Review of Half Bad by Sally Green

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)Half Bad
By: Sally Green
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: Borrowed from a friend. Thank you Kelly!

My Rating:

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

The Story:
Half Bad started off very well with a well written and fascinating story which included impressive witch-lore and world building. I felt that Green created a familiar yet unique take on good (White) and bad (Black) witches. I loved how she represented the internal division and hatred the sides felt towards one another and could see myself being continually interested in this plot line. I felt that the world building was solid and can tell there are many more details to be revealed in later novels.

The writing was strong and the story tightly woven in the beginning, sadly the threads seemed to loosen and the writing muddled as I neared the end. I felt that some of this was explained by Nathan’s mental state but it didn’t create the best or most absorbing reading experience. I felt inclined to skim over entire sections and found myself yearning for the book’s resolution. Never a good thing when you’re feeling like that with a third of the book left to go.

The Characters:
It was easy for me to empathize with Nathan and feel for him as a boy and as he aged through the story. I felt that Green did a great job of creating a well rounded character that was not wholesome nor evil but perfectly in the grey. I was never sure which path Nathan would take and I enjoyed the unpredictability of his actions. I think it was also a nice touch to show some of Nathan’s earliest memories. It helped me sympathize with him even deeper thinking of him as an unloved little boy. Having a son myself I found I wanted to wrap him in a hug.

The secondary cast was less clarified but I still feel that they played their roles well (for the most part). I feel that we’ll be seeing more of them in the next novels and I look forward to seeing some of their story lines materialize. There is a semblance of a romance in Half Bad but I felt it wasn’t fully developed. It never went beyond a school boy crush and yearning for a fantasy to me. The love interest was as flat as could be and really had zero personality. I felt to some degree this fit the story just because as Nathan we aren’t privy to who she was really, just what he saw and wanted her to be. I hope that in the next book some page time is focused on developing her beyond the pretty girl.

Final Thoughts:
Even given the uneven pacing and lackluster ending I still felt that the world and characters have vast potential and I’ll be curious to see where Green takes her story.


  1. says

    As much as I like witch-y stuff, I think I’ll pass on this one. Hadn’t heard of it before your review. Do you think it’s something I would like? I’m assuming the White/Black witch thing is referring to the type of magic and not skin color, right?!

    • says

      I don’t know if you would like it or not. The pacing was off and it dragged for a good portion, so honestly it is hard to recommend. I did enjoy the thought of what the story could be and think there is potential but I’m not sure it was fully realized in this novel. And yes, the color relates to their type of magic not skin color.

  2. says

    I want to read this one (dang, do I ever start off a comment NOT saying that?! XD). It’s interesting that you liked the main character more than the secondary characters! I always find myself doing opposite…lol. But that is a bit disappointing that it drags a bit, eh? I’m so not up for books that I feel like skimming.

    • says

      I’ve seen a lot of people really loving or hating but I felt a lot more in the meh category. I saw a lot of potential and liked aspects but it never felt fully developed for me. It drags for sure. When/if you read it I want to hear your thoughts.

  3. says

    Yeah, I’m probably going to shelve this series until it’s complete. I’ve heard from a lot of people that it drags, but the premise sounds amazing, so I hope the next installment is better.

    • says

      Agreed. It dragged for me and I’ve seen others say that as well. Perhaps waiting until further installments are out is the way it should be. I wonder too, if the final version will improve on some of the common issues? I’d be interested to see.

  4. says

    This is one that I’ve been anticipating the most. Sadly my excitement has dissipated due to reviews and low ratings. I still very much want to read it and after reading your review, there’s still some hope lol! I’m all about some good characterization and world building, so if there’s potential there, then I’m game!!
    Book Hangovers Blabs Books

    • says

      Hopefully when you read it you’ll find elements that you enjoy. I think there is some real potential, I just wish it was refined some. Perhaps, the final version will be cleaner? I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts when you finish.

  5. says

    Aw, I’m sorry that you didn’t love it. And oh. Love interest flat? Does not sound good. I always need an amazing love interest, hih. I don’t think this book would be for me. Sigh. But I’m glad you enjoyed the beginning 🙂 Amazing review Kristen. <3

    • says

      Thank you Carina! I’m not sure you’d enjoy this one but if you do read it I’d love to hear what you think. I’ve seen some pretty mixed reviews on this one so it’ll be interesting to see what everyone thinks.

  6. says

    I definitely had mixed feelings. Loved the writing and worldbuilding, but I also found the love interest completely devoid of personality and I agree that given the long time frame, the pacing felt uneven. Lauren and I both thought that this had a prequel-y sort of feel. I’m still not sure if I understand what kind of a story this is. An exploration of good vs. evil? A son is prophesied to kill his father story? A love story? All of the above? None of the above? In the end, I’m left a little confused.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    • says

      I’m with you Jen, it was confusing to even try to categorize. I will be reading the next installment and hoping for a better paced and developed story. And I agree 100% it did feel like a prequel. I sort of think a good amount could have been edited out and it would have been an even stronger book.

  7. says

    I’ve been seeing a lot of lukewarm reviews on this one. It sounds like it might be worth waiting for the reviews on the next book in the series to see if it gets any better before picking it up. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

  8. says

    I don’t read many witch type books but the description with the black and white witches seems interesting. I may not start this series now, but I’m interested to see how the love interest grows in the coming books.

    • says

      I don’t read many either and I do love the premise of this one (sort of Harry Potter-ish). I wonder how the characters will develop too.

  9. says

    I just finished this book last night, actually. I didn’t find it slow at all. I thought the pace was pretty consistent throughout. It got a little odd around the time Gabriel and Mercury came into the picture, but I assumed that’s because it was heading toward a dramatic conclusion and was trying to build momentum. One thing I did not like, though, was that it was so obviously setting up for the next book in the series. I find that a little bit like cheating.

    • says

      I wish I could have felt the pacing was consistent. Didn’t feel like it to me but maybe it was my lack of interest as I read? The start felt much stronger to me. I was wanting a dramatic conclusion too…and I don’t feel like it delivered. I agree about it feeling like the set-up for book 2. I assume you’ll check out book 2? I am pretty sure I will.

  10. says

    “The love interest was as flat as could be and really had zero personality.”
    Yes yes yes, THIS! This was why I found the “romance” between the two characters so annoying, especially the parts where Nathan was mooning all over Annalise without really knowing her. Sigh, those hormones.
    “I felt inclined to skim over entire sections and found myself yearning for the book’s resolution. Never a good thing when you’re feeling like that with a third of the book left to go.”
    You know how I felt about the ending – I sped read through it. I just couldn’t make myself slowly read it and enjoy all the words. :l
    Great review Kristen! (:

    • says

      Yep, we felt pretty similar about this one. I could see why Nathan would fawn over the thought of Annalise since he had been so deprived of attention and affection but I would have liked for there to be something a bit deeper. If book 2 can showcase that I’ll be a much happier camper. And so sad about the desire to skim over the last third on both our parts 🙁

  11. says

    I really loved this book,. but I think it was because I though the uneven pacing kind of fit Nathan’s state of mind. He was abused, really, so I thought it fit well. I know there have been some strong feelings on both side about this book, so thanks for the balanced review.

    • says

      There were aspects I really loved just wish I hadn’t lost some of my momentum and interest towards the end. I believe the next book will build on this one and be even better. I’m so happy you loved it! I don’t think I’ve seen your review…I’ll be heading over to look for it in a bit.

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