Series: Half Bad #1
Published by Penguin Australia on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
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Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.
You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
Half Bad is a story that you wouldn’t expect. The blurb describes white witches and dark witches hinting at lots of magic and fantasy, which it is not. What this story is however, is the account of one boy who is different from others and abused by the superior race for being a half black and half white witch.
The book spans Nathan’s life from childhood to his teens. On his 17th birthday, he anticipates receiving three gifts from a witch and the blood of his mother or father, in order to turn into a fully fledged witch with powers. Otherwise, due to the black in his blood, he will most likely die. The white witches have monitored Nathan for his whole life, and slowly but surely, they begin overstepping their boundaries and torturing this innocent boy. It is an incredibly raw, heart breaking account from Nathan who has been mistreated his whole life. From closely monitoring him, to removing his rights, to capturing him and keeping him under duress and killing his loved ones, the white witches know no boundaries as Nathan nears his 17th birthday.
I am kept in a cage and I don’t want to die in a cell and I don’t want to be tortured and I don’t want to kill my father. I don’t want any of it, but it just goes on and on and on.
There are some interesting moral dilemmas that are addressed when it comes to good and evil. The evil black witches, are the ones who go on a rampage and kill innocent people including their own family. But if the good guys, the white witches torture an innocent young boy from childhood, use and manipulate him as a tool and treat him like an animal, how is that any better? The most striking thing about Half Bad, is if you swap out the word witches, for any race, colour or culture, it sadly applies to human nature.
Half Bad starts off at a slow, staggering pace as it details Nathan’s accounts with his family, and then his life in a cage. A good 80% of the book talks about every detail during this time, but the latter half of the book is a jarring contrast as it moves really quickly, skipping on some major details. Soon Nathan meets a heap of accomplices in his journey to seek out his dad and it made this half difficult to follow.
The writing is also slow, stunted, detailed with a lot of irrelevant information, but is somehow fitting for Nathan’s voice. It communicates Nathan’s confusion, fear, and hopes for connecting with his father as he learns about the world . Very little time is devoted to anything other than what is happening to Nathan throughout the novel.
Half Bad tells a raw, confronting, heart-wrenching story of abuse and discrimination, with a glimmer of hope and belief for the victim. Unimaginable things happen to Nathan throughout his early life, but he finds a way to deal and pulls through without breaking. Throughout the story, you’ll be aching for a release and happily ever after for Nathan. With a unique voice and some interesting moral issues between good and evil, Half Bad wasn’t…well, Half Bad.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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