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  1. Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

    Saturday, 29 March 2014

    Half Bad by Sally Green

    This was actually a cover buy. That is, I fell in love with the beautiful cover. And yet,as I started to read the book, I fell in love with the beautiful writing.

    Half Bad follows the protagonist, Nathan. Who is a Half Code (Half White, Half Black Witch). His mother is a white witch, whereas his father Marcus is the most feared and most hunted black witch of all time. The story starts off in second person, and then moves onto first which is interesting in and of itself. In a world where black witches are persecuted and half bloods are held under stifling law by the Council, who no doubt wish for nothing more than to rid the world of black witches and half bloods.

    At the start of the story, Nathan lives with his gran, half brother Arran and two half sisters Jessica and Deborah, all of whom are white witches, and whom Nathan's father killed. Nathan is held under the councils thumb by the notices they send to his thumb and every year on his birthday, is sent to the council for interrogation and to attempt to designate his code. 

    Being a Half Code isn't easy. Nathan can't read or write, nor can he sleep inside at night. He's treated like scum. And yet, he can heal rapidly and can tell of someone's witch status (White, black, fain) just by their eyes. A rare ability, even in this world.

    I think the sole motive for this character is to get his three gifts and the blood of a relative, which will result in him receiving his main gift. As a character, it took me a while to care for or even identify with Nathan. He was quite a confusing character, didn't really seem that likeable, or strong in any way. But his character seemed to bloom as the book progressed and by the end of it, I really wanted him to be okay. And Gabriel, <spoiler>his friend who he met towards the end</spoiler>. 

    This is no Harry Potter. I shall warn you now. It is dark, it is violent. It is not a light read, and you will actually be shocked at the violence that it features. And yet, it seems so hopelessly realistic that you actually feel anger at the council, and the Hunters, who despite being White Witches, are probably just as evil as some black witches.

    For me, the recurring theme is that there is a thin line between good and evil. In fact, the author actually says in her acknowledgements that the following quote by Shakespeare's Hamlet is an inspiration for the whole story.

    "There is nothing neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

    Before being introduced to other character's, I was under no illusions that all black witches were evil. Perhaps by only being introduced to bad ones at that point. But then, as Nathan's mind slowly changed, and we were introduced to another black witch, one whom didn't seem evil. (He had killed, yes), but he seemed less bad than most white witches.

    Now. Onto the book itself. The writing, I found was clear, crisp and beautiful. The author found no need for big, confusing words and instead used impact to keep the reader going. I will admit, though. The book does start off slow and can get boring in places. But for its genre, I think it's a good way to introduce the setting, characters, feel before bouncing right into the action. Which is exciting, heart pounding and exhilarating. You really get a feel for the characters in these scenes, and I could almost imagine myself beside them. Smell the blood, taste the sweat in the air.

    Despite this being a cover buy, I fell completely in love with Half Bad, and will await anxiously, the sequel which is due out next Spring.


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