Half Wild by Sally Green Review: Sympathetic Villain

May 13, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Half Wild by Sally Green Review: Sympathetic VillainHalf Wild by Sally Green
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #2
Published by Penguin Australia on March 25, 2015
Source: Publisher
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. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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41 responses to “Half Wild by Sally Green Review: Sympathetic Villain

  1. I haven't read any of these books but I have the first one on my TBR because I would like to try it! I like the idea of a lot of things happening – but it seems like the witchy element isn't really there all the time and on a deeper basis not to much is occurring. Hmm, that leaves me torn about this one!
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  2. Faye M.

    Geez, that page with the "ch" gives me the creeps! I feel like that really showed the very dark and unstable side of Nathan! I really don't like Annalise though and it's kinda sucky for me to have a plot that revolves around her again, although if you say i like that, it does make sense, but ughhhh I just don't really like her at all. Haha! I'll probably read this sometime soon. I didn't love the first book because of the weird pacing, but I did love how it wasn't so black and white.
    My recent post Review + PH Giveaway: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

    • I know, you nailed it perfectly Faye! Annalise was so annoying, I wanted more of the other ship! This one probably has better pacing than the first book, but the romance is annoying.

  3. I actually didn't like Half Bad… It read like Hanna, the movie with Saoirse Ronan? It starts off EPIC and then gets… weird. I don't really know. The creativity was awesome and I loved the insight about black vs. white but it was just weird because of what I thought would be serious topics. I have an ARC of Half Wild but I don't think I'll be reading it.

    Great review, though! I like hearing that the second book is consistent!
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    • I haven't seen that movie, but I kind of know what you mean because it changes tact halfway through. Thanks Nova!

  4. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    I don't think I will care for the romance with Annalise either, since I didn't in the first book. Why, oh why, could this not turn into an M/M romance?! I, too, ship Nathan with Gabriel bad bad bad. <3 The author should write an LGBT book, I think. Great review, Jeann!!
    My recent post LGBT Recommendations for You ❤

  5. Zoe

    So glad you liked this one Jeann! I read the first one and agree with you that the romance with Annalise was kind of unnecessary, so I'm sorry to hear it continues here. But it sounds like a wonderful sequel overall! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <33
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  6. I haven't read book one yet so I skimmed a bit! I really enjoy those evil vs. good books with a grey area in between. I also really love heroes with a dark side, and hopefully that'll make me like Nathan. The romance sounds painful though, and by the way you described it, I have a feeling that I'll root for Gabriel as well! Plus ugh, I'm not an Aussie so I wouldn't know, but if anyone portrayed Filipinos horribly, I would totally rage. >:( Fantastic review, Jeann!
    My recent post 5 Signs You Will Love 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger (+Giveaway)

    • Yeah, it adds a lot of complexity when they mix the good and the evil, I like it because nothing is ever black and white. Thank you Aimee! Yeah, the Aussie portrayal was terribly stereotypical and painful lol.

    • I knowww, it was so annoying what she was doing, but you know what, I couldn\’t blame her. THE SHIP WILL SAIL NARA< IT WILL

  7. LilysBookBlog

    I was actually one of the few who didn't like Half Wild. I'm definitely in the minority and I know this series is already a favourite for so many, but i had a really difficult time conecting with the writing, story and characters. that being said, i'm so happy you enjoyed this one jeann! I love a good villanious story and while i don't think this ones for me, i definitely love the subject. Great review!
    My recent post All the Rage: Review

    • Yeah, the writing and the plot is actually quite different isn\’t it? I think I was used to it from reading Half Bad though. Thank you Lily!

  8. readerswonderland

    Hmm, it sounds like there is more of the "decisions aren't clearly black and white" aspect I liked from the first book although the pacing in this one doesn't seem all that great, especially if not much happens until the later bits :/ I never really cared for Annalise either.
    My recent post Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  9. keionda

    So the book cover totally reminded me of the Dark Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I think it's just the color. 🙂 also, the love story seems very cutesy. I've never read a book about witches since I was a kid and it didn't have romance in it so I just know this one is going to be good. 🙂
    My recent post Discussion #3: Eh… So this is awkward…

  10. booksbonesbuffy

    I've been so curious about these books. I actually won a copy of Half Wild recently and I'd love to catch up with the first book. I love fantasy/horror stories that mimic real life and history, so I'm sure I'd enjoy this. Thanks for the review, Jeann!

  11. danielleisbusyreading

    I'm not sure this series will ever be for me, but my friend was sending me some screen shots and I would totally be team Gabriel lol. Annalise sounds super annoying, or at least his obsession with her does.
    I hope you end up satisfied with the series when the last book releases next year!

    • Yeah, I know some people love it but it's fairly entertaining for me with the dark tortured soul. Thanks Danielle, I hope so too!

    • Yup, it's mostly from the guy's point of view. I totally know what you mean, that's how I prefer my fantasy as well!

  12. I couldn't agree more! Annalise is just – ugh, but she is an important characters, and was in this instalment more-so because of her actions, which were UNACCEPTABLE. My heart broke, seriously.. I seriously have a lot of love for this series, a lot of a lot, I just fall right into it and I CANNOT wait for the final instalment! Fabulous review Jeann!<3
    My recent post Where Art Thou Bisexual and Lesbian Relationships?

    • Yeah I just couldn't understand what she was doing, but I don't really blame her because Nathan kept so much from her. Can't wait for it, the cover is stunning!

  13. I LOVE THIS SERIES AN ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNT. And I totally agree and see how it is with Annalise and Gabriel. It's epic the way it's spinning out…like, I don't think Nathan should particularly be with anyone just yet. He's pretty damaged. He needs, like, love and careful feeding of warm cupcakes or something, before committing to a full-time relationship. (With Gabe, DUH, because that's my ship. #Nathriel) Ohhhh, but the ending SLAYED ME. Like best/worst cliffhanger ever. XD