Friday, 20 February 2015

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green (Half Bad #1)

Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

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?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

My Review:
I just do not get the hype over this book at all. It was a grim depressing read with a lot of angst and very little in the way of plot or character development.

The plot. What plot? It is so slow that it feels as if it is moving backwards! We have pretty much everyone hating Nathan because he is half white/half black witch and so he is locked up, abused and tortured for his parentage. Nathan's older sister hates him and blames him for his mother's death. He is bullied at school. Society hates him. Cue many pages of beatings, violence and humiliations and on and on and on. Did I mention that everyone hates him? Oh yeah, thought I did. We get long winded descriptions of the horrible life of Nathan with some more pointless violence thrown in for good measure. This was just a very grim, dark and dull piece of writing. There is the vague mention of a plan to go and find his father but that is as far as it got before I abandoned it. The plot just seems to be 'hurt Nathan some more' with no real point to it that I can see. Nothing really happens and that bugged me senseless!

And then we have the damn instaluv thrown in for good measure, because hey, if YA readers pick this up there MUST be some kind of romance to please the girlies. Ugh. The romance was lacking in interest and felt pointless, just shoved in there for the sake of it.

The world building is sadly lacking on every level. We are told that it is modern day England but there is only a vague attempt to set the scene. It could have been set anywhere really. We get the odd British word thrown in here and there and that's about it. Yet we get descriptions of things that add nothing to the plot. And where is the magic? In all of the book that I read, we are told about magic and this war between the witches but where is it? The few ideas that are there, as another reviewer pointed out, are lifted from the world of Harry Potter as opposed to being fresh and exciting world building by the author. Sadly, this is not Harry Potter standard reading material.

Nathan as a character had the personality of a plank of wood. There was no emotion or interest about him which makes it difficult to have any empathy with him or his situation. I found him bland and one dimensional. And if Nathan is half blood, how do they know that he is going to become black like his father? By treating him so badly they are turning him against white witches when there was no real evidence of him being bad. We don't get much about black witches just 'they're evil' so there is no real backstory to why Nathan is being badly treated. It's all a bit half assed and lacking cohesion.I can't say that I saw redeeming features in the other characters that we start to meet. They all feel a bit like talking cardboard cutouts. Annalise is just a dreadful character with no purpose.

The way the book was put together was really strange as well. Chapter two has 6 lines in it. Chapter three is set out in a weird formation. The narrator refers to himself as 'You' which I found really annoying. Nathan is not well educated, which is fine for the plot but I HATE when the author decides to show us that the character can't spell or write properly by having his version of the words on the page. I dislike this greatly and find it offputting to stop and try to work out what the heck he is rambling on about. The whole style of writing just falls flat for me and it did not catch my interest in any way. The sentence structure is really bad and the book is poorly constructed.

I don't get the hype of this book at all. I've seen all the reviews here praising it but I'm just not seeing anything in this book worth getting excited about. There is never a right or wrong opinion about a book, only opinion, and mine was just not favourable. This was one of the most disappointing books that I read in 2014 and I won't be reading anything from this author again.
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