The trick is not to mind. Not about it hurting, not mind about anything.
I first picked up Half Bad by Sally Green immediately following its release; I loved the concept of the book. I bought it and started reading it, but it didn’t keep me interested. I returned it. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of praise for Half Bad, so I decided to give it another chance. Did I like it this time around?
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?
Alas, I did not. I wasn’t impressed at all by this book, and it really boils down to one reason: nothing happened.
Yes of course, things happened, so what I really mean by that is that for the vast majority of the book, nothing happens to further the present plot at hand. By “present plot” I mean Nathan’s quest to find his father, and I say present plot because a huge chunk of this story was dedicated to something else entirely, something that was mostly background information. These 100+ pages could have been whittled down into flashbacks or presented through dialogue; they could have even made up a prequel-type novella. I really couldn’t understand why it was so necessary to have it, when it wasn’t essential to understanding the present plot. Because of those 100+ pages of time suck, I felt like nothing was happening to push the present plot forward.
Reading the description, I expected this book to be about Nathan finding his father and facing obstacles from those hunting him down, his family, and of course, “the girl he loves,” Annalise. However, much of this isn’t present. After the first ~100 pages, his family pretty much disappears from the entire book – they don’t even play much of a role in the present plot: Nathan finding his father; the same thing goes for Annalise. Even the people hunting him aren’t seen all that much, which was disappointing and confusing due to their supposed elite and near unsurpassable skills.
I was also very disappointed with the pace of the novel. As soon as I thought things were happening…they weren’t. There were times when I could tell that I was supposed to be excited and anxious and gripping the edge of my rocking chair, but I was just not feeling it. At that point I was already dissatisfied with the book, which probably contributed to my lack of caring.
At certain points in the beginning, the POV switches in chapters from first person to second person. I hated this. The second person “you” was weird; I felt like I was fighting between projecting myself into the novel through the use of the “you” and knowing it was another person, and simultaneously trying to see that picture. I just couldn’t reconcile the two.
The one bright spot for me were the characters. I really enjoyed the different personalities we got to see. I particularly liked Nathan, Rose, and Bob. I loved Arran. Unfortunately I’m not sure how much we’ll get to see of those characters in the future. All the characters, though, were likeable, interesting and developed.
Overall, I really wasn’t happy with Half Bad. I expected a lot more from it, not only from other reviews, but from the description of the book itself. I wouldn’t recommend this book to others, unfortunately, and I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the series.