My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
Okay, let me make it clear this is actually more like a 3.5 maybe even a 3.75 if I could get really into the nitty gritty, but for the sake of goodreads it is going to get a 3.
Half Bad is a straight forward tale of a boy with potential for darkness as he went through a hellish life. Nathan, a young witch of the unheard pairing of a White Witch and a Black Witch, is treated more as a troublesome object than as a person. From an early age, Nathan is bitter, hateful, and oh so very confused about his entire life and where he really belongs. He’s a half code and that leaves him no place. Alone and misunderstood, Nathan struggles to discover who he really is.
Half Bad is the kind of story that keeps you captivated as things just never seem to go right for Nathan. You want him to find happiness, whether that is with the White Witches or the Dark Witches, but it’s clear that it’s going to be complicated. Nathan’s complex emotions will keep you reading, just because you want to see how he will develop from a child to his giving. You want to know where he will end up falling.
I’ll be honest, there’s a large section as the book opens told in Second Person. You don’t encounter Second Person all that often in stories. This is because it’s a difficult voice to nail and keep you in the story. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me here. That opening section was so long it had me almost regretting buying the book and reading it. I wanted to put it down because the Second Person distanced me and took me almost entirely out of the story rather than dragging me in. It’s meant to make you feel like you are in Nathan’s shoes, but he’s so angsty and angry that it was hard to relate. Because it was how the book opened, I had no sense of context as to why “I’d” be acting out so badly. I am glad that I held out because once it switched to first person I was drawn in. There was a period of regaining my trust, but it didn’t take long before I was along for the journey. Which was why the brief appearance of Second Person later in the novel, scared me. I’d thought I left it all behind and it was back. Thankfully, not for long.
Nathan is a difficult character. He’s moody. He’s broody. Even for an eight year old he was rather temperamental. However it worked. He was picked on by his eldest sister. He was constantly getting restrictions no one else had put on him. His mother was dead. His father had never seen him or contacted him. Nathan, simply put was interesting. As he grew up he became more independent more in tuned with himself. The darker thoughts he had felt more natural and rational. Slowly Nathan became this tortured soul that you wanted to find happiness. As he transitioned from a world of White Witches to a world of Black Witches it was striking to see how much of a half code he really was. Among the White Witches he was volatile. Among the Black Witches he was docile. All the while Nathan was proving that he may have the capacity for darkness, but he was a good person. It was beautiful to see how he could be a good person even with dark urges.
Speaking of the White Witches and Black Witches. They are all pretty awful. We keep seeing that the White Witches are pure, but they are bonafide terrible people. They are willing to manipulate their own for their own needs. They relish the hunt the kill, claiming righteousness. In many ways they are more terrifying than the Black Witches. This holds true even after we meet some Black Witches finally. That isn’t to say the Black Witches aren’t terrible in their own way. However, as of the end of the novel, they are more mysterious and potentially dangerous than anything. No matter how you look at it, neither Black or White Witches are particularly the most trustworthy.
I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite character in the novel. he didn’t arrive until near the end of the story, but I was instantly enamored with Gabriel. A black witch who was transformed into a fain. I won’t say much about him, so that others can enjoy him as well, but it’s hard not to like him. There is one moment that feels out of character for him, but considering the situation I let it slide.
The ending of the novel is certain to piss some people off. After the journey we went through Nathan finally received the one thing he was clamoring for the entire novel. He got his three gifts. However, the entire rest of it could be considered one massive cliffhanger. We never learn what Nathan’s gift is. We end with two characters in serious danger and Nathan going to save one of them. We end with Nathan being hunted by at least one group, potentially two. It very much feels like the beginning of his journey rather than the end of one phase of his life. So no, there was no closure to this book, only more questions. That however, didn’t stop me from coming to love the story I was given.
All I can say is I can’t wait to get my hands on Half Wild.