Half Bad by Sally Green

Posted December 10, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Half Bad

Half Bad

by Sally Green

Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #1
Publisher: Viking Books on March 4, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?


I’ve heard a lot of good things about Half Bad and Sally Green’s writing in general, but if I’m being perfectly honest, this novel was a bit of a struggle for me.  The world she was building, and Nathan’s story itself – all that was fine and lovely and well built and fascinating.  It’s not the story I struggle with, but the speed of the story.

The format of this story is steady,  but slow.  It started well, in the. Idle of Nathan’s captivity, but then we go full stop and rewind to Nathan’s early childhood and work our way back up to that moment.  While Green uses this time to create the world and establish the rules and to better understand the political atmosphere between the white witches and black witches, there never seems to be a change in pace.  This is a constant problem for me in this novel – even when things feel like they should be heating up, they just… don’t.

I think that may be partially the writing style.  It’s in first person present and that’s a bit of an uncommon tense and definitely took me through a loop.  Maybe things feel dull because Nathan’s perception is calm and level.  Additionally, this could have been a side effect from the narration.  I never really felt like the narration was poorly done – the voice seemed to fit Nathan, but it’s possible the pacing may have read better to me if it had been my own perception of Nathan’s voice, so that’s a possibility.

The world itself is gruesome. There’s a lot of blood and bone and death and horror if you stop and pay attention to the words, to the language used.  The world really is interesting, with edges of real history sliding into just the right places to make me uncomfortable.  I see the early edges of Nazi Germany in the way the council treats half-codes and that in itself is interesting enough for me.

So while I struggled through the pace of the book, and the characters held nothing special for me, I do appreciate the political climate Green has set forth.  At the end of Half Bad, we have experienced so much of Nathan’s backstory and the present – where the true story lies – is just beginning so I think I will stick around for book two… on a purely probationary basis.  I’m curious where things are heading and how they will work out, but I’m not in love with the characters or the story… yet.


Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★ 1/2
Overall: ★★★


How do you feel about slow-paced books?  I have mixed feelings about them, and the writing style and world building really needs to grab me or I get bored.  What slow-paced books have kept your attention?

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