What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Half Bad was a book I chose for Chrissi Cupboard month way back in December and one I was really looking forward to after an enthusiastic recommendation from my sister, Chrissi. As a result, I had very high expectations for the story and am pleased to confirm that these expectations were fully met! Some reviewers have mentioned that they felt the first half of the novel was the stronger half and I concur with this for the most part but it hasn’t dampened my excitement in any way for the rest of the trilogy.
Our story is set in England in contemporary times with a serving of magic and fantasy thrown in for good measure. In this imaginative world that Sally Green has created there are three types of individuals co-habiting the planet: humans and two opposing sets of witches, Whites and Blacks i.e. “goodies” and “baddies.” Our main character is a sixteen year old boy called Nathan whom when we first meet him is shackled in a cage and being tortured on a daily basis. You see Nathan is not your average “half code” (someone who has both a White and Black witch for a parent). His father, Marcus just happens to be the most dangerous, frightening and unpredictable Black witch on the planet. He is also not too good at the whole parenting malarkey having been absent from his son’s life as long as Nathan can remember.
Nathan is raised alongside his half-siblings by his grandmother who attempts to make his childhood a happy one but is thwarted at every opportunity by the White Witch council leaders who unfortunately don’t give Nathan much of a chance based purely on who his father is. As a result, Nathan is constantly made to feel that he is different, has “bad” blood and must be closely monitored. His awful half-sister Jessica is particularly cruel to him and appears to feel tainted merely by his presence if they are in the same room together. Things could be about to get a whole lot worse for Nathan as his seventeenth birthday looms – a special time for any young witch when they receive three magical gifts from their parent(s) and discover what their magical superpower/speciality will be. This is a huge concern for the bigwigs in charge of the White Witches as: 1) Nathan has only one parent who could give him his gifts, currently on Britain’s Most Wanted list and 2) there is a potential for Nathan to become just as dangerous as his father if his powers are allowed to develop.
This novel has everything you could possibly want from a book – intriguing plot, characters you love to love (or love to hate!) and jam packed full of action. The opening sequence of Nathan being tortured in the cage is tense and powerful not to mention fairly violent and it was the perfect way for the author to open the book. After all, who can resist reading on after a prologue that packs such an almighty punch? Then there are the characters starting with our hero/anti-hero Nathan whose conflicts and troubles in childhood will surely melt even the hardest of hearts and of course, the ever enigmatic Black Witch Marcus, a character so mysterious that I instantly needed to know everything about him but was denied on this count. This is something I’m not too bothered with however, it only has the effect of making him even more captivating. I also feel that the author has taken a genre and encompassing many themes that a lot of people have written about and made it both fresh and contemporary which is no small feat. Of course, as this is the start of a trilogy I finished the book with a lot more questions than answers, something I admit I was expecting and although some readers may find this frustrating I think it’s a brilliant ploy for building the drama ready for the second instalment, Half Wild which I’m now very excited to get to.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):