Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 27th 2014
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
“But the more store you set in visions the more they have a habit of coming true.”
Nathan lives his life in a cage. As the son of a white and black witch, he is considered an abomination. He needs to find his father if he is to receive his gift and survive his seventeenth birthday. With white witches hunting him and no one to trust, Nathan has to search for help in darker places.
Half Bad takes witches and magic from whimsical into an edgy and gritty setting. There is very little magic used in the first book so it feels less like a fantasy and more like an allegory for race relations that just switched skin to witches. Although with more magic and whimsy it could still be a stunning allegory while actually being as thrilling as it should have been.
The downfall is the characters. They all seem sort of flat and stagnant. Either nice or not nice. Nathan’s sister is terrible to him past the point of regular sibling rivalry and that thread is barely explored. A lot of witches are evil just because they love being cruel and seem to have very few motivations. Nathan himself is a bland character who has little dialogue and trouble deciding if he’s a violent killer or a boy trying to do his best. Though the latter might be explained by his dual heritage.
The romance feels largely useless. It serves the plot very little and Annalise doesn’t have a character other than hot and interested in the protagonist. The romance could have been introduced more effectively later in the trilogy but as it is the romance feels totally out of place in the plotline.
The plot alternates between a fast and slow pace. There are exciting parts and parts that felt incredibly tedious. The o[pening chapter used second person while not actually referring to the reader which was unpleasant. The whole novel is building up to Nathan’s “Giving” which ends up being sort of a flop. For all the build-up it got it wasn’t even a remotely exciting event.
Half Bad wasn’t an entirely unenjoyable story but it feels too much like the filler before the adventure. If I read a book about witches, I want magic full stop and Half Bad simply did not deliver.