Monday, 14 April 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.




Half Bad (Half Life #1) by Sally Green
Published
Source: the publisher
Rating: 2 stars

From the blurb: You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
Easy.

I am not sure what to make of this book. The very first time I heard of it was via a review on a book blog and as soon as I read the blurb about White Witches vs Black Witches I thought “Seriously?” But then this book was everywhere, with lots of positive feedback and when I saw it available here, I requested a copy. I still can’t shake the feeling that naming the groups of witches white and black was a bit of a bad idea, not to mention unimaginative and overdone.

The change in person was interesting, I didn’t mind the chapters written in second person, it made for a unique start to the story and allowed the reader to put themselves in Nathan’s position.

While the rest of the book being in first person, it didn’t make me feel all that connected to Nathan, but this could be because he’s quite untrusting and keeps a lot to himself. I did like the relationship between him, Arran, Deborah, and his Grandma. Despite attending primary school and seeming to be quite an intelligent boy, somehow Nathan gets to high school and is unable to read and write. I don’t know why this was added to his character description, but it didn’t sit right with me. Wouldn't his illiteracy have been noticed at school? And the teachers in his new high school seem to ignore the problem, too. It also means that every time he receives written instructions on his journey, he needs to ask a stranger to read them to him, again I wonder why make him illiterate when it was going to pose such an issue for him.

The time frame jumps around, starting with his captivity, then going back to his childhood, slowly information trickles in about witches, with a focus on Nathan’s father, Marcus, supposedly the worst Black Witch alive. I spent most of the book wondering why Black Witches were so bad. According to the White Witch Council, Black Witches are evil, they kill innocent people, and they need to be destroyed, but it all felt very one-sided. Perhaps this is because Nathan is kept in the dark when it comes to black witches, I assume there will be more of an explanation in the sequel, but that means this book felt incomplete.

I found a lot of the events and location changes confusing. One minute we’re in his town in England, then camping in Wales, then Nathan is in London, then he’s in a secret apartment in Geneva. All of these movements felt unconnected and unexplained, and also very coincidental.

Despite being a book about witches, there wasn’t a lot of witching or magic going on. There are many of descriptions about how when a child is old enough, they have a ceremony where they receive three gifts, drink some blood, and become a proper witch, which sounded really interesting and unique, but for most of the book, the cast felt human, not paranormal.

The story started out well, I was intrigued by Nathan’s imprisonment and his family history, what he goes through is horrific, but after a while the story started to drag and I wanted nothing more than to have this book done with. The ending especially felt quite anticlimactic and it definitely didn’t leave me craving book two.

Thank you to the fantastic people at Penguin for my review copy.



So, while I didn't like the story, I do like the cover. I was looking at the design and thinking about how to go about painting it, when I realised if you turn the cover upside down, the blood looks like a bloom of jellyfish, so that's how I painted it! But, as I was typing up this post, I noticed for the first time that the blood outlines the profile of a face - I've looked at this cover so many times and now that I see it, it seems so obvious!



I used 2 coats of Orly Liquid Vinyl. Once dry I used acrylic paint for the design.



This mani made for a nice change, it was super quick to do but I like how simple it is.



38 comments:

  1. The best part of the book is your nails! I am so glad I am not the only one I that didn't enjoy this book!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    ReplyDelete
  2. The accent nail turned out great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The reviews for this one are all over the place, I think even though I am interested in a male protagonist and the witches, I am going to skip this one. Thanks for your help!~

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry you didn't love this book but I LOVE your nails! So beautiful. the simplicity makes it incredible.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ummm I started this book ages ago, got halfway through, but it was due at the library the next day so I never finished it. AND DON'T REALLY HAVE A STRONG DESIRE TO DO SO? Like you said, it was a bit confusing and there wasn't really a connection with the character. Your nails look amazing though, duh! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I know exactly how you feel, I had to force myself to keep reading despite not caring what happened. Thanks!

      Delete
  6. Huh, I've seen some really positive reviews for this one too, and it looked interesting. But from what you've said, it doesn't sound like what I thought it was. At least you got some beautiful nails out of it!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might love it, Rach! I am defo the odd one out with my thoughts :)

      Delete
  7. Really interesting review, Amanda! I was half drawn to this book, half unsure, but I want to read the excerpt before fully deciding whether or not I think I want to read it, though from your review I'm not sure if the time switches and plot holes would bug me/make it difficult for me to follow. I didn't realise until the cover shots that the smoke/ink was formed into a face- that's so neat, though really, most things with that ink-into-water effect is practically my favourite! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who did not see the face! And you might enjoy this more than I did, Romi!

