Paperback, 380 pages
Published March 3rd 2014 by Penguin
★★☆☆☆– 2.5 stars
“Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.
You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
by Sally Green is the begging of a new trilogy. The Half Life
trilogy follows a boy called Nathan who, at the age of fourteen, was locked away in a caged as a result of being a mix between a ‘black witch’ and a ‘white witch’. The story opens with a flash back to when Nathan was younger. It is then written in an uncommon style for the next roughly 15 pages; it puts the reader in the speakers (Nathan’s) shoe’s by saying “you have been…” and “you are…”. The story is about Nathan trying to liberate himself of the label associated with being ‘Half Bad’. This is made especially hard by the ‘Hunters’ who are watching Nathan’s every move. One wrong foot, and everyone that he loves will become Hunted
I have really torn and mixed feelings about this book. For the most part it was okay, but overall, it just wasn’t a satisfying read. I was surprised to see that it is set in 21st century England and not a “ye old” time like what it initially comes across. A lot of facts like this seem very ‘wishy-washy’ and aren’t explored in great detail. An example of this is Annalise and Nathan’s relationship; it felt too ‘insta-love’ and not authentic enough as I feel that neither characters are particularly three dimensional.
This book is written from Nathan’s point of view and is written mostly in first person. I did enjoy reading from a male’s POV but because of the majority of books I like to read a written from a female’s POV, I struggled to get used to it and truly understand Nathan. In fact, I struggled to connect to any of the characters apart from Arran (Nathan’s brother). The connection between the characters were not grounded very well and because of this I felt even more detached from them. The setting too, I felt, was skipped over too much. Almost like the writer just presumed that the reader would just understand where and where the book was taking place. I also found it difficult imagining how this book is going to proceed as it left too many questions unanswered and I felt that even answered questions still had flaws that could easily be spotted.
The start of the book, once I had got into it, was very good. I was enjoying the morals I could pull from the themes in the book. In my opinion, I saw the ‘White witches’ and ‘Black witches’ as connotations of race and the prejudice shown towards Nathan also related .to the prejudice and racism shown to people from diverse cultures in the past. This to me was an important message, that I thought would’ve been shown throughout the book. but, unfortunately, towards the end, was like the beginning of a quest and the racism motif was dropped.
Overall, I enjoyed minimal aspects of this book but tended to get more annoyed and sick of the book the further it went on. I think that the world building was not done sufficiently and was a major let down as I was expecting more fantasy elements in the novel. Again, detail was lacking in this book majorly and too much time was spent on pointless things. For example, the love interest; I believe that I would have enjoyed the book just as much, if not more, without the romance. This is because, I think that the relationship between the two characters isn’t correctly founded or explored enough. I also tended to forget a lot of what I had already read of the book simply because I felt the plot wasn’t enticing or gripping enough. I think it had the opportunity to make a great impact on readers, dealing with the prejudice shown to Nathan in the book. I probably will not be continuing with the series, as it was Half Bad.
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* This book was sent to me by a publisher in return for an honest review.