Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blog Tour: Half Bad by Sally Green Review and Giveaway!

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green
Release date: March 4th, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin)
Series: #1 in the Half Life trilogy
Source: Print ARC from the publisher
Rating: Ambitious, intriguing, a bit overlong, but ultimately satisfying.

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.

This is definitely one of those books that is going for something. It is full of effort and ambition and, occasionally, genius.We first meet Nathan as he's being held captive in a cage. We also meet him, inexplicably, in second person, which thankfully only lasts for a fraction of the narrative. Then we flash backwards and learn about Nathan's life, the world of White and Black Witches, and how it is he found himself shackled and beaten in a cage.

 Nathan is half White Witch, half Black Witch, and that is no bueno for Nathan. The White Witches reign supreme in England. Blacks are hunted and killed, and Nathan's life is highly regulated. His brother, sister, and gran love him, but he is treated with extreme cruelty and prejudice from nearly everybody else in his life. Nathan's pain is palpable and his circumstances are dire. Green does a great job of depicting the mindset and world of the White Witches (even it it's kind of uncomfortable at times, because of the weird racial undertones).

I thought the first chunk, leading up to Nathan being imprisoned in a cage, was too slow. It was the important part, I know, wherein we got to feel for Nathan, love his family, and be inculcated with the desire to punch those mean White Witches on the nose for being so beastly. SeriouslyOver the entire novel, actually, the pacing is far too slow and the plot is far too loose. A less focused reader may lose patience and not stick it out to find the goods, and there are goods.

Nathan is moody and strong and full of anger, and yet he wants to trust and love people. (He probably trusts too easily, truth be told). His "romance" with sweet, blond Annalise, a pure White Witch, is not so interesting, but THERE IS A SECOND SHIP that I did not see coming and changed the entire game for me. Team Gabriel for the win! Oh, yes, you heard that right. Surprise gay ship = Gillian's happy place.

Besides Gabriel, other character standouts include Bob, the psychic, sensitive artist who also probably has a crush on Nathan, Celia, Nathan's surprisingly complicated captor, and Jessica, Nathan's positively heinous older sister. The Council, aka the big bads (maybe? Maybe it's Marcus, Nathan's father? Maybe it's Mercury? maybe it's even Nathan himself, along the line?) are appropriately cruel. While I wasn't thrilled with the format of the plot--it's mostly Nathan going from place to place, following loose instructions, taking way too long,and the ending isn't as grand as it could be-- there is still a lot of good, mostly in Nathan's sense of humor, his bonds with his family and the father he's never met, and the way he never gives up.

I very much enjoyed the witch-lore present in Half Bad, which is less Harry Potter and more classic British pagan folklore. Plus, I have a feeling Green's skills will only grow. Seriously, the book would have been stunning with some pacing and plotting techniques. I actually enjoyed the style of the prose, though it took me a while to acclimate to it, and I've got really high hopes for book two (AND GABRIEL) (NEEDS MORE GABRIEL) (TEAM GABRIEL).

About the author:

Sally Green lives in Warrington, England with her husband and son. Having decided not to return to her successful career in finance, she is currently studying for a BA in Literature with Creative Writing with the Open University. Her spare time is spent hill walking in Wales and drinking too much coffee.

PenguinTeen has very graciously volunteered to give away a finished copy of Half Bad to one lucky blog reader! Just wait until you see how shiny and shimmery this thing is in person. (You don't want to know how long it took me to see the face in the cover.) US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I have been back and forth on wanting to read this since friends started reviewing it.
    As much as I usually shake my fist at your nonstar rating system for its cleverness, it's very helpful. I think I'd like this book (a lot of what you enjoyed would be the same -- esp. SUPRISE GAY SHIP) but I may wait for a paperback.

    That said, PAGAN FOLKLORE FTW. If I can't have Harry Potter: The Later Years or The Marauders at Hogwarts, that is a good substitute.

  2. The first thing that drew me to the book is the cover, love it. I haven't had a lot of luck with witch books so I'm always searching for one that will appeal to me.

  3. I think it would be a great book to read and I love the cover of the book!!!

  4. It had me at the first paragraph, honestly. I love that you post reviews honestly and without stars but with all the enjoyed it, I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it, too!

  5. I'm looking forward to this no matter what the reviews say:-) and I do appreciate your detailed review. Awesome giveaway, thanks so much!

  6. I think this sounds like a great concept! I love futuristic, supernatural books!

  7. I have been waiting patiently long enough! . . . Okay, so maybe I've been waiting pretty impatiently for this book:p I love all sorts of witchcraft novels--whether it be Harry Potter (which I love more than any other story) or the more traditional paganism, I'm all for it;)

  8. I think this book is going to be good!!! I can't wait to read it!!!

  9. Have yall seen that Half Bad has an amazing looking Cinematic Book Trailer?? *excitement*

  10. I saw this book at the bookstore yesterday for the first time and was super intrigued. And now after reading your review, I'm even more intrigued! If that's possible. It's been added to my to-read list!

  11. LOVE how it's harsh and puts everyone in question in terms of their ethics, regardless of Black or White.

    Lovely review :)

    Thank you:)

  12. I was kind of waffling on this until you mentioned the surprise gay ship (which I guess isn't a surprise anymore :P). Hell. Yes.

  13. (This is Darith L.)

    It sounds so good and the cover is just awesome! :D

  14. I've loved reading updates about this book, and definitely want to read it sometime soon!

  15. I definitely think this book could have used a couple of good stiff edits, structurally and line-by-line, and there were a few moments when I rolled my eyes at inconsistencies, but I still sped through it somehow. Surprise gay ship is always my fave, but I've seen a lot of theories about what Green seems to be doing with Gabriel's character (who at the moment is a lovable, positive normal queer character) and now I'm SO WORRIED.

  16. (I guarantee you that it took me longer to see the face on the cover)(srly, like months staring at reviews of this book and only when I saw it on person I got it)(and them I felt like a fool since everyone was talking about how gorgeous this cover was and I thought I got it but yeah)


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