Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

half bad

Half Bad by Sally Green

I always approach fantasies that are supposed to be the “Next Big Thing” with a lot of caution.  But this one is a wonderful surprise.  Nathan lives in a cage outside of the house where the woman paid to keep him lives.  He is let out of his shackles at dawn, forced to run for miles, train in combat, and kept close to home by wristbands filled with acid that will detonate if he goes too far.  Nathan is a witch.  But that is not why he is in a cage.  He is in a cage because he is a mix of white witch and black witch and worse, he is the son of the most notorious black witch of all time.  The white witches who keep Nathan imprisoned are training him to kill his father.  Through a series of flashbacks, Nathan’s childhood and the abuse he suffers from the white witches is exposed.  The question quickly becomes who the bad guys really are and how Nathan can survive in a world where no one trusts half of him.

Set in an alternative England where witches are real and in a constant battle for power, Nathan is trapped not just in a cage but also in between the two powerful factions.  The writing here is wonderfully clean and clear, even when it turns to violence which it does often.  Thanks to the quality of the writing, the moral questions shine on the page, clearly linking this witch world to the various moral questions at play in our own world.  Yet this does not become overbearing at all, since the world is compellingly built.

The characters are also well done.  While the “white” and “black” labels designate the factions, the question of good and evil goes much deeper.  Nathan is an exceptional protagonist.  He is complex and both in his character and the world, nothing is simple.  As he learns the truth about his parents, his family and himself, his reactions are honest, violent and superbly done.

This book is worthy of all of the fanfare it has received, but the reason to read it is to enter the violent world of witches where everyone is at least half bad.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I hope you find interesting:


Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 Edition – The Horn Book #kidlit

Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Spring Prediction Edition — @fuseeight A Fuse #8 Production #kidlit

Stacked: Girls Kicking Ass With Their Brains: Guest Post by Sarah Stevenson #kidlit

Your Kids Love ‘Cosmos.’ Keep Them Interested in Science With These Books. – Tablet Magazine #kidlit


Judge Rules for HarperCollins in Open Road E-Book Dispute #ebooks

People Who Use E-Readers Dive Far Deeper Into Books | Underwire #ebooks

Makerspaces in Libraries | Education | Learnist - Scroll through for some interesting articles on makerspaces


Libraries designed without old-fashioned books, for new-fashioned readers #libraries

Who Says Libraries Are Going Extinct? – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society #libraries


Darren Shan: "I wanted to write about racism in the UK – zombies seemed like a good way to do that." #yalit

DIVERGENT: Early Reviews Not Promising » EarlyWord – #yalit

Is The "Young Adult" Boom Dwindling In Books As Well As Movies? #yalit

LGBTQ-Friendly YA Novels Get Award Nods, But Are They Getting a Crossover Audience? | Bustle #yalit

The Maze Runner unveils first teaser poster – Movies News – Digital Spy #yalit

Nancy Pearl Interviews: Laurie Halse Anderson » EarlyWord #yalit

‘Rango’ Scribe To Pen Paramount’s Miley Cyrus Project ‘Wake’ #yalit

Toxic Relationships in Teen TV and YA Novels – Flavorwire #yalit

‘Uglies’ Author Westerfeld Shines a Light on the Publishing Industry for Next YA Novel #yalit