I’m in two minds about this one.
On the one hand, the book was good enough to keep me reading until the end and it made me want to go out and buy the sequel, and it’s been a while since that happened. On the other hand…it’s been called the next Harry Potter, and I’ve got to say I disagree. Strongly.
It was compelling but not quite that good.
It’s about a sixteen-year-old boy called Nathan, and it’s a modern-witch story, and it was actually fairly interesting. I was cautious after hearing my friend say, “It’s not Half Bad, it’s all bad,” but it turned out to be okay.
Bad jokes aside…Nathan is basically half-white witch, half-black witch in a story world where white witches are good and black witches are evil. Nathan’s dad is basically the black witch, like, a crazy mass-murderer who incidentally went on to become my favorite character in the story, and Nathan’s being raised by his grandmother and living with his half-siblings. The first two-thirds of the book are quite boring: Nathan being a kid, Nathan being in a cage, Nathan with Annalise, his bland, goody-white-witch, intelligent-and-blonde love interest. Oh, how I loathed her and her lack of actual personality.
The last third was a lot better. There was Gabriel, my second favorite character – he’s literally just the greatest, I loved him. The whole Mercury plot line could have been a little stronger, since I felt Nathan had to chase about a billion more people than necessary to find her and her actual character turned out to be flat and anticlimactic.
It was in the present tense, mostly first person: I liked that about it, though I know lots of people don’t. A little bit was in second person…this has the potential to be a disaster if it’s not written properly, but I think it was done okay. Not spectacularly but not a train wreck.
I think that actually sums up the whole book, honestly: not spectacular, not a train wreck. Could be better, could be worse. It seemed to be aimed at like 12/13-year-olds – my mom actually bought it for my little brother to read – but I was fine reading it; and it was overall a pretty okay read. I read the sequel and I think the slight dull tone to this book is worth it, since the sequel is a dramatic improvement!
Author’s official book site
Half Bad WIKI site
The Guardian coverage of Half Bad
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