March 14, 2014

Title: Half Bad

Trilogy: Half Life, Book One

Author: Sally Green ♦ @Sa11eGreen

March 4, 2014

Publisher: Viking Juvenile / Penguin

Pages: 416

Genre(s): Young Adult ♦ Fantasy

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

Average Goodreads Rating (as 0f 03/13/2014): 3.94

  • Christina thought this title was very unique. It goes on her 3rd shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

♦ Initial Thoughts and Rating:
3 stars, maybe 3.5!
Magic, good versus evil, corrupted ideals, family, first loves, and destiny are all key aspects of this novel. While I have great love for the main character, Nathan, I’m a bit conflicted on my overall feelings of the book.

♦ The Lowdown: In a world where witches exist among the Fain (NonWitch), a battle is constantly being waged between the White Witches (“good”) and the Black Witches (“evil”). Half-Codes are witches of mixed parentage, either between the two witches or with a fain parent, but all are greatly frowned upon in the witch community. Our main character and narrator, Nathan, is a Half-Code, mothered by one of the purest White witchlines and fathered by one of the most violent, well-known and few Black witches left in existence. For all of his life, especially after his mother’s death, he is ridiculed, mistreated, and outright assaulted strictly because of his heritage. This book is his journey- the great lengths he had to go through to discover who he was, to obtain his three gifts to become an adult witch, and the harsh conditions he suffered despite his complete innocence. But more than that, it’s a clear view of how the areas between good and evil are never so cut-and-dry, and how even those that are considered “good” are capable of great evil.

♦ My Thoughts: I’m not going to lie, I probably went into this book with super high expectations because of all the hype and praise my fellow reviewers have given this title, and part of me wonders if that is why I didn’t seem to fall in love with it as much as they did. There was a lot to be intrigued with, especially with the way the author chose to let the plot unravel and the mystery behind the Witch Council’s true motives. There was also the more gruesome content that was shocking, but for some reason it really pulled me in. While it was difficult to read about how horrifically Nathan was treated, I kind of feel like I have to give the author major props for selling it so hard and not holding any punches in how graphic she was willing to go. It really made me feel for Nathan and truly, truly loathe all of the Council and any other supposed “good” witch who hurt him. I grew quite fond of Nathan, even in his denser moments, and enjoyed his growth. It was so rewarding for me to see him hold so steadily to his good nature, even when he had every reason in the world to be vile and cruel and hateful.

My biggest issues with the book were with writing style and pacing. The author chose to include alternating chapters of first and second person point-of-views, and while the second person bits were only in the first half of the book, it always pulled me out of the story. It was different- somewhat good and definitely memorable- but I found it distracting. (I would like to note that there was a technical error in my eARC and the transition in-between chapters was a little jumbled. I tried not to let that effect my feelings with the book, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did a little because I’d always been confused for the first portion of every chapter.) However, the biggest reason for my lower rating was because the books seemed to drag. There was a lot going on in this book, with the reader spending years with Nathan, but it never really seemed to go anywhere. I only feel like we started ramping up toward the middle of the book through the end, and all the stuff in the beginning was just one slow build-up. Mostly, though, this installment felt like one huge prologue to where the real story and characters and action are going to awaken in the next books.

♦ Rec It? Yes. While I wasn’t blown away by Half Bad, I feel like it was a great setup for the next book in the trilogy. I also really liked Nathan and most of other characters that he had a affectionate bond with. Everyone else can die a slow and painful death. Like, extremely slow and extremely painful, please and thank you.

♦ A very special thanks to Vikings Juvenile and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.


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