of Porter, the psychologist, unease and tension is very apparent, and disunity in the colony makes for a very readable story.
Unfortunately, Half Way Home loses focus on the story in favor of moral themes. Where there could have been a thought-provoking theme about when life begins, the heavy-handed focus on abortion was a definite soapbox that is brought up again and again. Similarly, homosexuality is mentioned over and over, not to advance the story or character development, but simply for its own sake.
All in all, an interesting read that could have been significantly better.