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on 9 July 2016
Half Bad is a wonderful integration of witches into modern day society and makes for an intriguing and compelling story that makes you question today’s world(or at least it did for me).

The far superior White Witches or S***es(I love this!) as they become to be known through one character, have control of much of the UK and are in the process of hunting down and seemingly culling Black Witches.

Black witches are attuned to the night, have vastly more powerful gifts but have a tendency to kill each other, and more often that not, their family.

One Black Witch in particular is Marcus, who has killed a lot of witches, white and black alike for his own survival. It just so happens, that through illegitimate courtship with a white witch, he has a son.

That’s bad news for Nathan.

Being a ‘half-code’ as the Whites put it, he can choose either side, though he is constantly monitored, disciplined, isolated and point-blank treated as a criminal although he is just a child.

After years of captivity, caged, cuffed, assessed and punished for minor indiscretions, the Whites offer him a deal.

White code status in return for his assistance in killing his own father.

Naturally, he refuses, though he has no real reason to, his Father is as illusive to him as he is to anyone and hasn’t attempted to make contact.

After this refusal, Nathan was literally branded as a criminal. He is marked as a Black Witch, he is marked magically, all the way done to his bones. Tattoos that cannot be removed no matter how deep you skin the flesh…

Circumstances come to light in which Nathan makes his grand escape, and sets off on his mission to find Mercury, a witch who can give him his three gifts before his birthday, as he fears without, he will die.

This one book has a hell of a lot to digest. It’s a brilliant read, a bit slow in places as the world of witches is built up and explained chapter by chapter, following how Nathan ended up in his cage but we are spared no expense when it comes to the plot kicking off.

We see Nathan’s insecurities, lack of respect for authority, his dreams and hopes for his Father and his capacity to believe there is good in White Witches despite that fact that for 90% of his life, he has been shunned, shamed and tortured by them.

The acts that take place in the book by both adult and teen White Witches are brutal, calculated and cringe-worthy. Not what you’d expect from the self-proclaimed heroes of the Witch world, though we quickly understand that nothing is as it seems.

The hunters are ruthless and don’t let up on Nathan, sparing him no mercy from their hacked up supremacist retorts and punches.

And when we finally encounter Marcus. He seems like a puppy by comparison. Did I mention he eats the hearts of Witches’ by the way?

Come here boy!

Despite his obvious flaws, Marcus is definitely going to be a baddie that you just love to love. Besides, accounts of his attacks are publicised by who? You guessed it, the White Witches. For all we know, they could have killed them and blamed Marcus to save their own skin. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. Half Bad definitely has a thing for making you doubt even the solidarity of proven facts.

I have extremely high hopes for Half Wild as we delve further into this mysterious world of treachery, darkness and ultimately Nathan’s gift, which judging by the cover, may take after his father’s.

Here’s hoping!

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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 February 2016
This was a highly anticipated book for me - I've read so many positive things.

Nathan is a half code. Which is to say he's both "good" and "bad" Witch. It's the usual dark and light, black and white witch formula. Except what's exciting about this book is that Nathan doesn't really know which he wants to be, or is most likely to become.

I really enjoyed the setting for this novel. It has a really unique feel to it with extensive information about the universe it's set in which made it easy to love. But the thing is, there really is a lot about this book which is great. The characters are likeable, even the seemingly nasty ones have you rooting for them. I loved the paradox between good and bad and the exploration of how good people aren't always good and bad people can do good things. It breaks the fairytale mould in this regard and I loved connecting to each character.

Ostensibly this is a coming of age story typical of this genre. But it stands out largely because of those positives rather than because of the storyline.

This world is a strange, dark and twisty world which could have been much more eerie but was certainly angry and tense. I was so drawn in to the suspenseful, mysterious adventure and couldn't put it down for hours. The novel moves swiftly with endless new developments, rules and challenges - all of which were great - but my only criticism is that it was so typical. So same-y. I was really hoping for something new in this heavily saturated market and sadly this wasn't too different.

Despite this, I think this is a great book and fans of this genre will definitely love it - it ticks almost all the boxes. I just didn't tick the "original" box.
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on 21 December 2015
The trick is not to mind.
Not to mind about it hurting.
Not to mind about anything.

