Series: Half Bad Trilogy,
Published by Penguin Group USA on 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Boys & Men, Family, Fantasy & Magic, General, JUVENILE FICTION, Parents, Young Adult
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-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 seventeenth 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.
Sally Green’s novel of a young boy persecuted for being the son of an infamous black witch is spellbinding. We meet Nathan as a sixteen year old boy who has been caged as punishment for being born. A halfbreed son of two powerful witches: One White, the other Black. In a world where White Witches hunt down, torture, and kill Black Witches, Nathan is a powerful pawn in a dangerous game.
At the start of the novel Nathan flashes back to when he was younger, and gives readers a glimpse of what his life was like before the cage. How accepted and loved he was by most of his family, while the outside world treated him like a pariah. We meet the girl he loves, and the beginnings of their star-crossed romance. We also learn how and why he winds up “living in a cage, beaten, shackled, and trained to kill.”
As Nathan struggles to break free from his captors, Green leaves readers questioning what criteria is used to decide whether or not someone is “good” or “bad.” The White Witches in the story are depicted as villains who torment Nathan throughout his life. In fact, as you read Half Bad, one can’t help but draw parallels from the relations between witches in this novel to how Jews were treated in Nazi Germany in the early 1900’s.
The torture scenes were extremely difficult to read, and slowed down the pace of the story. At least for me, as I had to take breaks during those scenes. Green obviously knew from the beginning that Nathan’s story would be told over three books, so the overall pace of Half Bad was kind of slow. Nathan endures a lot of torture. Some of the torture scenes seemed longer and repetitive than they needed to be, and left me wondering if it was for shock factor. Then again, this is a trilogy, and Green might have things planned for Nathan that will only make sense to readers in light of what he’s suffered later in the series.
Do I Recommend?
Yes! Despite how cringeworthy the torture scenes are, I did really enjoy Half Bad. Nathan is a great narrator, and is stronger than he lets on to those around him. I can’t wait for the sequel, Half Wild, to come out later this month. However, due to the excessiveness of the torture scenes, I can only give Half Bad three out of five stars.