‘Half Bad’ by Sally Green: First in a fabulous YA debut series

Half_Bad_book_cover

Rating: 5 stars

“Half Bad” by Sally Green isn’t half bad — it’s totally wonderful. The story is fast-moving, the action and dialogue keep the reader’s interest, and the characters are believable and compelling.

Green gives Part One the title of “The Trick,” and she uses a trick with the setting. Part One is actually more the middle of the story in this first book. Green also plays a bit with the narration — throwing a bit of second person narration in this first part — which doesn’t appear in the later parts of the story.

It’s about an England with witches. White witches, obviously, are the good witches, and black witches are the bad ones. However, that dichotomy is really not all that accurate when white witches torture and kill those who aren’t on their side.

But Green cleverly doesn’t make the story about black versus white. There are some white witches who are happy to act like black witches, and there are black witches with souls like white witches. It’s all mixed up — just like the real world.

Interestingly, Green’s protagonist is unable to read. Although Nathan is quite competent with maps, letters word formations are practically impossible for him to decipher.

He’s locked in a cage in the first part of the book. If he doesn’t escape and get the traditional three gifts that all witches must get on their 17th birthday, he might die. His father, the baddest black witch of all, has never tried to find him. Perhaps that’s because one witch had a vision that Nathan would kill his father with a famous sword, the Fairborn.

In spite of the darkness of parts of the story (black witches killing any and all — including their own relatives), Green writes with humor. For example:

“‘The way you go all…there’s an English word — mopey? Yes, I think that’s it. You are mopey sometimes.’
Mopey!
‘I think you’ve got the wrong word. Thoughtful is more like it.’
‘No, I think the right word is mopey.'”

For readers tired of dystopian young adult novels and vampire novels, this series — full of magic and adventure (and a bit of humor) — is sure to please. Even reluctant readers will find themselves turning page after page to find out what happens.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Viking for review purposes.