Rummanah Aasi
  In an overcrowding field of YA paranormal books, Half Bad stands out. With a mystery and heart-stopping adventure at its core, Half Bad is about a boy who is on a desperate search to find out his true identity: is a hero or a villain? Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book.

Description: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan's father is the world's most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Review: Nathan has been plagued with one question all his life: is he good or bad?  Nathan is the son of a white, and one the infamous, hated black witch, Marcus. The very fact that he does not belong to one group makes the Council of White Witches uneasy on how to label him.
 I was intrigued by Half Bad from the very beginning, especially since it begins medias res, with Nathan speaking to himself in second person point of view while living in a cage but attempting at every opportunity to escape and being submitted to beatings and ill treatment from a strange woman. The book starts out slowly but picks up the pace quickly as flashbacks reveal Nathan's backstory: his precarious position in society is a result of his mixed parentage, and their hatred for his father Marcus, who murdered many white witches, led to the council of white witches taking the boy from his home with his grandmother and half-siblings to a life as a prisoner. The racial overtones running throughout the novel and the ambiguity of Marcus' villainy, give Half Bad its complexity.
 While these characters inhabit a world that melds the paranormal with real life, the plot centers primarily on witchcraft, but surprisingly there are very few scenes that involve magic. Green shines her spotlight not on the paranormal, but rather on Nathan's character growth. Nathan's feelings of self-loathing that grow as a result of the ostracism he experiences from those around him, coupled with a yearning to know more about Marcus, will resonate with readers. We are able to understand his anguish and alienation, as well his desperation to search for a sense for identity and learn the truth about his father. While there are secondary characters that are interesting, they are a bit underdeveloped. Since Half Bad is the first book in a series, I'm hoping these characters are fleshed out more in the upcoming books. Fans of dark fantasy will find a lot to enjoy in this book and I'm really curious to see where Nathan's journey takes him.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and scenes of torture which can get a bit graphic. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Lumatere Chronicles by Melinda Marchetta, Abarat by Clive Barker
7 Responses
  1. I really liked this one too, although the reviews I've read a mixed. I'm looking forward to the next book. I liked the "ambiguity of Marcus' villainy" too. Great review.


  2. Jenny Says:

    So glad you enjoyed this one Rummanah! I really loved Nathan, and his relationship with his brother, but like you, hoped for a bit more from the secondary characters. I've got my fingers crossed that book two brings a little more depth to them, but I will definitely be picking it up! Lovely review:)


  3. Candace Says:

    I was curious about this one before but after reading a lot of negative reviews I had thought I would skip it. Now I'm thinking I might need to give it a try. I'll have to borrow a copy though cause I'm on the fence. Fortunately I know my friend Sara has a copy and the library likely has it as well.


  4. This is a book I can't get a read on. The reviews are so mixed. I think though that I would like the male narrator and the fact that he is a witch. I think I just need to jump in and give it a go.


  5. I haven’t liked most of the books I’ve read about witches but I think this one may be worth checking out, Rummanah, because you thought that it focused less on magic and more on character growth. I also like that the villain is a bit ambiguous.


  6. Oh what a great review! I was a little disappointed with the first round of reviews of this one. But your review gives me a clearer picture of what the book is about. Now I'm more happy about having this one sitting on my shelf. Thanks, Rummanah!


  7. Aylee Says:

    I'm VERY intrigued by your description of this one! It just sounds so unlike anything I've ever read before. I like how ambiguous and complex everything sounds, it's not black or white, which I guess is the point. And I'm curious how I would find the second person point of view! So yeah, I'll have to check this one out sometime. Great thoughts!!


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