Entrapped in a cage, beaten, shackled, and trained to kill, Nathan is an abomination in a world full of strictly Black and White witches. He is a Half Code, both Black and White, the illegitimate son of a murderous Black witch, the most powerful witch in existence. For Nathan to have any hope of surviving after the age of 17 he needs to receive his three gifts and drink the blood of his family. His Gift will then be revealed, helping him to discover his true powers, before it's too late. When rumours of what the council intends to do to him reaches his ears, he knows that he must do what he can to escape the Council's grasp and find Marcus. But as the country's most wanted witch, Marcus is both evasive and incredibly hard to find.

At the begging of the book, I found the style of writing a bit weird and hard to get into, but at around 50 pages in I started to enjoy it a lot. The racism themes in the book were insightful and interesting, showing the reader into Nathan's life and how being a Half Code alienated him from others. The romance was a good part of the book but it felt a bit flimsy, not really real - a fleeting memory in a solitary brain. I found the plot and action in the story thrilling and it got me hooked. The story was dark, gripping and showed Nathan's indomitable will to survive. I finished the book in under a day and was eager to get onto the next.

Tackling hard topics, full of action, suspense, danger and longing, Half Bad is beautifully written.
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on 16 March 2015
I think I read somewhere (and I can’t remember where, so if this is a load of nonsense I’m happy for the author to tell me to shut up) that Sally Green’s first manuscript was rejected for not being edgy enough.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that this isn’t a problem Half Bad has. And I loved it!

Half Bad is set in our world, but a version where Black Witches and White Witches have their own society and live (kind of) alongside fains (non-magical people). On their seventeenth birthday they receive three gifts (normal presents) and drink the blood of one of their relations (mmm...yum) and then they receive their Gift (psychic power). This could be anything from telekinesis to the ability to control the weather. White Witches use their Gift for good (and their version of good involves torturing Black Witches to death) whereas Black Witches... Well, it just sounds like Black Witches take their Gift, give the Council of White Witches the finger and spend the rest of their lives being persecuted by the Council’s Hunters.

I’ve read reviews that have compared Half Bad to Harry Potter. Well, I guess if you’re talking about a version of Harry Potter where Harry is kept in a cage in the garden instead of the cupboard under the stairs, and he regularly gets the crap beaten and stabbed out of him instead of being educated at Hogwarts, and where people try to force him to murder, and instead of having loads of really nice mates he has no one at all and instead of his dad being a hero he was basically Voldemort, then yes, in that case I’d say Half Bad is exactly like Harry Potter.

*Rolls eyes*

So yes, I’d say that Sally Green took away her (possibly imagined by me) feedback and definitely came up with something edgy. And well written. And fun. And heart-rending.

Can’t wait to read the next one.
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on 13 March 2015
'I think that fiction is an excellent place for us to struggle with questions of good and evil, and humanity and inhumanity' Brent Weeks

Nathan is half bad: he might be a son of a white witch (good) but he is also a son of a murderous black witch (evil). He lives in a society of white witches who label him solely by reference to his infamous father and the crimes he committed. They refuse to see there might be good in him so as a consequence he is discriminated, ostracised, persecuted and cruelly tortured. His must escape his tormentors and find a black witch Mercury by the time he is seventeen. Every witch goes through a ceremony known as 'the Giving' at their seventeenth birthday during which they receive three gifts and drink their ancestor's blood - this enables their Gift to be fully activated. Without that ceremony black witches tend to die within a year's time or so. The gifts range from excelling at potion making through invisibility, healing others, seeing the future to telekinesis, flying or even slowing down the time. The white witches fear what Nathan might become at the ceremony so send their elite squad of hunters after him, making his mission that more dangerous.

This is a fast-paced, well-written YA fantasy adventure that takes place in a unique magical world masterfully woven by Ms Green. It's a dark coming of age story where the main protagonist fights against discrimination in a righteous society. Convinced he is good at heart, the torture he endures might just push him onto his bad half.

I wouldn't go as far as comparing 'Half Bad' to 'Harry Potter' as some have done, with the latter being an unattainable ideal for many authors to come who decide to write about witches and wizards. But just because Rowling's masterpiece is 'once-in-a-century' type of achievement, it doesn't mean that other books about witches cannot be enjoyable too. This one certainly is and my respect for the author for adding something new and original to the YA fantasy pot - especially given that this is her début.

