Monday, August 11, 2014

Books on Trial: Half Bad by Sally Green

Books on Trial is a method of reviewing where I decide if books I've read recently are guilty or innocent of the "charges" laid against them by other reviewers, aka the "witnesses". This week's case is for...

Hardcover, 398 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Toronto Public Library

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.


The "witness testimonies" are from the top three opinions on Goodreads as of the posting date. The reviews have earned their position based on number of likes. The "testimonies" are:

As well as a very realistic story about a boy growing up, it's also a fast-paced, vicious, gruesome page-turner. It's not a small book but once I found time to sit down and read it, I was mesmerised until I finished it late last night. My friend practically had to drag me away to go see 12 Years a Slave, even though I'd been looking forward to it for ages.

-Emily May

This book is Snape: The Teenage Years. Only without much magic. WHERE'S MY MOTHERFUCKING MAGIC? Is it too much to ask for magic in a book about WITCHES?! If I'm going to read Dracula, I want some fucking vampires, and I want them to suck the bloody hell out of some humans. If I'm going to read about witches, I want some fucking hocus pocus shit, ok?

-Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)

Half Bad started as a 5-star read for me. This lasted 'til about three quarters which is when I realized we really hadn't gotten anywhere in the story. Boredom quickly followed, until I was unfortunately underwhelmed by the anticlimactic ending. Nevertheless, it's an incredibly well written book that has a lot to offer if you have a bit of patience, although it's unique in a way that may not adhere to all tastes. 


I'd heard a lot about this book, but nothing specifically good or bad. In retrospect, that sums up my feelings about Half Bad.

Half Bad was a fascinating story about a young, male witch alienated from the rest of his kind because of his parentage. A majority of Half Bad focused on how Nathan came to be imprisoned in the cage where readers first meet him in Part One. The remainder told of his escape and search for a person who could give him the three gifts he needed to unlock his witch-y power.

The entirety of Half Bad seemed like set-up for events to come. It was interesting set-up, though, so that's not a bad thing. The world Nathan lives in is detailed, and the injustice he's suffered because of the way he was born makes me want to punch a whole lot of people. There wasn't much magic in the book, though. I didn't realize how odd that was until hearing what the "witnesses" had to say. Despite the variance in opinions, each "witness" told the truth. I therefore find Half Bad guilty as charged.
I'll definitely check in for the sequel, despite the romantic interest, Annaliese (who I don't like), the few chapters in second person ("You walk up the stairs..." No, I'm lying here eating popcorn!), and the non-linear story telling (I have minor OCD). Hopefully, the next book doesn't flash around in time.

Would I recommend this book?

Would I re-read it? Probably not

Would I read a sequel? Yes

Next week... I'll be reviewing Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead