01/05/2014

Review: Half Bad {Sally Green}


 

Nathan can't read or write, but he can heal fast. Even for a witch. 

He gets sick if he stays indoors after dark, just like Black witches. He hates White witches, but loves one. And he's been kept in a cage since he was fourteen.

Now all Nathan has to do is escape from the world that wants to kill him and find Mercury, a powerful Black witch who eats boys. And all before his seventeenth birthday, or he risks losing his powers for good.


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 

I suppose the obvious pun here is that this book wasn't half bad. But it wasn't half good either.

The idea is pretty interesting: a young witch persecuted because he might be different. When he's targeted simply because of the crimes his father committed, it brings up a lot of really interesting questions about nature VS nurture and what makes us who we are

Plus, I'll be honest, I was just happy to have another book about magic in my hands. I'm a sucker for a good story about witches. But Half Bad wasn't really spellbinding (I'm not above making that pun either).

This is mostly because, for a book about magic there really wasn't a whole lot of magic in it. All the characters kept talking about their powers, but it was so rare to see any of them actually being used. 

 As for the writing style, the novel switches between first person and – my mortal enemy – the second person. Which is confusing, odd, and a little off-putting. It's effective in doing the job Green wanted it to though; putting us in Nathan's shoes and allowing us to experience the horrors he did firsthand. 

But I think if you're going to do something like that, you need to commit to it. The flittering back and forth just made the second person parts seem out-of-place and unnecessary. Especially since the first person narrative was a lot better at depicting just how badly Nathan's awful life affected him. In the second person, things were told to us ('you did this', 'you felt like this' etc.) so I never really got to experience things the way I did when I saw Nathan go through them.

Which leads me to the most important point: there was a huge disconnect in this book. The whole novel felt like a barrierstopping me from understanding the characters or connecting with the plot, or experiencing anything. There was a lot of showing, instead of telling, and I actually got bored with how simple and direct the writing was. I wanted a bit of purple in my prose. 

Even Nathan, who has so much happen to him, just felt a little bland. And I really felt like Green really played-up the fact that he couldn't read or write properly with things like this: 
i hava bordr and sisser my bordrs Arran he is niss and Debsis clvrer.

I thought that was a little gratuitous. And the fact that none of Nathan's family could even teach him to read or write at a basic level, and instead just declared it a waste of time? I mean, really?!

There was also no spark between Nathan and his love interest (of sorts) Annalise. Green tried to portray a Romeo and Juliet type romance, but their relationship seemed kind of random and forced to me. Whenever Nathan talked about how much he liked Annalise, I just kept thinking why? I didn't feel anything between them.

  
This book was just a bit too bland for me. Though I loved the idea of throwing myself into a new magical world, it would've be nice if this one actually had some magic in it. Or even some characters that I could root for. Nathan is the son of one of the most notorious and murderous Black witches to ever live, which should have made for a gripping novel, but I never felt excited by the story or connected to any of the characters in it.


 


 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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26 comments:

  1. Connecting with the characters in a novel is so important! I was curious about this one. Thanks for your review!

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    1. It's a shame there was such a disconnect, because this really did have so much potential!

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  2. I haven't heard great things about this one. It sounds like it could have been much more exciting...maybe the next in the series will be better, but this one definitely doesn't scream "read me".

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    1. To be honest, I won't be picking up the next one. There are SO many books I want to read and am excited to dig into – I don't want to force myself to read a series that just doesn't live up to its potential (harsh, I know. But true)

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  3. I've heard such mixed views on this book, I have a copy waiting to be read! Hopefully it won't be too terrible! :)

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination

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    1. It really isn't terrible, so I don't want to put you off. I just felt it was a little bland for me and I never connected with it. Who knows though? You might really enjoy it!

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  4. Ooh, the second person thing could easily kill a book. I think I've only read one book where it actually worked and this doesn't sound like it would be one of them. Plus it seems like it was boring in most parts, and that's no fun!

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    1. Yeah, it was just a little random. And I always feel like second person is an excuse to show instead of telling - I see it as quite lazy because you're always told what you're feeling and what you're doing, instead of seeing a character experience it.