The story poses some interesting topics for discussion such e.g. nature vs nurture or good vs evil. It would not be the first time in fiction nor in the history of the world when those in power commit horrendous deeds in the pursuit of peace, justice and the welfare of the society; but mixing it with a world of witchcraft makes it just a little more different. I adore fantasy books that explore universal moral issues and this one delivers that too. My only two criticisms are the one-dimensional characters (good or bad and nothing in between) and surprisingly little magic for a book about witches ( I have a feeling this will change as the story continues). 4.5 stars from me and will definitely purchase the sequel!
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on 1 April 2015
I wouldn't ordinarily pick up (another) book about witches, but when Half Bad was shortlisted for one of the YA books of the year, I ordered it to see what all the fuss was about - and boy am I glad I did. This book, like the main character, Nathan, has attitude, with a fresh, confident voice that grabs you right from the start. It tells the story of Nathan, a 'half code;' because his mum is a White Witch, but his dad is Black Witch. He is the only one of his kind, and we follow him as year by year he is continually assessed for evidence of Black Witch tendencies. There is no complex world building or back story explanations. The reader is thrown right into the cage alongside Nathan, when he is locked up by the Council shortly before his seventeenth birthday. There is no cosy Dumbledore here: Nathan must learns what he can from Celia, a large, brutish woman who knocks him about. There are no flying broom sticks - just furtive camping trips to Wales, and like Potter, Nathan is bullied by his fellow White Witches, only here the violence is real and unrelenting. No wonder then, that Nathan is a complex character, with a black temper to match his eyes. The author is unflinching in her portrayal of a teenage boy who is tender to his family and the girl he loves, but is capable of terrible acts of violence. And perhaps it is this that makes the book so powerful and credible. Written in sparse language, it combines energy and pace with moments of understated sorrow. Despite being witches, all of the characters are all believable. Gabrielle is a particular favourite, but it is Nathan, honest, tortured, mixed up Nathan, who pulls the eye of the reader all the way through to a breathless-oh-no-I-must-have-more-now ending. Like others, I am amazed to discover that this is Sally Green's first novel, and delighted that her second, Half Wild, has just been published. I thoroughly recommend this book for fans of YA, particularly for boys.
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on 5 September 2015
have to be honest, I was expecting Half Bad to be enjoyable, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. I love it when a book comes upon you quite suddenly and surprises you!

I’m not entirely sure what made Half Bad so good. Was it the remarkable storytelling of Nathan? The witty dialogue? Or the plot? All I know was that I was hooked from the start.

Half Bad shows that not everything is black and white, just because one is a black witch does not mean that they are evil, similarly a white witch is not automatically good. There is more to it than that, there is a lot more grey areas than clear-cut definitions.

Overall Half Bad is a witty, insightful read, that puts a different spin on what it means to be a witch. I loved that there was moral ambiguity in this book. But mostly I loved Nathan with all his flaws.
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on 10 December 2014
Synopsis

Nathan has always been different. Firstly, he is a witch living in a world full of humans. He feels distinctly different. Things at home aren’t much better. His older sister Jessica hates him and does everything she can to be cruel.

You see, Nathan is different from his family too. He is a half breed born into a family of pure white witches. Nathan is part black and white witch. His father, Marcus is a black witch and no one will let him forget that.

Review

I’m a fan of Young Adult fiction. At 31 that may seem a little strange but for me it is almost as if there is something unforgiving about it. Ironically, it is aimed at an audience who are, by nature, unsure of themselves and coming into their own as people yet the books targeted at them hold no bars in their delivery. Half Bad is one such book…and it is fantastic.

Fantasy is not a genre that I am well versed in. The few I have read I have enjoyed, however, fantasy books do not tend to be my first choice. Half Bad is appealing because of the nature of the story. Nathan is trying to find out who he is yet he is constantly coming up against forces greater than he is. He feels trapped and every chance to escape is stymie by someone who believes they know better than he does. You become so very frustrated for him.

