Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy, #1
Release Date: March 4th 2014
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.