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Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not at all spellbinding, 1 May 2014
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This review is from: Half Bad (Paperback)
I suppose the obvious pun here (and one I'm really not above making), 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. At one point I felt like screaming 'Avada Kedavra' at their asses, so they'd see how bad-ass being a witch could be.

As for the writing style . . . oh, the writing style. Sally Green, I kind of want to tut at you. But I also kind of want to applaud you for trying something new.

The novel switches between first person and – my mortal enemy – the second person. Which is confusing, odd, and a little off-putting. It's affective 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 barrier, stopping 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.

Overall rating: 2/5 little birdies

For this and more reviews made of awesome, visit Little Birdie Books: [...]
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Location: England, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,862