Series: The Half Bad Trilogy
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Penguin Early Review Program for review
A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-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 sixteenth 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?
In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.
I was so excited to have been chosen to read this book early. There was so much hype over it and I could not wait, a book about witches, good vs. evil, and a kid in a cage?! Come on, that has awesome written all over it (no pun intended) and I flew through the beginning of the story. Nathan, our main character, is telling the story of ostracized witches through his own story of survival. We are told the story from Nathan's POV and also in 2nd person POV, which was a very interesting choice, but a very cool experience. At times this was a difficult read, there are a lot of overtones of racism and cruelty. The plot was beautifully done though, Green really builds this world of segregation and makes you really think about who is good and evil, there really isn't a clear line. Those that are dubbed evil have redeeming qualities, while those who are expected to do good are scheming and mean.
Nathan is such a resourceful character, and it is refreshing that we have a male lead in a Young Adult book. Other characters are just as strong as well. Although some were maddening when it came to the plot, you cannot help but have a love/hate relationship with them. Added to the intense plot themes this book was wonderful. However, due to the amount of backstory and world building required to explain this world of witches and their idiosyncrasies put a bit of a damper on the plot here and there. The book is divided into six sections, the first two, as I mentioned, I flew through, after that though it was hard to read quickly. Sections three through about five were a little slow moving; important to the overall plot but running, hiding, and surviving can only be so exciting for so long. About half way through part five and through the end, I again flew through the pages. AND THEN it leaves the reader on the edge of their seat to wait for the following book! Arg! I cannot wait to read the next installment of this world.
So here are the overall pros and cons of this book. I loved the characters, the world, and the overall plot theme. I did not always like the pacing of the book - sometimes it was just too slow, but I cannot be too picky about that because it does lend a hand to that awesome world building that I loved! Oh the mixed feelings, so this is why it only got 4 stars. I really wanted to give it 5...