Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Series: Half Bad, Book One
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 27 March 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

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 is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.
(summary from Goodreads)

Half Bad is brutally compelling.

This book hooked me from page one. Green shoves us right into Nathan's story, in all its violent, cruel glory, giving us a taste of what we're in for and then goes back in time to fill us in on how Nathan got where he is. It's not pretty. Half Bad exudes anger and hatred and it's hard not to get riled up over it all. The prejudice in this book, well, it pissed me off. Green portrays the reality of prejudice, of the judgement of someone purely because of a circumstance of their birth, in all its unfairness, in a way that readers won't soon forget. Half Bad is a world of magic and witches, of White witches and Black witches, of the idea of good and evil, of a history of bigotry and war, of politics and family, and it is profound. I really loved Green's writing style. Her sentences are punchy and it gives the story this sort of rhythm, short and quick, that adds to its fierce tone. It's kind of weird, there's this feeling that not a lot happens in Half Bad and yet it tells the story of 17 years of Nathan's life. I think that's part of the effect of Green's style of writing. Despite everything that does happen, there's a flow to the narrative that remains steady. It's not quite a rollercoaster but a constant rising of tension. And because of it, I could not put Half Bad down.

Something else kind of funny is how much I adore this book considering characters make the book for me and I hate most characters in Half Bad. I suppose it's that those I hate are secondary and honestly, you are meant to hate them. I love Nathan. He's had the worst life, born Half White and Half Black, the only child of both - his White witch mother died when he was a baby and his Black witch father is a hunted mass murderer. That's a lot to hold against a child, but oh, how characters do. He's survived through so much pain, even torture and he does so with this hope, this dream of a future that is touching and enthralling. He's angry and often reckless, but I reckon he needs to be to keep surviving. The people that show him kindness and love are at the heart of his not giving up. Like his half-brother, Arran - oh, how I just want to hug Arran forever! The closeness between these two is so sweet. On the other hand we have Jessica, Nathan's half-sister, who is an evil bitch and the hatred I have for her knows no bounds. There's plenty more I hate and I could list and rant but I won't - one, because we'd be here a while, and two, because it's something you should simply read and experience for yourself. Two other characters are a huge part of Half Bad - Nathan's love interest, Annalise, and his new friend, Gabriel. I get the feeling there's the beginning of a love triangle here and for the first time in a long while, this intrigues me. I adore Gabriel. He's cute, funny, smart, friendly, and much like Arran, I just want to cuddle him. Annalise I'm somewhat on the fence about. Her family, prominent White witches and perpetual abusers of Nathan, are solidly on my Hate List and it bugged me that she never stood up to them properly. But I get it's not that easy and so I feel for her too. Her and Nathan's romance is sweet in that they're kids and they see more than White and Black between them. However I'm not completely sold on their relationship. Nathan is so very invested in it, but to me it's too much a fairy tale. I'm not sure I believe it's real lasting love, though I want that for Nathan. I guess we'll see. And after that cliffhanger, I certainly can't wait. 

The moment I finished Half Bad I had to pick up Half Wild. I'd bet you'll want to do the same, fair warning. It's that freaking good.




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