On a deeper level, the book is about prejudice. Nathan has been judged his whole life because of who his father is. Just by living, Nathan is held accountable for his father’s sins which admittedly are plentiful. This burden is the albatross round Nathan’s neck. It is even more of an issue because of the Witches Council’s involvement. They fear Nathan, they think he will become like his father. It is because of this that they are determined to control him.

What I really liked about Sally Green’s novel is that she did not hold back one little bit. She described the torture that Nathan was put through with almost graphic realism. You cannot help but empathise with him. If compassion is the one thing that her young audience take from this novel then she has done a great thing.

Half Bad by Sally Green is available now.
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on 10 August 2014
The sign of a good book is when the characters feel as real to you as someone who is actually real.
The sign of a good book is when you can’t stop thinking about it after the last page.
The sign of a good book is when you would die for the sequel to be released the next day.
So you know what? Half Bad = a good book.

I freely admit that it might not be for everyone; the elements of torture inflicted on “children” particularly when written in the second person definitely turns stomachs. I’m no exception, and that’s why I loved it (worried how much that says about me…). Everything was so dark including Sally Green’s writing with the second person that worked brilliantly in involving you in the story. It’s great when books suck you into the story, and I know I won’t be explaining it properly when I say you literally live it.

Another aspect I loved that is always vital for a good book was the world. The background had a rather dystopian feel with the white witches ruling, and basically killing off every black witch who’s unlucky enough to be noticed. Our main protagonist Nathan is half white witch, half black witch on his father’s side; who just so happens to be the most feared black witch in the world. It might have something to do with the touch of mass murder. Might not (but probably is).

Nathan is then feared and hated, forced to endure a life that no one let alone a child should live, so I was overjoyed he could find light in his world through Annalise. She’s sweet and everything but it was hard to get emotionally involved, especially for the amount of time you see her. Nathan on the other hand is so easy to imagine and picture, you can feel his emotions flowing off the pages enticing your own in return. I wanted everything to work out for him so much that every, single time he hit a hurdle his pain mirrored my own.

I can’t wait to see where Sally Green takes his story, and after this brilliant debut I can safely say that I will be in on what looks like a hell of a ride. I just wish it wasn’t so far away…

Posted on: http://enchantedbyya.blogspot.co.uk
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on 26 May 2014
I almost always avoid anything to do with witches or wizards - Harry Potter is kind of my life, and it just feels like nothing will ever measure up. However, I'd read numerous rave reviews about Sally Green's Half Bad, and couldn't resist it for a 79p Kindle bargain! Ultimately, my first real foray into witches post-Potter has proved a mixed bag.

Nathan is a bit of a complicated hero. He isn't unlikeable, but he's not wholly likeable either, so you're left rather ambivalent about his fate. Perhaps this is because of his uniquely dual heritage - he is the only known Half Code (a witch with one White witch parent and one Black witch). Because of this, the council in charge of the Whites ('good' witches) place numerous restrictions on him, afraid of his difference. The dichotomy of good and evil between the Black and White witches was interesting because the morals were blurred; many White Witches, who are supposedly good, treat Nathan with cruelty and manipulate people for their own ends, whereas the Black witches he meets treat him with kindness. I always enjoy a bit of moral ambiguity, so Green wins some points for that from me.

However, I don't think this book has earned the label of 'wonderfully original' that it has been given. It is perhaps inevitable that a series about magic would draw HP comparisons, but there are a few too many here - badly treated orphan living in a confined space, punished by an abusive family member, and an alleyway that 'fains' (read: muggles) can't see. Any stories with magic are going to feature points of overlap, but there were just a few too many for comfort. The 'love interest' sub plot also annoyed me because it just seemed entirely forced. Nathan 'falls' for a White Witch, of course - Green is obviously trying for a Romeo and Juliet type relationship which will play out well in the big-screen adaptation, but it's moot because Annalise doesn't appear to have any kind of personality. Whenever Nathan talks about how much he likes her, you roll your eyes because you can't imagine why!

Ultimately, I felt that Half Bad was just okay. It was an interesting idea, and Green's prose is compelling, if a little too simplistic for my tastes - and I will certainly read the sequel. But somehow I just didn't find it worthy of the rave reviews I've read, and comparisons to my beloved Harry are so far entirely groundless.
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