As the illegitimate son of the most feared & violent witch in modern-day England, Nathan is neither a full White witch nor a full Black witch. He’s held captive in a cage and trained to kill in a world where the two sides are living, and fighting, among unsuspecting humans. In a race against time, Nathan must escape and find the one that will give him his three gifts, unlocking his own magical powers, before he turns seventeen.
The premise alone had me interested but when I heard people refer to it as “great for Harry Potter fans” and “if the story was told from Draco Malfoy’s perspective” I was all the more intrigued. Right from the first pages, you get a taste of what this book will be like. Part 1 felt like vignettes, glimpses of Nathan’s life in various moments, before the reader is taken back to the beginning in Part 2. The prose is gritty and the narrative ugly in the sense that it doesn’t paint a pretty magical picture of the world of witches. There is a sense of real danger, mistrust and urgency in Green’s writing that is not always prevalent in stories about magic and I loved that.
In its most basic form, the novel is about good vs bad, whether your destiny is the result of nature vs nurture. In that same respect, those that are in either category do not all necessarily live up to their designation which makes it hard for Nathan, and the readers, to know who to trust. I’ve always been a fan of stories that show the other often-hidden side of characters, that not all seemingly-bad are truly-bad and vice versa. This kind of character revelation and development reminded me of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked or Rowling’s Harry Potter in a way that transcends the common denominator of witches and magic.
Half Bad is the first book in the trilogy and I absolutely cannot wait for the next installments. So much happens in this first book with so much potential for more in the following ones. I could not put this book down, and Green has succeeded in laying out a well-paced, edge-of-your-seat adventure with a bit of modernity and a bit of magic.