Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ARC Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Title: Half Bad
Series: Half Life #1
Author: Sally Green
Published: March 2014 by Viking (Penguin Group)

Synopsis: 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.

I received an ARC copy of Half Bad as part of the On the Same Page ARC Tours. I was so excited to read it, Half Bad was one of my most anticipated books of the season. It has everything I love reading about. Magic, action, and the exploration of good and evil. I was not at all disappointed.

As far as the magic and world goes, I read a lot of fantasies, and books with at least some magic as part of the story. I am always looking for a unique magical system, something that isn't just being able to do spells or control the elements. I was definitely very impressed with the magic in this book. As the description indicates the witches in the this world are split into Black and White Magic. But each individual witch also has their own powers based on their talents. At the age of seventeen there is a gifting ceremony where your "Gift" is able to manifest itself. This Gift can be anything from being able to do potions, turn into another person or animal, or become invisible. The idea is very cool and some of these gifts are pretty badass. And while magic is a huge part of this book it definitely wasn't the biggest part.

As the title may lead you to believe this is a book about good and evil. The main character Nathan is the direct descendent of the most evil Black Witch in Britain and because of this fact people are afraid that he will end up becoming just as dark as his father. The White Witches who are in control do everything in their power to make sure this doesn't happen. It becomes much more about nature versus nurture when it comes to good and evil. Nathan is brought up to think he is evil but as the book goes on it makes you as the reader wonder if that's true or not and if he did turn evil would it be because of the way he was brought up or because of genetics. It definitely brings up a lot of questions and makes you understand that nothing is black or white not even witches. 

The fact that there is so much analysis of good and evil in this book it unsurprisingly leads to the characters being incredibly multi-dimensional. The main character Nathan is incredibly likable and easy to empathize with. Right from the very beginning I was rooting for him to succeed and get what he wants most. But Nathan wasn't the only character like that. There were some amazing villainous characters including Nathan's sister who is one of those love to hate kind of characters and some other characters that were surprisingly good in the end. The characters were so interesting and complex that I wanted to continue to read to see what would happen with them in the end.

But the best and most interesting thing about this book was the way it was written. The book began being told in second person with some brutal explanations of the way Nathan is treated. It is not for the faint of heart. There were many times when I was slightly uncomfortable with what was being described and I like blood and gore. But then as the book developed the perspective shifted as it began to be told in first person. But it didn't quite feel like first-person. It was like a superficial form of storytelling making me wonder if Nathan is an unreliable narrator. It had the same haunting sort of tone that I've felt in books like The Handmaid's Tale and The Life of Pi. It is the kind of book that makes you think and feel and when it's all over you're not quite sure what had happened.

But I also seriously enjoyed the plot of this book. It began with an event that happened about a third of the way through the book and then we go back to the beginning of the story to find out what happened to lead up to that event and what happens afterwards. From there things slowly develop to an exciting conclusion with lots of action along the way. This is the first book in a trilogy but it was not very guilty of First Book Syndrome. It had just enough world-building, didn't keep many secrets but had lots of surprises, and there wasn't much of a cliffhanger. I'm interested to see where the rest of this series leads us because I am very invested in the series but I was so satisfied with the way this book ended that I am slightly worried. 

I give Half Bad by Sally Green a 9 out of 10

Half Bad was an amazing start to a new Young Adult fantasy series with great characters, lots of action, and a very cool magical system. It will make you think and make you feel. I loved it.Have you read Half Bad? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment and of course HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you liked this one! I am looking forward to reading it! Also, I LOVE the Snape Gif's! Yay for not having too much of a cliffhanger even though it is the first in a series!