Written by: Sally Green
Publication Info: 2014, Viking
One Line: Nathan is 16-years-old and lives in modern England, but he has a secret: the world is full of witches who are at war with each other, and Nathan is the son of the most feared of them all.
Brief Plot Summary: Nathan is a 16-year-old boy who is living in a cage, abused by the woman who is holding him hostage and training him to kill. How did he get there? It is a long story, one that takes place in an alternate England, in which witches coexist with humans, and white witches are “good” and black witches “bad.” When witches turn 17, they are given three gifts by an older witch and come into their powers. Nathan is a half-code, meaning he is half black witch, half white witch, and no one knows if he will turn out bad or good. Not only that, but his mother died when he was a baby, and even members of his family (his older sister) ostracize him. He lives with the uncertainty of
Thought: Green has written a great, page-turning first novel in Half Bad. By starting out in second person, she sets the stage and the mood quickly in the beginning, with Nathan in the cage, and we learn immediately that Nathan is strong and defiant. We are instantly curious about how he got there and what is going on. When Green takes us back to Nathan’s past (and to first person narration) and we meet a weaker version of him, we know we are in for a wild ride as he becomes the teenager from the opening. This characterization of Nathan is excellent, as is the characterization of his evil sister and his loving brother. His sister Jessica’s ability to shapeshift certainly foreshadows events in the future, as does her love for all things “white witch,” but not in a way that we know exactly what is going to happen. The same is true with Annalise, his love interest, and Green does well setting up for future conflicts. And what conflicts they will be: this is a world in which various witches truly hate each other, and many think that Nathan is going to grow up to be evil like his father, who is shrouded in mystery for much of the book. The book moves at a clip, with short, titled chapters (which seems to be the rage) and through beautiful locations, such as the countryside of Wales, London, and the Alps. The ending sets the stage for a sequel, but one that will be highly anticipated, as there are still many things left to learn about Green’s world.
Author Information: From www.halfbadworld.com.us: “Sally Green lives in north-west England. She has had various jobs and even a profession, but in 2010 she discovered a love of writing and now just can’t stop. She used to keep chickens, makes decent jam, doesn't mind ironing, loves to walk in Wales even when it's raining, and will probably never jog again. She really ought to drink less coffee. Half Bad is her first novel.”