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Review: Half Bad

Half Bad

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HALF BAD by Sally Green was released in the U.S. on March 4, 2014 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in all formats at AMAZON and in hardcover and eBook formats at BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Viking Juvenile, the print edition is 416 pages.

HALF BAD is the first book in Author Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy. The second book in the series, HALF WILD, is slated for release in 2015 and the third book is currently untitled.

Note: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book and a finished copy I purchased.

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Description…

A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.

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

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Review

HALF BAD is the astounding, heartrending and absolutely breathtaking first book in Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy. It is a story whose beautiful writing is in stark contrast with the dark picture it paints for its protagonist, a young half-Black, half-White Witch.

It invites readers into a world where Black Witches are deemed evil and White Witches are labeled good, yet both are vicious, vengeful, and bloodthirsty and neither are above intolerable acts of cruelty. It introduces readers to a boy who has been shown little kindness, who has been persecuted simply for being born of mixed witch parentage, who has been tortured and beaten and branded and threatened, but who still strives to be good.

Just because he was born the son of Marcus Edge, a dangerous and powerful Black Witch, and comes from a long line of Black Witches who were notorious for being violent, does not mean that he, Nathan Byrn, is anything like them. His mother Cora was a White Witch. He was raised by White Witches. He’d never even met a Black Witch, let alone his father.

But to the Council of White Witches in England, that isn’t enough to make him trustworthy. It isn’t enough for them to see him as anything but a threat, a tool they can use, a killer. And with each new Resolution they pass against Half Codes like him, more and more of his freedoms get taken away until he’s left with none at all. Until all that he has and all that he knows are endless days in the cage.

Author Sally Green has penned a story that is shocking, captivating and refreshingly original. Told in six parts, most of which are in the first-person narrative, the story begins in second-person narrative, allowing readers to be drawn into the story as if they are a part of it. Allowing them to feel what Nathan feels. Allowing them to experience the cage as Nathan does. Giving them the opportunity to better understand Nathan and what he’s going through.

HALF BAD is a must for fans of stories with a unique voice, gorgeous writing, an exciting storyline that will make them think, and a main character that is interesting, likable, sympathetic yet unconventional. Riveting, poignant and thought-provoking, this first installment in the Half Life trilogy invites the question of what is good and what is evil and delivers a heart-stirring story that will amaze.

Reviewer gives this book…

06

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

On a personal note…

I am having the hardest time finding the appropriate words to express just how I felt while reading this book and how it affected me after I’d read it. I can say that it was beautiful and brutal and cruel and unique and amazing and heartbreaking. And I can say that the hatred and callousness and inhumanity left me deeply saddened before it filled me with anger then took my breath away.

I can say that the writing was absolutely gorgeous and that the main character was sympathetic and wonderful and so incredibly special. I can say that the line between good and evil was very, very blurry. I can say that this story was riveting, that I was mesmerized, that it was so very different from most everything I’ve read in the genre.

I can say that I love, love, loved this book. But none of these words would come close to expressing just how I felt – how I feel – about this book.

HALF BAD is a story that made me think and made me feel. And while much of what I felt was anger toward those who acted evilly toward Nathan or who wanted to use him to achieve whatever aims they had, this story made me feel so much more. It put me on quite the emotional roller coaster. But not a familiar one.

This is not a typical YA story full of angst and romance and handsome bad boys. It is not packed full with action sequences and deadly battles between magic wielding witches. It does not introduce the main character in a way that you can make an instant connection with him, understand him or fall in love with him.

And yet, or maybe because of, all of these reasons I fell immediately and deeply in love with this book.

It is spectacular and dramatic and memorable. It is shocking and horrifying. It is fragile and hopeful and so completely irresistible. But even these descriptive words pale in comparison to the awesomeness that is HALF BAD.

Perhaps because I love it so much, because it’s so very different, because I adore Nathan so very, very much, because my words can’t possibly do this book justice, they are failing me now.

Or perhaps it’s because I’m still lost in this world of Black and White witches who are motivated by vengeance and greed and hatred. I’m still wondering who Nathan can rely on, who he can trust. I’m still curious as to what twists and turns, obstacles and hardships are still to come for him.

And I’m still desperately hoping that good will prevail.

HALF BAD is definitely a “me” book. It’s a story that stood up, reached out and grabbed me, then tossed me around for a bit before deciding to let go. I don’t think I’ve “met” another book quite like this one.  And it will be a long, long time before I imagine there’ll be another.

Favorite passage…

The writing in this story is absolutely gorgeous so I have many passages marked as favorites. But as some of the most powerful ones reveal too much about the terrible things that happen to Nathan, I thought I’d choose a short passage from a chapter that was far less revealing and just a bit more heartwarming.

“Do you know how amazing your eyes are?” she asks.

No.

She nudges me with her shoulder. “Don’t be so glum when I’m saying nice things to you.”

She leans closer, peering into my eyes and I look into hers, watching the silver glints tumble in the blue, some moving fast, some slow, some looking as if they’re moving toward me.

Annalise blinks and leans back, saying, “Maybe not so shy.”

Note: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book and a finished copy I purchased.

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