Half-Bad

Author: Sally Green
Series: Half-Life, Book 1
Publisher: Penguin
Star Rating: 3/5
Date Read: June 2nd to 4th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Review:
I was lucky enough to score a pretty, special silver-covered copy of this book from PTALive Melbourne. Score! But now I’ve read it, and I don’t know how to write this review, and I don’t know how to rate this book. So I’m just going to start typing and hopefully I’ll figure it out…


Sally Green’s writing style is very different. To start with, we have a second person perspective for the opening chapters of the book before switching to first. We have slow, meandering story of a boy named Nathan, who has gotten a rough ride in life. A half White Witch and half Black Witch, white being good and black being evil, he is constantly persecuted for what he is. He struggles with knowing who he is and whether he is good or bad. He is not just what they tell him he is, but they, they being The Council, won’t let him be anything else.

The plot picks up when Nathan escapes from being a prisoner of The Council (and personally it felt way, way too easy) and finds a witch who he hopes will help him get his three gifts and hence his magical ability when he turns seventeen. This is traditionally received from the closest living relative, but Nathan’s mother is dead and his father just happens to be the evillest of the evil black Witches. Which is why everyone is keeping an eye on Nathan – or trying to.

What irked me about this book was the fact that we got very little, if any, background to the Witches, why Black is bad (we know why Nathan’s dad is bad, but what about the others?). Where did the distinction come from? The moral ambiguity is rampant in this book. What makes someone good or bad? It is, obviously, more complicated than black and white. But the answer I want is why?. Possibly also how.

Nathan is an absolutely pitiful character, determined to find his father and answers I suppose, but not much else. He is wavering between what it means to be black or white, bad or good. He’s got no idea what he’s doing. He’s different to your normal hero, he’s not confident or self assured, he doesn’t know what he wants, he’s not on the path of righteousness for the greater good. I would like it, I think, if he wasn’t so vague.

This book also needs more magic. A book about witches, in England of course because that setting just seems fitting, but hardly any magic.

So to sum it up, needs more magic and this poor kid needs some direction. And can I get some background with that too? Thanks.

I have decided this book gets 3 stars. Isn’t that a bit vague of me? Probably.

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