Half Bad by Sally Green

Half_Bad_book_coverSynopsis: 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.

My thoughts: Wow. So I heard about this series and decided to give it a go. Yesterday I picked up Half Bad. And yesterday I finished Half Bad and ordered the second, Half Wild. I am obsessively checking the UPS tracking number because I need the sequel now.

There’s so much about this book that I loved, I’m not sure I’ll remember everything to write down. It was just so well done. I love the writing style: it values both detail and brevity, and I found amazing pictures painted in my head in a remarkably short time, which was perfect because I was so caught up in what would happen next. The plot was intriguing–I seriously think it’s a good picture of what it was like to live under the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–but I feel what made it stand on its own so well was the main character, Nathan.

I love Nathan. Such amazing character work. It was utterly heartbreaking, but totally realistic and believable even in a novel about witches in England. Nathan made it real. And I loved him for that even though his sad life continually broke my heart. Love him or hate him, though, you can’t help admiring the will he has to survive. No matter how much pain, how much nastiness, how people treat him, or how hopeless his life seems, he has this gritty will to survive and make a life for himself. His conflicting character is so so so fantastic, and it truly represented the struggle he feels between being ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

Nathan was my favorite, but I also adored his brother Arran. Everyone needs a faithful supporter like Arran. And poor Gran was a saint. By the end, I’d also come to love Gabriel. There was such a large number of characters introduced throughout the book, but never did it feel overcrowded or confusing. Everything was balanced so well.

I loved the first 3/4 of the book–the last part picked up and went into overdrive. Not necessarily bad, just a little different pacing, but it worked. I felt Nathan’s anxiety. I felt his fear of being hunted. I seriously felt the need to look behind my shoulder while I read because the terror of being caught was so real and vivid.

Not only was it such an entertaining, intense, and thought-provoking story, it also brought up and so beautifully explored the age-old question: are we born what we are, or do we have the potential to be someone better–or much, much worse?

Rated 5/5 for excellent writing, astounding character development, and a plot I just couldn’t step away from.