Published by: Viking Books for Young Readers
Published on: March 4, 2014
Half Bad is an urban fantasy set in England, where witches exist and they are divided between good and bad. White witches are good and black witches are bad. Nathan, our main character happens to be both, which is unheard of and because he is half white and half black he is under constant scrutiny from the council of white witches. Not only is he half black but his father, Marcus, happens to be the most feared black witches of all.
The council wants to use Nathan against his father so they take him from his family and take him to an unknown location keep him caged. In this world witches don’t get their powers until they turn 17 and are given three gifts from a family member. Nathan’s 17th birthday is fast approaching, he must escape and receive his gifts or that might be the end of him.
I was expecting to like Half Bad more than I did. I usually love anything about witches. I thought it was OK. It was quite the whirlwind of a book. You feel sorry for Nathan, he is just a kid and they way he is treated because he is a half black witch is just awful. The council of white witches sends his Grandma letters on restrictions that he has to abide by and he is evaluated every year to determine if he is more of a white witch or black witch. One year while being evaluated they take him from his grandma and she can’t do anything about it. He was only a kid when he is taken from his Grandma and half siblings to be locked up in a cage and tortured. It was quite disturbing to read about.
I didn’t understand why the author chose to make Nathan illiterate and dumbs him down. The book is set in the present day and he did go to school and has help from his sister, Deborah but he can hardly write or read. Even when he was taken away his capture was trying to teach him to read and write. I just didn’t care for that kind of characterization and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
The writing style I found to be off-putting in some parts the book is written in second person narrative and then in other parts it is written in first person. I did not enjoy the second person parts at all. I think it may have been the authors way of putting you in the shoes of Nathan. It just failed to connect with me. When the story is being told in first person, it wasn’t very descriptive so you didn’t get a good sense of the world even though it is set in present day. It is a fantasy so it is a different world than ours and as such should have been better world building.
The giving ceremony was an interesting concept, I very much in enjoyed that part of story. Even though they are born witches they aren’t born with their powers. They are given their powers through a giving ceremony at the age of 17. At the ceremony a member of the family gives you three gifts and says some words and then you will be able to receive your powers. It may take a while for you powers to be revealed to you and are usually a characteristic of yourself and the strength of your powers differs for each witch.
I also like that Nathan had a good relationship with his Grandma and his two half siblings, Debroah and Arran, when the author Sally Green could so easily have given him a terrible home life. Well, I guess his home life wasn’t perfect since his one sister Jessica, was cruel to him but his other siblings were caring and loving towards him.
I am not too sure what I was expecting from this book but I thought it was going to be different. I will continue with the series as I do own the second one already and it wasn’t terrible. Hopefully, I will like the second one better. I gave this 3 out of 5 stars.