He's half White Witch...half Black Witch.
His mother was a healer...his father is a killer.
He's wanted by no one...but hunted by everyone.
Nathan Byrne is Half Bad...
Publisher: Penguin Books
Book Links: Goodreads
Witches! That's what I haven't read enough of recently: Witches and magic and worlds of wonderful wonder! Sure, I've read the occasional book that includes magic and those who wield it, but I haven't journeyed through one that solely focuses on them.
And with Half Bad, Sally Green brings it!
The story is a telling tale of how good isn't always pure and how bad isn't always evil, and with our protagonist Nathan, a Half Code, a being borne of both a White Witch and Black Witch, there's no better driver to race that theme home. Are people just who they are? Or how we view them? If you impose who you think a person should be, drum it into their minds over and over and over, can you really be surprised when they give you what you want?
Then of course there's the magic, the intricacies of the world, the conspiracies, and the thrilling adventure that's created from all those things.
Three words: Give. Me. More.
Well, four words: Now!
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Nathan Byrne is an abomination: He's a Half Code, half White Witch, half Black, shunned by all.
Raised in the ways of the White Witches, he doesn't fit, and no one trusts him.
Abused, tortured and degraded by those meant to walk in the light, Nathan's morality is torn to pieces.
But his seventeen birthday approaches, and on that day a parent must perform the Giving to enable him to become a fully functional witch.
If not, he'll die.
With his mother dead, Nathan's killer father is his only hope.
But what can he accomplish under the scrutiny of the White Witches' Council, who're looking for any excuse to put him down.
He's dead if he does, dead if he doesn't...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
Ms Green gives us an exceptional start. You have to commend her on her instant hook. What a way to introduce a character and his circumstances while also giving the reader an abundance of anticipation. Nathan's childhood is horrific, but completely unputdownable. It's gripping in its complexity as we work our way through a solid nature vs nurture argument.
It's a sharp lesson for all: People fear what they don't understand, and fear can make any person do stupid, horrible things.
The intriguing magical world is also well spread throughout the novel. We find out things slow and steady, giving the mythology room to breath. There's a balanced use of magic, something I've seen some reviewers aren't so keen on, but for me, this limited but juicy use is enough. It gives the author a lot of room for the sequels.
There are a few instances where the plot seems to dawdle, but for the most part, its focus on Nathan and his psyche is riveting. The action and adventure are great interludes, and the ending appeases the reader's curiosity in some ways, while keeping threads infuriatingly open for the future.
Pace - 4.5/5 Stars
Apart from those instances where you really wish things would pick up (which are few and far between), Green has a swift story that rejoices in diving deep into the complexities of the human condition. There's plenty of action, and just enough magic, so overall everything works remarkably well.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
The author writes a wide range of personalities and lives, all of which are engaging, but the focus of Half Bad remains for the majority on our main character Nathan. And that is not a negative, it's one of the biggest pros the book has.
Nathan's journey is a largely solitary one, and he's a fantastic viewpoint. His development is genuine and the persecution he faces does wonders for the reader's investment. His flaws help balance his intelligence and determination, and the way Green has him interact with fellow members of the cast just brims with chemistry.
Writing - 4/5 Stars
Strong and steady, Ms Green has high-octane scenes down to the dot. She's no slouch when it comes to contemplation either, and the balance she strikes between the two is insanely tight. I'm also still quite surprised by the author's use of the second-person narrative, mostly restricted to the beginning, but it's a stellar way of connecting the reader to our main character in a very personal way. For the majority of the novel the first-person narrative is used, but despite the imbalance, the transition is smooth.
Sometimes sentences can run into one another too often. I didn't read out loud, but for some reason I still felt like I needed to take a breath.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
Well, I'm addicted.
I need more and I sure as hell am gonna get some.
Previous Instalment: Half Truths
Previous Instalment: Half Truths
Next Instalment: Half Wild
Don't forget, you can subscribe by email near the bottom of the blog (on desktop version) and have new posts delivered straight to you!