Half Bad


Title: Half Bad

Author: Sally Green

Series: The Half Bad Trilogy, #1

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: March 4th 2014


Four Stars

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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“The routine is the same as ever. And so is the cage. And so are the shackles. The choker is still on, loose but there. If I try to leave, I’ll die, no doubt about it.”

Nathan Byrn has been stuck in a cage for nearly two years now, simply for the crime of being born a Half Code; the son of a White Witch and one of the most notorious Black Witches currently living. His life is the same day in day out, full of training and chores and assessments, preparing him for the task of one day killing his father. Half Bad starts with Nathan in the cage before jumping back and telling the story of what led to him being trapped there.

Ever since he was born Nathan has been kept close under the ever watching eye of the council. Throughout his childhood several notification were released which severely limit his freedom and who he can be around, and on his birthday he would travel to the council and be assessed until they could assign him a designation of White or Black witch.

As a Half Code Nathan is an outcast, but as the son of Marcus Edge he is despised. He has to be very careful to never reveal how he really feels about his father, and where it is he travels to, but he’s not careful enough and one day the council issue another notification which puts Nathan in the care of Celia, his teacher and jailor, rather than his grandmother.

“Let’s suppose Marcus has threatened to kill a member of your family: Arran, say. The only way you can save Arran is by killing Marcus.”
“Let’s suppose something more realistic. The Council threatens a member of my family: Arran, say. The only way I can stop them killing Arran is by killing Marcus.”

Nathan is trained, broken down and built back up to be the council’s weapon they can unleash upon Marcus, but Nathan knows they will never be able to force his hand. As his seventeenth birthday fast approaches though Nathan knows he needs to escape. If he does not undergo his Giving ceremony, where he will receive three gifts and the blood of his ancestors to unlock his magical ability, he will die. However trying to escape from Celia’s with the collar still around his neck means certain death .

But when the council come back to claim him Nathan sees his opportunity; to escape, to undergo his Giving ceremony, and maybe reunite with his father.

…The Characters

“You aren’t evil, Nathan. Nothing about you is evil. You will have a powerful Gift –we can all see that –but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad.”

Nathan has lived his whole life knowing just how hated he is. His oldest sister throws it in his face at every opportunity, reminding him that their mother killed herself rather than live with the shame of having given birth to a Half Code, reminding him that other White Witches fear to even touch him. Nathan is a loner. He is beaten by White Witches, ignored by fains – the non-magic people of the world – and seen as more of a tool than a person by the council.

Despite all this though Nathan does have people who care about him. He’s close with his brother Arran, his other sister Deborah and his grandmother. All of whom love him and try their best to protect him from the world and the council, a job easier said than done when Nathan’s entire existence is a crime.

As half White Witch and half Black Witch Nathan’s story is a case of nature versus nurture. He has the potential to turn out either way, to be designated White or Black by the council, but most people choose to see only his father in him and believe that he will end up a monster. Facing the weight of that expectation every day is a huge strain on Nathan.

“…it’s the name of the most evil Black Witch there has ever been.”
I want to say “Marcus.” He’s my father and I want to say his name, but I’m too afraid. I’m always too afraid to say his name.

The relationship between Nathan and the people he loves is constantly heartbreaking. You can see that he truly cares for his grandmother, Arran and Deborah but at the same time he can’t be himself around them. He needs to play dumb and innocent for the council, and needs to play up his hatred for his father. What Nathan feels for his father though is anything but hatred. When he thinks of Marcus he has a child’s hope and ideology of his parent; for Nathan Marcus is someone who will swoop in and keep him safe from the world. Even trapped in the cage Nathan likes to imagine one day his father will come for him.

I’ll admit Half Bad was a little hard for me to get into at first. The first chapter was written in second person POV which was strange to read, and the sudden jump backwards to Nathan’s childhood was jarring, but I was very quickly drawn into the story. Half Bad started off slow but I was very quickly addicted.

What did you think of Half Bad? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

35 thoughts on “Half Bad

    1. It wasn’t on my shelf for that long but it has been on my immediate to-read list for the past few months, finally managed to get around to it myself and I’m pretty addicted! 😀
      It’s a good book and looking to be a better series so I hope you manage to get to it soon Lauren and that you really enjoy it! 🙂


  1. YAY! I was waiting to see what you thought of this one! 😀 I’m really glad that you liked it. And I completely agree that the alternating POVs and timeline jumps were a bit hard to follow, but the story was great. It’s so sad and my heart kept breaking for Nathan. His life is so messed up and his behavior is a product of his mistreatment. I can’t promise you that all will get better with time, but I can promise you that the story gets better. Can’t wait to read your reviews for the last two books! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was really good. I was a bit unsure to start with because of the time jumps and the second person POV but before long I was hooked on the story. 😀
      Oh everything Nathan’s character went through was heartbreaking especially when you knew things wouldn’t get better for him anytime soon. I’m hoping for a happy ending for him though how likely that is I have no clue.
      The story definitely got better with the second book and hopefully it will with the third as well. I can’t wait to carry on with this series. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard of this book before this review and I must say I’m surprised! Judging from the summary it sounds like one of those books that will be super popular, haha. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it – the world is super intriguing and I’m interested in the whole nature vs. nurture thing. I definitely have to check this out. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this book is quite popular but it was only recently I heard of it as well. I dunno maybe it’s popular on GR but not on WordPress so much. Who knows?
      Oh yeah it’s an amazing book, and if you can stick through the beginning, which was a little weird, I think you’ll really enjoy this book as well Reg. The nature vs. nurture thing was a big part of Nathan’s character and some of his actions towards the White witches. 🙂