      Delete
  8. LOVE the nails...and of course you know I adored this book. ;) But I definitely understand why it isn't for everyone. I agree that the Black vs. White is kind of overdone, but for some reason I didn't even mind. I just want to hug this book forever ever and ever. xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you loved this and you were one of the blogs that really convinced me I would love this too!

      Delete
  9. I'm sorry that you didn't end up enjoying this book Mandee, I've seen a lot of praising reviews for this book around too, so its always nice to get an alternative opinion. I think I would find the scene changes a little jarring at times too. Thanks for the honest review! And I love your mani! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. First off, I totally love your nails!

    There have been loads of mixed reviews about this book. I am actually expecting Harry Potterish things to happen in the book, but you mentioned that there really isn't much witchy stuff? Aww.. that just sucks! I have this and now I don't know when I am going to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dre! This has had many comparisons to HP, and it definitely felt similar, apart from the lack of magic!

      Delete
  11. Okay.. feeling stupid. Only just realized that the red makes up a face. I keep seeing this book everywhere too! Sad to see you didn't love it. Think I'll give it a miss :)

    Kate @ Fictional Thoughts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I love that I am not the only one, it totally doesn't stand out until you see it!

      Delete
  12. I didn't see it as a face either until right before I read your comment. I guess I hadn't been looking at it close up enough. haha I like how you painted your nails though.

    Sorry you didn't really like this one. Sounds a bit anti-climatic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's like one of those inkblot pictures and we all saw the wrong thing!

      Delete
  13. I also thought it was strange that we didn't actually get much magic in a book about witches. You're right, it had a very human, almost contemporary feel. I do hope we get more background on the black witches in the sequel since it is so one sided in book one. These nails are gorgeous! I love the red accent. Thanks for your honest review! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lauren! I too hope the sequel is more fleshed-out

      Delete
  14. A good review (and I love your nails once again)! I did myself enjoy Half Bad. The thing about White Witches being good and Black Witches being bas was interesting, because obviously this is not the case in real life, even though the children in the book were taught in that way. I think the author was trying to convey the idea that nothing is simply good and evil, but the world tends to look things in black and white most of the time. And Nathan is a perfect example of that - he is seen as the son of the devil, even though he can be very sensitive and caring when it comes to his family members.

    I didn't mind that the witchery element was rather subtle, I think sometimes authors like to show off with the paranormal stuff, but for once I enjoyed a witch book that wasn't just all about "hocus pocus". :)

    Great review though, I can understand your the points you made, and sometimes the chemistry between the reader and the book just doesn't work out. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I really want you to do my nails one day! You really do amazing things. But about the book. I've been a bit worried about the whole black vs white thing too but still many people praised this book so I really want to read it. Now I think my expectations are lowered so it's a good thing. Great review, Mands :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to do your nails one day, Tanja! Yeah, not many other people seemed bother by the black vs. white element *shrugs*

      Delete
  16. I need to read this soon. Like you, I have heard a lot of good things about it. And I love the cover, too. Ours is a bit different with silver instead of black but both versions are great. I love the manicure. Super simple but striking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the silver cover too! Would love to see your take on it ;)

      Delete
  17. Absolutely lovely mani Mands but I'm sorry this book just didn't work for you. I've been seeing a lot of this book around and frankly the fact that it dealt with witches had a huge appeal to me but I think I'll pass on this one. There doesn't seem to be enough witchy-ness going around and the confusing writing style puts me off a bit :-/ Wonderful review though ^^

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm an idiot, I've seen this book everywhere and I've only just realised that the red splatters on the cover are actually a male side portrait. How the hell have I never noticed? The nails look super punk. Rock on Mands.

    I've been dying to read this one, but now I'm not so sure. I'm not usually a big fan of witches or paranormal in general unless it's more of a blended genre thing. But this sounds more as though the magical aspect is just a background story to beef the book up a bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I'm glad I'm not the only one who missed it on the cover!

      You still might like this, Kel!

      Delete
  19. I actually have only really read negative (ish) reviews of this so I never had a strong urge to pick it up even though the description sounds good. Sorry you didn't like it more though. :(
    The nails look great! They REALLY match the book perfectly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so interesting, Candace, I feel like I've mostly read really +ve reviews! And, thank you!

      Delete

Hi, hi, hi!
Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment.
My priority is to return comments on YOUR blogs because I know how much a comment can make someone's day!
If I have time I will also try to comment back on my blog.
Mands xox