Author: Sally Green
Published: March 4th, 2014
Series Half Life #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
POV: 1st person, 2nd person
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Great Hall
A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-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 sixteenth 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?
Half Bad raises of the question of what makes a person truly evil or good, which makes for a fascinating story overall. There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding this story, and I'm sure this story will entertain many readers. I knew, from the first chapter, that Half Bad would be an intriguing survival story. And, despite a few issues, it truly was just that. Nathan's voice is easy enough to relate with, and I felt all the more sympathy for him during some of the cringeworthy events he is put through. He's genuinely struggling - despite his moody moments, Nathan isn't a bad guy. The novel starts with a bang, then backtracks to earlier years, until the POV catches up to the beginning again. I'm still uncertain as to whether or not this structure hurts or helps the story, but those beginning chapters do serve a purpose in making Nathan someone readers can (and will want to) root for. Half Bad is an interesting story with a fascinating protagonist, but it also has a few flaws.
Highlights: The writing flows nicely, making Half Bad an easy novel to read. The very beginning chapters had me hooked (that 2nd person POV was fascinating), and I like how the writing mimicked Nathan's chaotic state of mind during those chapters. The ideas presented are interesting, and I liked Green's approach to witches.
Lowlights: I felt like not enough actually happened. In the beginning, I was hooked. But halfway through, I barely managed to force myself to read until the end. I never felt like I had a strong sense of the characters. The romance felt weak, mostly because it ended before it ever really began (it might have been better to drop the romance aspect entirely). The writing style was a bit odd - I loved the 2nd person POV beginning, but then it quickly switches POV's and style to an average 1st person POV for a majority of the novel.
Rating: The Great Hall (3 to 3.5ish). This is a challenging novel to rate, because I did enjoy some moments while I hated others. I loved the first half, but by the time I reached the end, I didn't believe the plot had enough going for it. It was almost incredible, but not quite there for me.