  3. Nice review, Beth! I really liked Half Bad, but I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the trilogy yet. I thought Nathan’s character development through the book was really good and that the development of relationships between the family was also really interestingly done. You’re right though, the second person narrative is a bit odd to begin with and I think that was one of the reasons it took me a while to get into it, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sammie! 😀 I just finished Half Wild yesterday and honestly thought it was even better than Half Bad, so I’d recommend getting started on it as soon as you get a chance.
      The character development was one of my favourite parts of this book, and the reason I still rated it quite highly considering it took a while for the plot to get moving and was hard to get into at first. Nathan was a brilliant character but the second person POV and the massive time jump was a little jarring wasn’t it? I hope you carry on with this series soon and enjoy it as much as I am! 😀


  4. Lovely review, Beth, I am glad to hear you enjoyed this so much. It seems quite particular, and I think I’d have a hard time getting into the book just like you, from what you said with this second person perspective, at first.But the story seems interesting and I heard so many good things about this series, maybe I’ll have to try it out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie! ❤ Overall it was a good book it was just kind of hard to get into at first with the second person POV and then the time jump. Once I got past that, so by the 2nd/3rd chapter, it was kind of addictive.
      I hope if you do pick this one up you really end up enjoying it. The second book is even better so it's worth sticking around for Half Wild at least! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand, I can’t recall a book I read with second person POV and I think I’d feel strange reading a book like that as well, at first. But I’m so glad you enjoyed this so much, and to hear that the second book is even better encourages me to add this to my TBR 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad that you ended up enjoying this, Beth! It sounds really interesting, different from what I thought but that might be because I never really knew what it was about even though it’s on my TBR. I mean I knew it had a magical aspect but I didn’t know about all of the white witch/black witch stuff or that the main character is half. Although, with the title, it seems obvious now 😂. It seems to have a unique family aspect which I like. And the whole nature versus nurture thing is intriguing given that they fear him for what he has yet to become to the point of caging him. In a way, they could be feeding resentment and push him to become what they fear rather than be positive (or accepting) and possibly solidify his outcome as becoming what they hope. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into that haha. Either way, I will definitely have to finally move this up my TBR and give it a read. Great review as always! 💕😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a good book, definitely interesting and definitely different from anything else I’ve read which gives it a lot of points in my book for being a unique story with a unique concept. Honestly I never thought about what it would be either, and the blurb doesn’t give anything away, and don’t worry because I didn’t realise Nathan was half Black and half White witch until it was mentioned in the book so I guess you can say you have a bit of a head start on me there! 😀
      The story started off slow but everything was well done, the relationships Nathan has with his family and the whole nature/nurture thing. It was really interesting to read and a lot of the time I kind of forget the plot was slow to begin with you know? It does seem in a lot of ways the things Nathan does are simply him reacting to other people, their opinions and the way they act around him; self defence more than him being an evil Black witch so I get what you mean.
      Ohh that’s great to hear. I really hope you enjoy this series then Melissa, and thanks! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It definitely sounds like a unique story. No wonder so many people were mentioning it back when it first published. I know we’ve talked about slow books and being engaging because of RoseBlood but this one does seem to have that same quality. Even though it starts off slow it doesn’t really matter given all of the interesting things being revealed or the intrigue of it. Which I love in slower readers. There are so many series I want to binge this year and I think this one is right up there with ADSOM at the moment because I’m interested in how the world works and the characters.
        I hope I do too and you’re welcome, Beth! 😊♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I’ve not read anything like Half Bad before, and I reckon it will be a while until I read anything like it again. Exactly, I don’t mind books that have a slow start as long as there is something there to engage the audience, Half Bad had it and hopefully when I get around to RoseBlood that will have had it as well. ADSOM is another series that starts off slow but the development of the world and the characters is more than worth sticking around for because it’s incredible in that book. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review! I recently got this book and have been excited to start it, thanks for the heads up on the slow start because I’m usually not patient with that sort of thing. Definitely glad to hear it’s worth pushing through though! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Heather, I hope you enjoy Half Bad when you start it. You never know you may see the start of the this book a different way to me and really enjoy it. The second book is a lot more action-packed so I’d still recommend that one even if you don’t enjoy Half Bad that much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well what I’ve read so far I really enjoyed, I just have Half Lost to go and hopefully that’s just as amazing as well! 😀
      Oh yes Nathan was a brilliant character to read, and the development of his character through both this book and Half Wild has been wonderfully written.


      1. If you like the second one, you’ll love the last! My only disappointment is that I find it too fast paced, but that is merely my preference 😛

        Liked by 1 person

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