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Half Bad Paperback – January 1, 2014
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The story starts a little confusingly with action that is occurring around half-way through the novel while the main character, Nathan, is being held prisoner somewhere. I would liken it to a POW camp with the stuff he goes through. He then begins to fill in the story with his own memories of his life as he continues to deal with the current conditions that surround him.
Nathan is a type of half-blood in a world that holds an underworld population of witches: White and Black. The color designation is not about skin, but about magical abilities. Nathan's mother was a powerful white witch with amazing healing abilities while his father was a very dark black witch who killed a lot of bad people and ate their hearts to absorb their magical "gifts" (ala Syler from the original "Heroes" television show). Despite this, with Nathan's mother deceased and a society of witches that hate him simply because of his birth, he truly has to fight for his existence.
He lives his young life with his grandmother and three siblings that are from a different father. One sibling hates him and blames him for their mother's death while the other two love and care about him deeply. His grandmother also loves him and wants him to have a happy life. Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems against that idea except for those of black witch blood and one white witch who Nathan falls in love with.
It is an amazing story about a young man who has to become more than he or anyone expected without knowing who in his life is friend or foe. Despite the bad things Nathan does and the anger he feels at the world, you can't help but root for him and wish him success. He's a wonderful character and I enjoyed this story immensely. So much so that I immediately ordered book two and preordered book three (which is now available). I will likely be adding reviews of those two books very soon. If they are anything like this one, there will be two more 5-star reviews for this author.
That said, anybody wishing to read this series should be aware that there is extensive and graphic child abuse, and that the book is more or less in first person, in the perspective of the child receiving the abuse. The core issue at hand is a parable for racism and the way that racist attitudes being normalized and perpetuated by a society that doesn't question racist behavior can lead to gross mistreatment of citizens not matching the desired genetic make-up of those in power. Nathan struggles in an unfairly oppressive world that ultimately has been literally crafted to penalize him specifically, as the story unfolds. It's gripping, indeed, as the reviews suggest, but can be a little exhausting, emotionally-- it seems that nothing ever goes right for Nathan.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it, with the above warning for the abuse.
Author: Sally Green
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Half Bad Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I bought a copy of this book and reviewed it.
We are currently in the process of moving, and a lot of my books have been packed away. I still have my library stack, but I decided to pick a book I'd bought on my Kindle to mix it up a bit. I bought Half Bad as a Christmas gift to myself back in 2014, and it's been sitting on there ever since, waiting to be read. I knew that the book was a series debut from a brand new author, and that it revolved around witches. It is both of these things and so much more, I really enjoyed it!
Nathan is the son of the most dangerous, notorious Black Witches in Britian. His mother was a powerful White Witch, but despite that, Nathan is viewed with fear and disgust by most, even by some members of his own family. Forced into servitude to White Witches who seek to use him for thier own ends, Nathan is forced to leave his family behind and search for what it really means to be himself, as well as a human being. But he soon discovers that to embrace his magic may mean paying the ultimate price...
Half Bad is a volatile, exquisitely written story, told through several strange lenses. The narration bounces from one point to another, depending on where you are in the story. It jarred me before I really got used to the pacing; nonetheless, it was refreshing, even if it was hard to follow at first. Once the book really hits its stride, I couldn't put it down--I was captivated by Nathan's dangerous world, where Black and White witches live in war and secrecy, rife with intrigue and betrayal. It was so much fun, and that ending freaking killed me. I need Half Wild immediately! Strange, captivating, and heartbreakingly human, Half Bad has got to be one of my more recent favorite books; I can't wait to finish this series! Next on deck: Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes!
Top reviews from other countries
The far superior White Witches or S***es(I love this!) as they become to be known through one character, have control of much of the UK and are in the process of hunting down and seemingly culling Black Witches.
Black witches are attuned to the night, have vastly more powerful gifts but have a tendency to kill each other, and more often that not, their family.
One Black Witch in particular is Marcus, who has killed a lot of witches, white and black alike for his own survival. It just so happens, that through illegitimate courtship with a white witch, he has a son.
That’s bad news for Nathan.
Being a ‘half-code’ as the Whites put it, he can choose either side, though he is constantly monitored, disciplined, isolated and point-blank treated as a criminal although he is just a child.
After years of captivity, caged, cuffed, assessed and punished for minor indiscretions, the Whites offer him a deal.
White code status in return for his assistance in killing his own father.
Naturally, he refuses, though he has no real reason to, his Father is as illusive to him as he is to anyone and hasn’t attempted to make contact.
After this refusal, Nathan was literally branded as a criminal. He is marked as a Black Witch, he is marked magically, all the way done to his bones. Tattoos that cannot be removed no matter how deep you skin the flesh…
Circumstances come to light in which Nathan makes his grand escape, and sets off on his mission to find Mercury, a witch who can give him his three gifts before his birthday, as he fears without, he will die.
This one book has a hell of a lot to digest. It’s a brilliant read, a bit slow in places as the world of witches is built up and explained chapter by chapter, following how Nathan ended up in his cage but we are spared no expense when it comes to the plot kicking off.
