Author: Sally Green
Series: Half Bad Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled like a dog, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Natan 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 his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?
First Sentence: There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close together, squished in by the big arms of an old chair.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
I honestly didn’t know that Half Bad was one of the most anticipated books of 2014 until I got an ARC of it from Penguin. My friends told me how much they wanted it and how much they were looking forward to reading it, telling me I was so lucky to get a copy of it. They were that excited for Half Bad. I was really surprised about their reactions because I haven’t even heard of Half Bad until that very moment. (I must be living in a hole.) Sadly, along with a really hyped-up book comes really high expectations, especially with what I read from the ARC. (In the ARC, it says that there was a very heated auction between five U.S. publishers who went into a bidding war to obtain rights to Half Bad. Penguin won in the end.) Add the fact that Half Bad is a witch book filled with White Witches and Black Witches, supernatural creatures that anyone who writes young adult hardly writes about (or if at all), and you can’t help but have very high expectations for the book.
But you’ve seen it all before, so you close your eyes and remember stuff. It’s okay to do that sometimes. (ARC 18)
Right from the very first page, I knew Half Bad was going to be different from all the other books I’ve ever read before. The writing was dedicate and could be injured easily, soft, and puts you in the main character’s position. I was sucked in into the story right from the start; I was interested in Nathan’s past, how he ended up being a prisoner living in that cage, and how he would ever get out from the awful position he was put in. I was going to give Half Bad a rating of at least 4-stars – until I hit the first third of the book. From then on, reading the book took energy and was painful.
The second half of Half Bad was noticeably different from the first half. The writing got lazier, there was cheap info-dumping (all the info-dumping was converted into someone teaching Nathan “lessons”), and the pacing of the book was terrible. I felt like the book would never end and grew so tired trying to keep myself awake enough to finish it. I honestly didn’t care for any of the characters at the end and just wanted to finish the book already so I could move on to my next read.
When I’m in my cage I can memorize the color of the sky, the cloud shapes, their speed and how they change, and I get up there, be in the clouds in the shapes and colors. I can even get into the mottled colors of the bars of the cage, climb into the cracks beneath the flakes of rust. Roam around in my own bar. (ARC 153)
The romance in Half Bad annoyed me so badly. I can’t really explain why because of all the SPOILERS, but if your love interest does things to cause you to doubt them (I don’t think this is a spoiler because it strongly hints at this in the summary of Half Bad), why, why, why on earth would you still trust them despite how many people warned you not to? Why would you still love them? Dream about them? Risk your life to rescue them when something suspicious is obviously happening revolving around them? Why would you think about them all day, where they are and what they’re doing, when they did that to you? Going into Nathan’s mind was like watching a fifteen year old boy (yes, I’m aware Nathan isn’t fifteen) dream about naked girls all day because of something called hormones. Nathan had tons of hormone problems in Half Bad; he was that horny, that silly, and yes, that immature. You do not know how happy I was when someone told Nathan off about his ridiculous “love” for his love interest. I was literally dancing (well more like tap dancing because I can’t exactly get up) in my train seat. Too bad Nathan just brushed the guy’s comments off and ignored them, but still.
Then there are variations: she is undressing me on a hillside in Wales; she is undressing me on a beach; she is undressing me in the sunshine, in moonlight, in a rain shower, in mud and puddles. (ARC 170)
There was a cliffhanger at the end of Half Bad, but it didn’t make me want to get the sequel to Half Bad in my hands asap. I just blinked, thought something along the lines of really?, closed the book, and promptly forgot about it, falling asleep on the train. I wasn’t invested in the cliffhanger at all and I can frankly care less about what happens to all the characters at the end. Let me get this straight: I will definitely not be checking the sequel to Half Bad, despite the cliffhanger. I think I’m better off not knowing what happens in the end.
Do I recommend Half Bad? This is such a hard question. I don’t know – I know some people who absolutely loved Half Bad and other people who DNF’d Half Bad when they were about 10% in into the book. Half Bad is a hit or miss type of book. I guess it really depends on how much you want to read a book about White Witches and Black Witches.