Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

March 14, 2015 Review 31 ★★★½

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green
Half Bad by Sally Green
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Penguin
Source: Publisher
Pages: 432
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #1
Genres: Boys & Men, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, General, Young Adult
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-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 seventeenth 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?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


If I had to describe HALF BAD in one word it would be: original. I’m all about a unique storyline, especially in YA, and that is what this book delivered. While it was not without faults, I would definitely say that this is my favorite novel about witches.

Part of the originality comes from its unique POV; it switches back and forth from first (Nathan “I”) and second person (Nathan “You”) with the majority being in first person after a few chapters in second. This will not be for everyone, and while it kind of fits with the way the story is told, I am still not completely sure what the purpose was.

I would say this book is very character driven; this is Nathan’s story and the novel focuses more on him and how he reacts as opposed to what is going on around him. On the positive side, this allows readers to really get to know and feel for the character. On the negative side, not much development is given to secondary characters or events. It comes down to what your preference is.

HALF BAD reminded me how fun the paranormal side of young adult can be. It was the first book in a long while (excluding fantasy books) that made me say:

I love magic!

Most of that stems from the world building and magic system that has the potential to be very complex (in a good way), but not overly so. While we were given the basics, I would have liked to see a lot more. I am very interested in the White Witches v.s. Black Witches concept because I have a feeling there is more to that than meets the eye.

The details given about the world and magic fit in very well with the plot though, and the story never felt like it stopped to explain something, so the pacing never faltered when it came to explanation.

However, there were some slow sections and parts that felt repetitive because the character was put in the same situation multiple times. While the novel has a clear climax and somewhat of a resolution to the problem introduced, not much really happened. It is an entertaining read, but definitely serves as an introduction to the series.

With all that said, I’m excited about this series and am looking forward to the sequel.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

31 Responses to “Review: Half Bad by Sally Green”

    • Alise

      Yay, I’m glad you are excited, I think you will like it :D Yeah, just some parts but it is definitely interesting. Sure! :)

  1. Kezia

    I wanted to read this last year but now… I guess not so much anymore haha! Don’t call me weird but I have this attraction toward the name Nathan…I’m still trying to find more books that use this name, sadly. I’m not used to reading a book in second POV as well so this book might seem odd to me at first. I hope things will be better in the sequel! ^^
    Kezia recently posted…HQ!! 148: Seijou turns me into a mess

    • Alise

      That’s not weird, although I am the opposite since I know some Nathans xD It is definitely a little disconcerting at first, but immersive.

    • Alise

      I know what you mean, I am the exact same way. Yeah, it does but I did enjoy the book overall so I would still recommend it. Thanks :)

  2. Wattle

    I was thinking I would add this to my TBR until I got to the second person narrative. I am one of those people who just cannot deal with it. I can handle it for the odd paragraph here and there, but actual chapters? :/

    Hmmm I think I’ll put it on my maybe list anyway. Stories about witches are always interesting and this one definitely sounds unique :)
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #23

    • Alise

      I’m usually not a fan either, and when I started reading it was disconcerting but I would say only ~20% is in second person, maybe less. The good thing is these parts don’t really have much plot but serve more as an immersive experience, if that makes sense. I’m sure you can find an excerpt and see if the second person would bother you.

  3. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Your FAVORITE novel about witches?! That’s it. That’s all I need. Sign me up! I love how you say it’s original and that was the best bit. I’m ALL FOR unique storylines, especially in YA. A few other trusted blogger friends have enjoyed this one so despite it’s issues, I’m definitely going to give it a go :D Loved your review ♥
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

    • Alise

      Excluding Harry Potter, if that counts xD HP is in a world of its own. Same, same. Yay, I’m glad! :D Thanks!

  4. A Canadian Girl

    I like the premise of this one but it also sounds like I’d have some issues with it (e.g. the first vs. second person POV, the lack of secondary character development, etc.). Are you planning on reading the sequel, Alise? If so, I’m going to wait for your thoughts on that before deciding whether to give this series a try.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

    • Alise

      Yes, I am. This one did have its issues but they were issues that made the book all the more original… I’m so conflicted on this one, I did really enjoy it but yeah-the issues.

    • Alise

      I also liked that-it does not pull any punches. I’ve read some pretty dark YA books so I can’t say that for this one but I totally agree about the writing and the originality!

  5. Kirsty-Marie

    Yessssss! I’m so glad you liked this, despite the faults. I didn’t get what the purpose of the second person was either, maybe to show he was stir crazy in the position he was? I don’t know now, it didn’t bother me that much though, I don’t mind second person anyway. Agree, it is more character driven, which is probably why I liked it so much, though I did want more on Gabriel *cough* my favourite *cough*I think you’ll like Half Wild, since it delves into the Black Witches V.s. White Witches more. :D
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: The Orphan Queen (!!!!!!!!!!)

    • Alise

      That’s a good theory, it makes sense. It didn’t bother me once I got into it, it did allow me to connect to Nathan more. Baha, he definitely is an interesting character. Ooh, nice!

  6. Faye M.

    Half Bad was definitely a fascincating read to me as well. There were some parts that I enjoyed, and there were some that I couldn’t really get myself to appreciate. The magic was nice for one, and I love how we see the internal turmoil happening inside Nathan. But the pacing was so awful for me – it would drag out when he’s traveling from Point A to Point B, and when the climax happens, it’s over before we know it. Plus, the love interest!!! I really didn’t like her, at all. What did you think about her, Alise? Any thoughts?
    Faye M. recently posted…ARC Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

    • Alise

      You took the words right out of my mouth, that’s exactly how I felt about this one. The traveling and the part where he’s captured (multiple times, actually) were slow. The love interest… yeah, I didn’t even rate the romance xD It seemed more of an obsession on Nathan’s part than a romance, I didn’t see much basis for it. I’m wondering if it is going to come out that she really isn’t on his side, the whole thing seems sketchy.

  7. Andreea

    I loved this book. Can’t wait to read the next one. I am glad you liked it too.

    Sorry for not commenting lately, but I had a lot going on!


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