Half Bad by Sally Green
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 2014
Synopsis: 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?
Comments: I read this one a bit back and realized I have not written a review for it. I greatly enjoyed this book. It IS your typical good vs. evil, but it also shows that fanatical “goodness” (self righteousness & pride) can be a very evil thing. If you are looking for something Harry Potter-ish, you may want to look elsewhere. If you are looking for a new rich fantasy world, I would say don’t expect that with this book. The magic is minimal in this book. This book is heavily focused on characters. It is a character driven book. While there is lots of mention of magic and rules passed down due to magical abilities and laws enforcing magical usage or state of beings… there is little actual scenes of magic. Not to say they are non-existent, but they don’t dot the chapters like say…Harry Potter.
Writing up this review for this book and having written one for The Young Elites it seems my current mood runs towards dark and depressing. This book chronicles Nathan’s mistreatment. Black witches are considered evil. Their magic (and existence) is the bane of the “white” witches. White in quotes, because the so-called whites aren’t as pure as they delude themselves to be. Nathan’s life isn’t easy either. His family practically hates him – his sister constantly tries to entrap him to admitting to liking “evil” or having “evil” tendencies so the white witches can place him in jail or kill him. His mom practically pretends he doesn’t really exist. There are only a few members (two) who treat him close to anything like a decent human being. But due to the circumstances in the book and the world the book was built upon, I’m always questioning these people’s generosity and kindness. It will not surprise me if one of those “loving” people are, in fact, evil self righteous haters in disguise. There are many correlations to real life circumstances that one could make on this book.
Interesting enough, the story covers the span of several years and it never felt like it dragged on for me. The passage of time was linear and constantly moving forward. For those who prefers more explosions and magic, this book may be a bit slow for you. If you go expecting a book about character it may read better for you. The book tries to paint people as inherently good or evil… and then tries to say that it isn’t true. It’s quite a contradictory thing and I understand what the author was trying to do… but for me, it just felt off. At least from the perspective of the black witches.
There are books following this one so this is not a complete book on its own. There is no resolution in this sole book, but this book builds up a great story. Here’s to hoping the sequels do not fail the build up.
(Covers are hyper-linked to their Goodreads’ page.)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Why the Recommendation: Both protagonist are criticized and condemn due to factors and decisions beyond their helping or fixing. They did not choose to be a black witch or gifted with super powers, yet their world hates them for it. The allies are low and in-between and even those would considered themselves allies to our protagonist aren’t very trust worthy. Both books are also darker in nature.
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Why the Recommendation: This book like Half Bad explores the usage of power and how those in possession of power tends to become corrupted. In Steelheart, the super powered are the rulers of society, ruling the populace as tyrants and dictators, much along the same veins that the white witches seem to impose new laws regarding the lively hoods of all witches.