Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

March 27, 2015 3 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 10 ★★★

Review: Half Bad by Sally GreenHalf Bad by Sally Green
Series: Half-Life #1
Published by Penguin Audio on January 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours 36 minutes
Narrator: Carl Prekopp
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.


Half Bad certainly wasn’t the typical young adult novel. It was such a dark and somber read. I was really surprised by how much time was focuses on the amount and depth of abuse that the main character gets put thru. Indeed his pain and torment was a frequently reoccurring event throughout the book. For those readers that enjoy a darker read from time to time, this book just might be for you.

In a modern day London the story follows the life of a young boy Nathan. There are white witches and black witches and he is half of each. His mother was a white witch and his father a black. His mother is dead and he has never met his father (who is hunted by the white witches). The witch society paints black witches as evil but based on the things that white witches do I would say they are just as evil. As their governing council and enforcers are the main ones that make Nathan’s life miserable.

Oh oh you hurt me so bad

Nathan has had a very rough life. He is the youngest of four children all raised by their grandmother and one of his siblings hates him vehemently. He doesn’t really have any friends outside of two of his siblings and his grandmother and the one time he makes one he is essentially tortured to warn him off. I liked the fact that he did have at least family members who genuinely loved and cared for him. It helped balance some of the more horrendous things he goes through. As there are quite a number of scenes where Nathan is physically abused and the reader is not spared details. After awhile it started to really put me off because I began to wonder where the light was at the end of the tunnel. The whole story seems centered around him growing up with the stigma of being a half black witch and whether he will be allowed to receive his witch gifts on his 17th birthday in a blood ceremony that must be performed by an adult witch of his bloodline. Of course there are some major obstacles for him there.

Nathan has a very surly personality and I don’t blame him, but I have to admit that I never did get attached to him probably largely due to that. I also think the entirely somber tone of the book just didn’t work for me. I like to have a bit of sweet with my sour if you know what I mean – and this poor kid just had too many things going sour in his life. His whole life was governed to the point of who he could talk to, where he could go, etc. After awhile I didn’t feel like there was anything positive to look forward to. While I found the premise to really interesting I don’t feel motivated to continue reading the series especially since I didn’t successfully connect with Nathan.

Thoughts on the audio narration

I adored the narration on this book. The accents were fabulous and the characterizations were spot on. Nathan’s personality was captured perfectly by the narrator and I definitely wouldn’t have made it thru the print version but the audio version added that extra oomph for me that kept me engaged in the story and made Nathan a real person for me and not just a torture victim. If you’re considering reading Half Bad I would say try the audiobook.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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10 Responses to “Review: Half Bad by Sally Green”

  1. Catherine

    A good narrator can definitely help make a book better. Unfortunately, it can be the other way around as well. I don’t mind a dark fantasy… but this sounds like it may be a bit too much for me. The worst is not being able to connect with the main character in any way. Great review Tabitha! :]
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  2. Alise

    I just read this one recently but now I am really interested in the audio, especially with the voices. All too often the accents and voices don’t match so it is exciting that they do here. Definitely agree that it was a dark read, I believe I also gave this one 3 or 3.5 stars.
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