Half Bad - Book Review
Book #1 in the Half Bad Trilogy
UK Publisher: Penguin
Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shacked, 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 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?
What started off for me as a slow, slightly confusing read quickly turned into something special that I was unable to put down. Half Bad is a book with a strong, unusual voice that will take you on a journey of magic and adventure through one boys quest to discover the truth about who and what he really is.
All his life Nathan has been shunned by the white witches, including members of his own family. For he is a hybrid, half white, half black and until he reaches his seventeenth birthday, no one knows how his powers will manifest. Deemed as a danger to the white witches, his childhood is stolen from him when he is put under lock and key and forced to endure test upon cruel test. His only hope is to escape the white witches clutches and seek out the father he has never met, Marcus, a notorious black witch and murderer.
But Marcus will not be easy to find and Nathan’s survival depends on him being granted three magical gifts upon his seventeenth name day. Gifts that can only be obtained by drinking an elder relatives blood. But as the day’s to his birthday tick down, Nathan learns that he must pay a price to get what he wants, but the question is, just how much is he willing to sacrifice? And is his own survival worth the cost?
I felt this book got off to a slow start and as the story jumps from past to present, the beginning is a little confusing. However, I urge readers to not despair, preserve as eventually it all makes sense and by that point you will be hooked. Also as the story is told from Nathan’s point of view and he has a very blunt way of perceiving the world, it may take a couple of chapters to become accustomed to his voice alone.
Nathan himself is a very complex character. Treated badly by the council of white witches, and unable to understand the sheer hatred that radiates from his older half-sister, he grows up trusting few and learns the valuable skill of playing dumb. Suffering with constant self doubt over who he is and what he may become, my heart bled for him as he tried to show again and again that he was a good person - despite the councils best attempts to turn him into something else.
I simply loved Aaron, Nathan’s half brother. He is one of the kindest characters in the whole story and I hope he continues to be a pillar of support across the next few books. However I thought all the characters came with strong traits and personalities and I enjoyed meeting each and everyone of them, both the good guys and the bad - although sometimes the line that divided blurred.
Relationships also play a huge theme in this novel. Half bad explores the bonds between family, the unity among outcasts and the excitement and sacrifice of both forbidden love, and love unrequited. All these things contributed to the depth of the story.
The whole good vs evil, white vs black element also adds a strong current to the plot and although the book transpires at a rather slow pace, I feel that Sally Green intended for this to be a more emotional read - although the action does pick up towards the end. It is definitely one of the most unique and original books that I have read for a long time. For that alone, I would recommend people give it a try.
A book that I think will be enjoyed by both boys and girls alike, I give Half Bad 4 stars!