We see Nathan’s insecurities, lack of respect for authority, his dreams and hopes for his Father and his capacity to believe there is good in White Witches despite that fact that for 90% of his life, he has been shunned, shamed and tortured by them.
The acts that take place in the book by both adult and teen White Witches are brutal, calculated and cringe-worthy. Not what you’d expect from the self-proclaimed heroes of the Witch world, though we quickly understand that nothing is as it seems.
The hunters are ruthless and don’t let up on Nathan, sparing him no mercy from their hacked up supremacist retorts and punches.
And when we finally encounter Marcus. He seems like a puppy by comparison. Did I mention he eats the hearts of Witches’ by the way?
Come here boy!
Despite his obvious flaws, Marcus is definitely going to be a baddie that you just love to love. Besides, accounts of his attacks are publicised by who? You guessed it, the White Witches. For all we know, they could have killed them and blamed Marcus to save their own skin. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Half Bad definitely has a thing for making you doubt even the solidarity of proven facts.
I have extremely high hopes for Half Wild as we delve further into this mysterious world of treachery, darkness and ultimately Nathan’s gift, which judging by the cover, may take after his father’s.
This review was originally posted on: [...]
I think it’s fairly safe to say that this isn’t a problem Half Bad has. And I loved it!
Half Bad is set in our world, but a version where Black Witches and White Witches have their own society and live (kind of) alongside fains (non-magical people). On their seventeenth birthday they receive three gifts (normal presents) and drink the blood of one of their relations (mmm...yum) and then they receive their Gift (psychic power). This could be anything from telekinesis to the ability to control the weather. White Witches use their Gift for good (and their version of good involves torturing Black Witches to death) whereas Black Witches... Well, it just sounds like Black Witches take their Gift, give the Council of White Witches the finger and spend the rest of their lives being persecuted by the Council’s Hunters.
I’ve read reviews that have compared Half Bad to Harry Potter. Well, I guess if you’re talking about a version of Harry Potter where Harry is kept in a cage in the garden instead of the cupboard under the stairs, and he regularly gets the crap beaten and stabbed out of him instead of being educated at Hogwarts, and where people try to force him to murder, and instead of having loads of really nice mates he has no one at all and instead of his dad being a hero he was basically Voldemort, then yes, in that case I’d say Half Bad is exactly like Harry Potter.
So yes, I’d say that Sally Green took away her (possibly imagined by me) feedback and definitely came up with something edgy. And well written. And fun. And heart-rending.
Can’t wait to read the next one.
Nathan is a half code. Which is to say he's both "good" and "bad" Witch. It's the usual dark and light, black and white witch formula. Except what's exciting about this book is that Nathan doesn't really know which he wants to be, or is most likely to become.
I really enjoyed the setting for this novel. It has a really unique feel to it with extensive information about the universe it's set in which made it easy to love. But the thing is, there really is a lot about this book which is great. The characters are likeable, even the seemingly nasty ones have you rooting for them. I loved the paradox between good and bad and the exploration of how good people aren't always good and bad people can do good things. It breaks the fairytale mould in this regard and I loved connecting to each character.
Ostensibly this is a coming of age story typical of this genre. But it stands out largely because of those positives rather than because of the storyline.
This world is a strange, dark and twisty world which could have been much more eerie but was certainly angry and tense. I was so drawn in to the suspenseful, mysterious adventure and couldn't put it down for hours. The novel moves swiftly with endless new developments, rules and challenges - all of which were great - but my only criticism is that it was so typical. So same-y. I was really hoping for something new in this heavily saturated market and sadly this wasn't too different.
Despite this, I think this is a great book and fans of this genre will definitely love it - it ticks almost all the boxes. I just didn't tick the "original" box.
The sign of a good book is when you can’t stop thinking about it after the last page.
The sign of a good book is when you would die for the sequel to be released the next day.
So you know what? Half Bad = a good book.
I freely admit that it might not be for everyone; the elements of torture inflicted on “children” particularly when written in the second person definitely turns stomachs. I’m no exception, and that’s why I loved it (worried how much that says about me…). Everything was so dark including Sally Green’s writing with the second person that worked brilliantly in involving you in the story. It’s great when books suck you into the story, and I know I won’t be explaining it properly when I say you literally live it.
Another aspect I loved that is always vital for a good book was the world. The background had a rather dystopian feel with the white witches ruling, and basically killing off every black witch who’s unlucky enough to be noticed. Our main protagonist Nathan is half white witch, half black witch on his father’s side; who just so happens to be the most feared black witch in the world. It might have something to do with the touch of mass murder. Might not (but probably is).
Nathan is then feared and hated, forced to endure a life that no one let alone a child should live, so I was overjoyed he could find light in his world through Annalise. She’s sweet and everything but it was hard to get emotionally involved, especially for the amount of time you see her. Nathan on the other hand is so easy to imagine and picture, you can feel his emotions flowing off the pages enticing your own in return. I wanted everything to work out for him so much that every, single time he hit a hurdle his pain mirrored my own.
I can’t wait to see where Sally Green takes his story, and after this brilliant debut I can safely say that I will be in on what looks like a hell of a ride. I just wish it wasn’t so far away…
Posted on: http://enchantedbyya.blogspot.co.uk