Half Bad by Sally Green
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #1
Publication: March 4th 2014 by Penguin Books
Format: Paperback Pages: 394
‘Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, 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 the 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?
Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.’ – Goodreads.
Half Bad began with a second person narrative, which I thought was weird, I usually hate second person narratives because, well, they suck. So I was relieved when the narrative changed to the first person in following chapters. But as much as I found it weird and irritable at first, the second person narrative at the beginning of this story did its job. By the end of the first chapter, I was so thoroughly engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to put it down.
Half Bad is narrated from the perspective of Nathan, a sixteen-year-old who seems to face continuously brutal treatment simply for being the offspring of Marcus, who everyone pretty much fears and hates more than Satan. Nathan’s world is pretty black and white; you’re either a good witch or you’re a bad witch, and this trait is passed down to you by your parents. So it’s a mindboggling situation when a good witch decides to get knocked up by a bad witch and produce a child who is half good and half bad. You’d think that would be happening quite often, but it’s actually a rare occurrence in Nathan’s world, and he is given hell for it. If he were to go on a killing spree, I’d actually be rooting for him because that’s how ticked off I was for him and the way most of the other characters treated him.
I expected the story to involve wands and pointy hats in the more conventional fashion of witch fiction, but it didn’t. It had a unique approach to magic and focused more on Nathan’s experiences and his desire to get magic (it needs to be initiated) than on magic itself. I believe there will be more of the hocus pocus in the following book, which I’m looking forward to reading.
To add more to the fun, some readers (including myself) have summarised this book as the teen years of Hogwarts’ Potions Master, Severus Snape. Seeing the similarities between Nathan and Snape definitely made me enjoy Half Bad a lot more. On the downside, the story seems to drag on a bit after reaching midpoint, and it feels like you’re waiting for a long time for the story to get back to the point. Despite this, I still think this book was fantastic, and it deserves a high rating. There were some unanswered questions, which I believe will be answered in the following book.