Published March 4th 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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. (Goodreads)
If you’ve been hesitant to read Half Bad, the debut novel by Sally Green don’t hesitate any longer. It’s a great story of witches and magical powers. The second book Half Wild was released March 24th 2015, and the third book Half Lost releases March of 2016. There are also two novellas, Half Lies and Half Truths which tell more of Gabriel’s story.
Half Bad follows Nathan’s life as a half code (half white, half black) witch. In this world white witches are the ones in power. They are the good witches.The black witches are bad, they are killers, and remain hidden or are hunted and killed. Nathan’s mom was a white witch and his father was a black witch. Unfortunately Nathan’s mother died and his father’s whereabouts are unknown. So Nathan lives with his grandmother and half sisters and brothers. Until his 17th birthday the order of white witches runs assessments on Nathan to figure out if he will become a white or a black witch. All of the results are undetermined. This leads the order to continuously make more rules in order to control Nathan. Eventually he is stripped away from his family and given to another guardian where he spends much of his life in a cage, training, cooking, cleaning, and learning how to fight.
The writing was slightly confusing at times because it was written in both 2nd and 1st person. The 2nd person perspective was very gripping and the story could have been stronger if it stuck to one or the other perspectives throughout the story. Instead it was slightly confusing. The plot was rather slow paced, but not in a bad way. Green did a good job of building the world and making us feel what Nathan was feeling. At times it seemed like not too much happened, but quite a bit of time passed and many things did happen. I wanted to see more magical elements. They were introduced fairly early on in the story however we didn’t see any magical action until the last quarter of the story. Nathan was a great lead and I really loved his grandmother, and his brother Aarn. The most interesting character was Gabriel and I believe it was a smart move on Green’s part to write 2 novellas featuring Gabriel and his back story.
I am definitely excited to see what happens next for Nathan and the other characters in this trilogy. I gave Half Bad by Sally Green 4 stars.