Monday 2 March 2015

Book Review - Half Bad

Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Series: Half Life #1
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 27th March 2014
Publishers: Penguin
No. Pages: 380
Source: Review Copy - Penguin
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill.

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers — before it's too late.

But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad was, without a doubt, one of the most mixed reviewed debuts books of 2014. It was a new, different, and in some ways, dangerous take on witches, especially creating what could have been deemed as a racist theme throughout, the split of white and black witches, or purity and - not so pure, so it's no surprise that along my journey to reading Half Bad, I received a copy, lost said copy, received a copy, never read said copy in time and then finally, more recently, received, what I'd decided would be my third and final copy, my last opportunity, my one and only shot, and I'm ashamed. I'm infuriated. I'm in complete and utter hatred with myself because Half Bad was such a, fascinating, enthralling and intriguing read, and I really god damn wish I'd read it sooner.

Finding the right words for a book like Half Bad is not exactly easy, but the best place to start is the beginning, with the second person narrative, which, surprisingly, worked like a charm on me. Green's writing and ability to not just have me connected and relating to Nathan from the very start, but to have me being Nathan, sitting in that cage, watching that sunrise, doing those runs, feeling like I was the character in this story, feeling like my life was without freedom, feeling as though I was the criminal, it was really so much better than I had been expecting, especially when you consider that my expectations of this novel were to 'push through the beginning' - I glided through. It was almost impossible to, Green's pacing and her writing, just was of an unbelievable standard, and Nathan's voice throughout was really unique, individual and so so easy to follow, I couldn't help it, I was hook, line and sinker with this novel before I'd even made it to his background and past and this only showcased Green's talents further.

There was never a part of Half Bad that felt too information loaded, there was never a part of Half Bad that felt unnecessary or like a filler for a more interesting chapter, there was never a time while reading that I didn't feel something towards Half Bad, whether it be hatred and rage for other characters within the novel for their actions towards Nathan, whether it be joy and comfort in seeing what little love Nathan had from those he loved was shown and highlighted, or whether it was pride, excitement or utter fear for everyone involved, Half Bad had me feeling such strong emotions towards the entire process, it was hard to distance myself and put this book down.

Everything about Half Bad was something I enjoyed, from the amazing development and ability to document time pacing, but not in a quick and flashy manner, but in a way that made you feel that, for a middle-sized normal, so much happened, so much plot had been explored and developed, so many characters had been introduced, grown, expanded and even died, and through it all, I felt like I really got in deep with this novel - it's premise, it's plot, it's amazing background and world history, it's twisted, cruel and vindictive government, it's lies, it's secrets, it's reveals, it's so many unbelievable questions that were asked throughout, it all was so mind-blowing addictive, I can unbelievable I find it difficult to find fault with. In fact, the only feature that really ever bothered me at all was the feature I found most intriguing, the split community of witches, the internal racism that was involved within their society and how it made me feel. Whether it was Green's intention, I felt so strongly about this feature that it started to bleed into my enjoyment while reading, it affected me on a level I really hadn't expected, to see the cruelty, the judgement, the prejudice, the harshness and the damn right utter torture they put Nathan through, it really was one of the most in depth looks at race in such a unique way that, it's almost impossible to not notice it's effect on Half Bad as a whole.

There's an awful lot I thoroughly enjoyed about Half Bad, from it's switching perspectives of first to second person narrative, it's lack of romance which really gave this book room to develop it's plot and other smaller details, and it's amazingly developed characters, from Nathan to Rose, to Gabriel, oh Gabriel, even to less featured characters, like Marcus himself, and Jessica; they all had an important amount of development and it complimented the really well written plot and premise that was included within the novel. Was I blind-sighted? Yes. Was I gobsmacked by how much I actually came to enjoy Half Bad? Damn right. Is this one of the most intriguing and harsh looks at abuse, cruelty, racism and prejudice that I've ever read? Why yes it is. Would I recommend this amazingly written, really interesting, brilliant take on witches, politics, loyalty and family and everything in between? Let me see.. if you haven't yet read this book and started this series, you are seriously missing out. Does that answer the question?


  1. I AM SO ABSOLUTELY GLAD YOU LIKED THIS BECAUSE I ADORED IT. It's one of the BEST books I've ever read (and kind of reminded me of how I like to write sometimes, heeh) so I'm basically busting out of my braincells for Half Wild. omg. Is it nearly release date yet?! *flails and wails*

    1. I really did love it, I thought it was fabulous and there is nothing that could sway me otherwise! I have Half Wild (don't be too jealous) and I cannot wait, but I'm wary too, I've heard mixed things again!

  2. Half Bad was really interesting in the way it addressed important issues like prejudice, being 'different' and everything. It was strangely unsettling and so intelligent in the way it did it. So glad to hear you enjoyed it Amanda! Great review.

    1. It definitely was, such a great book! Thanks Jeann!

  3. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!! In actual fact I think it'd be in my top three with Paper Towns and Ketchup Clouds - have you read them?

    Little Moon Elephant

    1. I haven't actually.. I'm weighing up Ketchup Clouds, but I haven't heard a lot about it, my library has it though, so it could be worth a look. Thanks Amy!


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