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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Half Lost by Sally Green (Half Bad, #3) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

To defend the Alliance from destruction,

he must become its ultimate weapon.

And to save a society that hates him,

he must risk losing all that he loves...

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 335
Chapters: 40
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

I am heartbroken...

And, of course, full of elation because Half Lost is one of the reasons that I love reading books!

But, I'm kinda never going to be the same again. Remaining in a perpetual state of crying is normal, right? I get the feeling it'll be my new normal every time I think of this book.

I'll try to be coherent, apologies if I'm not. Half Lost is a phenomenal finale with a phenomenal finale of its own. The first three quarters of the story are a fast-paced ride where you will experience action, adrenaline and an array of emotional blows that do nothing to prepare you for the end. Revelations are had and the war of the series is here to be fought. And fought it is.

With magic, mystery and potential mental breakdowns, Half Lost closes a series you'd do best to pick up if you love young adult fantasy with conspiracies, complex characters and romance that will take your breath away...

SPOILER WARNING (Because there is no way I'm writing this review without revealing and venting the biggest spoiler of the entire story. You've been warned.)

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

The time has come for the final battle.
For White and Black to finally reunite and restore the balance and peace.
But Death hangs back at the edges rubbing his hands with glee.
There will be death, pain and destruction, and the hopeful future being fought for might never come.
But Nathan Byrn has a fire inside him waiting to consume.
He's more powerful than he's ever been, but never more vulnerable.
His enemies cry for his blood while his allies plot behind his back.
Nathan could lose more than the war.
He could lose everyone he cares about, and be left in the world alone...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

If you've read the book, would you say my synopsis is too passive aggressive? You don't even need to read between the lines to see my frustration. Ah, well, there's a spoiler warning.

Okay, deep breath time. Try to think rationally and review. So Half Lost starts off fine, slow as the story and characters deal with the explosive ending in Half Wild. From there we get some fantastic character progression while the plot simmers its way to boiling point. It's a reflective and riveting experience that Green enhances with bouts of action that benefit exceptionally from Nathan and his plethora of magical abilities.

As we reach the midway point things speed up (if that's even possible). Plans come into action and everything our cast has been fighting for is highlighted. The severity of the situation is struck with a flaming sword and the biggest use of magic the series has used to date is on show. This is definitely the conclusion.

But the end... That is where the emotional punch comes and destroys you. I'm really quite pleased, and in some ways surprised, that Green gives us a superb gay romance. I'm ecstatic about it because we don't see, or read, about it enough, and surprised, well, for the same reason. And it's main characters, not a sidelined event. But, with the major theme of the novels focused on prejudice, it's the perfect fit. It's not a gimmick or something to be edgy, it has a purpose and an investment that resonates with the reader.

And I don't hate the way it ends... I know, send for the firing squad. As we reach the final scenes, Gabriel, one of our two lovebirds, dies in the great battle. It's shocking and has you in tears and leaves you wondering if you'll ever love again. But, there's so much more to it, and I'll explain my reasoning when I get to the characters.

It is safe for me to say that Sally Green delivers a fantastic and fierce finale that will stay with you for a long, long time.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

Pure gold. It's fast, but never sacrifices depth and development; it's smooth, but the ride is far from uneventful; and it's more mature, with the writing conveying clear motivations and messages.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

So Green has a spectacular cast, practically an all-rounder: Those you love, you love, and those you hate, you hate (well, except Annalise, I have a feeling you're supposed to be mixed about her, when really you just hate her). They're all distinctive; time and effort have gone into each one and it shows.

But they ain't who I want to talk about.

I want to talk about Nathan and Gabriel, our protagonists, and romantic partners. First off, this is how romance is done! Green creates a relationship that is natural, grounded and very, very real. It's not love at first sight; it's not fairy tales and lovey-dovey language; it's real and gritty, hopeful and heartbreaking. So it's no wonder that when Gabriel dies at the end you feel like you've been obliterated in every way possible.

And yes, I know it's a common trope for gay relationships in fiction, but it's true to the Half Bad world, and like Nathan and Gabriel, it burned bright. But the ending doesn't end with despair, it ends in love and reunion. 

For a part of this novel's predecessor, Half Wild, and for a large part of this entry, Green lays the foundations for something called the Essence. The Essence, for me, is actually just a fancy way of describing nature. And from nature all things are born, and to nature all things return. I'm beginning to ramble, but stay with me. The world needed Nathan and Gabriel to affect change, they are two parts of a whole, and both are instrumental in bringing about a new world order.

And nature provided that.

And once they were done, they both returned, together. 

In my mind, they are together, free, happy.

And I think that's pretty fucking amazing. (Pardon the language.)

Writing - 5/5 Stars

To pack a punch like that, you have to be better than just good.

Sally Green, you are amazing, and I can't wait to read your next adventure.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

A thrilling, emotional and memorable read.

Please, if you haven't already, pick up this series.


Previous Instalment: Half Wild


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