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  5. I read this recently as well, and, while I liked it a bit more than you (3 stars from me), I completely see where you're coming from. I felt like the entire 2nd half of the book was just one gigantic circle, and that there really never was a plot, you know? :| And absolutely...if you're going to write a story, you have to be consistent with the writing / narrative.

    Thanks so much for sharing Allie, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3 Glad to see you back!

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    1. EXACTLY! It felt kind of repetitive and I just wanted something to progress! The best bit was the end between Nathan and that other character (whose name I won't mention for spoilery reasons lol). I hate it when books don't get to the good stuff until the final pages - it makes the entire reading experience seem like a total waste!

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  6. So agree, half there! I really wanted it to be amazing and it had the potential, but lacked it seriously!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. I really was so excited about another magical world to get absorbed in – sucks this didn't live up to that :(

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  7. Nice pun ;)
    Haha, i actually think it describes this book perfectly. I unfortunetly just couldn't get into this one, the narrative kept throwing me off and keeping me disinterested and i felt like everyhting in the story was touched upon but not explored (the magic, Nathan's father, the ROMANCE) it was just annoying.
    That being said i very much think this one wanted to set things up for the rest of the series, i don't know so i'm not going too be to harsh on it either. Great review Allie! I'm not sure if i'll be picking up the sequel though! I bettter hear AMAZING things about it
    lily

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    1. I totally agree about things being touched upon but never explored. Like Nathan's Black witch side – I would've loved to see more of that and have more of an exploration of the nature VS nurture thing. And all the character relationships too . . . none were developed enough! I wanted to FEEL something when I read this, but I felt like there just wasn't enough information for me to do so. We need the feels, Lily!

      I'm staying clear of the sequel, but if you pick it up I'll be really interested to see if its dramatically better or not!

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  8. Bleh - this doesn't sound like something Id enjoy. Great, real characters are pretty important for me. Love the puns, btw.

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    1. Haha, I got a little pun happy ;)

      It's a tough one really, because it's not that it was an awful novel, it just didn't make me feel anything. And that's awful in itself. I think it's a marmite type of book!

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  9. The change in the pov would really confused and make me dislike them, but at least there were good things to enjoy along with the half bad

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    1. I just wish there were more good things :(

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  10. Awesome review Allie! I have heard so many things about this novel, I think the blogger opinion is split between it being Half Bad ;) (haha sorry, had to do it). The thing about Nathan being unable to read is kind of difficult to believe, I have to agree. And all the talking about powers? How frustrating. Thanks for the honest thoughts!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. It would've been nice to have less talking and more magical awesomeness. But the lack of USING their powers just made this feel like a standard contemporary, just with a main character who had a lot of bad stuff happening to him!

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  11. Aw so sad you didn't like this one. :(( It's one of my top favourites for the year! lol I actually thought it was interesting that Nathan couldn't read. I mean, stuff like learning disabilities aren't often written in the "epic fantasy" books, you know?? So I was happy the author was representing a minority! And I absolutely loved the style. Hhehe...each to their own, though, right?!!

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    1. I think as Jeann said, this has got us bloggers all split down the middle.

      I did really enjoy the fact that he couldn't read, because it made him 'flawed' BUT I thought the extent to which he couldn't read or write was highly unrealistic. As was the fact that NOBODY could teach him and even his own family found him impossible.

      I'm guessing you're excited for the sequel then? Let me know what you think, because I'm super interested to see if it's a lot more action etc. this time around

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  12. Sorry to hear you didn't love this one. I have a signed hardback but haven't got to it yet. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews so I am keeping my expectations pretty low. I think the switching back and forth between first and second person might put me off too. I also hate it when I don't understand the romance between the characters or why they even like each other. I'm really interested to see what I make of this one now, thanks for the honest review :)

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    1. I'm interested to see what you think too! It really wasn't awful, I guess I was so excited at the prospect of it that I set myself up for a fall. There was just a lot of potential that wasn't reached :(

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  13. It's so nice to read another review of this from someone who didn't love it, I felt like the odd one out. Nathan's illiteracy really bothered me too, I didn't find it believable at all!

    I found your blog thanks to Reviews of a Bookworm - I'm now following you via Bloglovin' :)

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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    1. We can be book review buddies then haha.

      That's really cool btw. I'm so glad you found Little Birdie and loved it enough to follow :) Thanks for being awesome!

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