Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #2
Published by Penguin Australia on March 25, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.
Meanwhile, Soul O'Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
I’m in two minds about this series. I love how dark and different it is, but aside from killing each other and a lot of angst, not much else seems to happen until the last quarter of the book and it isn’t very witchy.
Half Wild is raw, dark and edgy, with a lot of angst about Nathan’s identity as a Half Black and White witch. He’s villainous, a conflicted character, who genuinely believes he’s doing the best for the people that he cares about. When he kills, he has no guilt or remorse, which would be characteristic of evil, but these people are capturing, torturing and killing his kind. What else is he supposed to do?
More than ever, the glaring difference between Black and White witches are highlighted, during passages like:
“I’m a Black Witch and have no love for Whites but in Europe we have a long tradition of live and let live. They stick to their traditional areas and we stick to ours. There’s a harmony.”
What are we talking about again? Take away “witches” and you have a strangely confronting passage about our history. That’s what I like about this series, it really makes you think about the portrayal of good and evil, and you’ll realise that there is no clear line separating them. People are simply acting for what they truly believe is right, and it’s simply gray in between.
The book takes a while to get off the ground, with Nathan reminiscing about what’s happened so far and learning how to control his “Gift”. He pretty much turns into a werewolf and rips people to shreds, waking up next to bloody bones and no memory of doing it. There’s definitely a lot of blood, guts and killing in this one.
And I’m shocked at how little I think about those people I’ve killed. I thought murderers would be haunted by memories of their victims, but I hardly give them a thought.
The plot revolves around Nathan obsessing about Annalise and working out a plan to risk his life and save her, and a brewing war where the Black and White witches will work together to topple a mutual enemy. Along the way, he meets up with the most stereotypical Aussie bloke I’ve ever encountered, Nesbith, and his best friend Gabriel. Now I’m an Aussie, and I’ve never heard anyone talk like Nesbith does, given the amount of Crikeys and Mates that he spills.
I know a lot of people were frustrated about Annalise and why Nathan is so obsessed with her, and I couldn’t see the appeal either. I shipped him with his best friend, Gabriel instead. But by digging deeper, I realise these two people represent the two sides of Nathan which are struggling to break free. Annalise sees the good in him, the rescuer, protector and the hero, someone who has the capacity to do good with his gift. Gabriel sees and accepts, even loves and understands the darker side of Nathan, that has been tortured and needs to kill. I myself, preferred Gabriel, who seems to have unconditional love for his friend rather than Annalise, who Nathan attempts to shield from his darker side.
“I thought having my Gift would be great and in a way it is. I feel stronger physically but inside, right inside, in that place where you got lost or whatever, I’m..it’s like there’s someone, something else living in me. And he comes out and takes over. But I know he’s still me, another part of me, a completely wild, uncaring me.”
I loved the creative formatting in the novel too:
Half Wild was dark, bloody and villainous story flipping all that we know is good and pure into that which is black and evil. While I didn’t really care for the romance with Annalise, I really enjoyed Nathan’s sympathetic villain point of view. It’s somehow juvenile in a sense, as he makes sense of the world and what he’s been taught under the white witches, along with what he knows and is discovering as a black witch. It’s a complex story about a brewing war, and about all the shades of gray between the forces of good and evil.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.