Friday, 28 March 2014

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green (Half Life #1)

Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green                                         
Series: Half Life (#1)
Published: 1st March 2014
Source: Bought from Waterstones

 Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.


I finished this book about an hour ago and I still cannot fully process my thoughts on this book. This book has a lot of hype so, unsurprisingly, I picked it up in Waterstones. I'm not as amazed as everyone else was but it was overall a good book.

Half Bad is set in modern day where witches live among fains (muggles basically). There are White witches; the "good witches" and the Blacks; the "bad". The witch society is ruled by a council of White witches and White hunters who hunt down and kill the Blacks. Our main character, Nathan, is a Half Code - half White and half Black, which isn't supposed to happen. His mother, now deceased, was a highly respected White witch but his father is the most evil Black. If the Council decide that Nathan is more Black than White, he will be killed instantly. There is more to this witch world but it is a lot more fun to figure it out while reading.

 The book starts off with a second person narration - talking to you; the reader and you find out that Nathan (you) are in a cage being tortured. It then goes back to when he was a child which then leads up to the point where the book started and carries on from there. I found this quite an interesting technique to be using but it fit the story.

This book is heavily based on Nathan's character development from when he was 5 to his current age; 17. It can be quite slow at points and I found myself just reading the words while day-dreaming so then I'd have to read the same paragraph over again. Half Bad might not be for you if you are looking for a fast-paced, plot-driven story. This book is more of a lead-up to the rest of the trilogy and will probably depend on the sequels for an overall good series mark from me.

The world did intrigue me though. The way that the Whites look at themselves as the "good" and "superior" ones while they may be just as "bad" as Blacks or even worse just made me wonder how this society came to be. Whites hunt Blacks but the Blacks are only trying to defend themselves. It's almost racist.

I found the relationships that Nathan had with others weren't strong or well-developed, especially with Annalise - the supposed "love interest". Ms Green focused to much on Nathan's development and no-one else's.

If you are squeamish, I suggest you take note that some scenes may be gruesome before picking this up.

Overall, I enjoyed how unique this book was and I hope to enjoy the sequels even more. 3.75/5

Hagar Manssour