Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2014
Synopsis for Goodreads:
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?
What I really loved about this story was it’s conflict between white witches and black witches. It calls into question the idea of nature vs. nurture. Are we born terrible or are we products of our environment. Nathan is half white witch and half black witch, but he might as well be entirely black. As the son of the world’s more notorious black witch, Marcus, Nathan never stood a chance. He is treated as though he’s a criminal. He is told that he is awful and evil and not worthy to be in the company of white witches that are not family. He has no idea how to change or escape his situation.
He is treated in horrific ways, and so he begins his journey to track down the father he’s never known. The counsel of white witches are always expecting the worst in him, although he never gives them any reason to doubt his goodness. He is capable of deep love and friendship, but he’s never given a chance. It’s infuriating how unfairly he is treated. He is considered bad before he’s even given a chance. The judgement cast on him results is terrible acts of torture and mutilation.
I was completely shocked at how Nathan is treated, but it had me turning the pages, desperate to know what happens to him. I was rooting for him the entire time, willing him to succeed. As the reader, I was never sure who to trust and who to be suspicious of. Although I’m a bit late to the game on this series, I’m so excited to check out book 2.