June 11, 2018

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-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 seventeenth 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.

I dare you to read the first 3% of Half Bad and not immediately want to drop everything else in your life. Because that happened to me and unfortunately, I was at work so spent an unbearable but delicious few hours until I got off, anticipating how I was going to tear into the following 97% for the rest of the night.

What hooked me so hard and so fast? I knew very little about this book before downloading it.  Witches.  That’s it. That’s all I knew. So when the novel opened with an arresting second person POV– putting me in the place of the boy in the cage - I was instantly riveted.  How was this poor creature going to escape his impossible situation and how did he end up in a cage in the first place? I literally woke up at 1:00 a.m. in the morning just to continue reading this book. 

The white witches are considered “good” and the black witches “bad.” The dichotomy is very stark and troubling as it seems to be along racial lines as well. The white witches seem to be, well very white Caucasians and the baddest of the black witches is darker-skinned. Green stops short of making an overt statement about good/bad white-skinned/dark-skinned, but perhaps she’ll develop this further in the sequels.  

Inspite of the great amount of wince-inducing violence, mostly directed at our protagonist, Nathan, and my not-so-clear understanding of how this magical world operated, Half Bad was an exciting discovery. Doubly so because I instantly got the next book, Half Wild, as soon I finished reading the last page.  

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