Book Report: Half Bad


Have you created a book challenge for yourself for 2014? For the last seven years, I’ve challenged myself to read between 50 and 60 books (it’s escalated over the years). While a lot of people think I’m crazy, I’m telling you it’s totally doable – especially when you’ve got a hot read like Sally Green’s Half Bad on your nightstand. This YA read is one of THE buzziest titles of the year, positioned as the next Divergent / Hunger Games / Twilight / Harry Potter…you get the drift.

What’s The Buzz?: So how is a buzz book born, you ask? Half Bad made its public debut at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and created so much excitement, it was immediately signed to three dozen distribution deals globally. Part of the reason why this first instalment in a planned trilogy is so hyped up is the fact it’s about witches and wizards in England. Sound familiar? It’s hard not to draw some similarities between Half Bad and Harry Potter, but ultimately Green has come up with a world and mythology all her own. It’s a world divided into White Witches and Black Witches (‘good’ and evil, as you may have guessed). In trying to ‘protect’ the world from the Black Witches however, the White side has shown a dark side of their own.

What’s The Story?: In the briefest of nutshells, I sort of posited this book to friends and family as: What if Voldemort had a son? Our hero is a dark-haired, orphaned witch named Nathan. His father is the biggest, baddest Black Witch there is – Marcus – an elusive wizard known for murdering people so he can obtain their powers (at the age of 17, witches are given a special ability). His mother meanwhile, committed suicide after Marcus murdered her husband and the truth came out about her son’s parentage. Since then, Nathan has been raised by his grandmother and his three elder siblings in a home that is uniquely defined as half-White, half-Black, thanks to Nathan’s presence. Everyone – including Nathan – is well aware he’s mostly being kept alive and free in hopes of drawing out Marcus; a figure Nathan is more curious and longing for than afraid of. The primary questions within the novel is whether Marcus is indeed more Black than White (or vice versa) and what that means for him – after all, if a witch (Black or White) isn’t given three gifts by their seventeenth birthday, they’ll die. And thus, the clock begins counting down…

What’s The Setting Like?: A unique feature between Half Bad and most fantasy novels is Green has very much decided to place her characters in modern-day England. There is no mystical school to study at – in fact, Nathan suffers miserably with dyslexia of some sort at a regular public school – and until they are of age, witches (known as ‘whets’) generally have extremely limited powers (save for healing, which Nathan excels at). Broomsticks, cauldrons and the like are basically non-existent in this world. Instead, Green saves the magic for rather convenient plot points that also tease at what future books may bring.

How About The Pace?: Apart from the fact people are excited to read an exciting series about British witches, the other major selling feature for Half Bad is how addictive you’ll find it. Seriously, if you pick this up today, be prepared to disappear from your friends and family until you’ve finished it. The story is almost in constant motion as the proverbial noose tightens around Nathan’s neck as he simultaneously realizes he has to make some difficult, painful decisions for the sake of those he loves.

Who Should Read This Book?: Sally Green’s series is one of the few I’ve read in quite some time that have the potential to jump into the zeitgeist. Although billed as a Young Adult series, it has the right blend of action and heart to appeal to readers of any age. While the Harry Potter parallels will be drawn for better or worse, the series really channels all sorts of literary inspiration; from Holocaust novels to 1984 to newer fare, like Sophie Jordan’s Uninvited that explores a similar theme of evil arising from supposedly good intentions.

Once again, I’m very pleased to have a copy of this addictive book to give away to one lucky reader for your reading pleasure. Just don’t hate me when you blast through it and have to wait forever until the next one is available. If you’re keen to get on the next YA fiction trend before everyone else, pop down to your local bookseller today – Half Bad is freshly released and retails for $21.

1) Tell me in the comments below by March 22, 2014 – why are you interested in reading Half Bad?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around March 23, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Add this book to your to-reads list on GoodReads and leave me a link back to it ON your list (i.e. to whatever page it’s on) earn a second bonus entry.

 ***IMPORTANT*** When taking advantage of the bonus entries, please do so by leaving your base entry + each of your bonus entries in separate comments. So for example, one comment on why you want to read Half-Bad, one for a link to your GoodReads list.

***Note: The Facebook bonus entry for this promotion has been removed at the request of the sponsor. Rest assured, anyone that completed this task up to this point will still receive their bonus entry into the draw. Keep your eyes peeled on my other posts as I often include other ways to rack up more entries into my giveaways!

39 Responses to “Book Report: Half Bad”
  1. Joan G says:

    I loved the Harry Potter books and I’m sure I’d love Half-Bad as well.

  2. Julie G. says:

    I think my niece would find this book (series) entertaining.

  3. Annie Demill says:

    Sounds even better than the Harry Potter books which I loved. Looking forward to reading it

  4. Annie Demill says:

    Already liked Penguin books on facebook, left a comment :

  5. I love all supernatural genre fiction. And this series sounds like a really fresh twist on the wizardy-witchy stories already out there. And I’m really enjoying reading more YA fiction. I’ve just read Divergent and thought it was really original.

  6. neednewspace says:

    I’ve heard both good and poor reviews of this book and I’m torn. The storyline sounds right up my alley and your review addresses the issues I’ve read about pacing. I guess I’ll just have to decide for myself. Great review! Thanks. 😉

  7. Holly says:

    I challenged myself to read 5 books this year, which is a lot for me! This would help up the numbers and it sounds interesting 🙂

  8. erin mcsweeney says:

    I love all the fantasy stuff…and to read someone else’s take on it would be awesome.

  9. Susan T. says:

    I have seen so much buzz on Facebook and book blogs about Half-Bad so I am dying to get my hands on it! I haven’t read Harry Potter yet so I have no strong feelings about witches! 😉

  10. Susan T. says:

    I like Penguin Canada on Facebook as Susan Terendy. My comment on their wall:

  11. Susan T. says:

    I’ve added it to my Goodreads TBR list:

  12. Audrey Skinner says:

    I would love to win this book because the fantasy aspect makes the story intriguing.

  13. linnett says:

    I read over 100 books a year, like just about everything except Harlequin romances,love supernatural stories. Thanks

  14. Susan says:

    It sounds like a great and imaginative read!

  15. Susan says:

    Wrote on Penguin Canada’s Facebook Wall.

  16. i love fantasy books you can dream about what’s going to happen next when you are not reading the book

  17. Evan says:

    The buzz & setting each sound very appealing. Thank you.

  18. Pam says:

    Looks like a good book

  19. Grace says:

    I love fantasy fiction!

  20. beewbedard says:

    I am always interested in reading all different styles of writings

  21. beewbedard says:
  22. Anne Derkat says:

    I enjoy reading new authors and this one sounds very interesting

  23. intensev5 says:

    I would love a new book to read
    Rafflecopter name: Enelram

  24. photomum says:

    anything to do with witches and good verses evil makes an interesting book,and I love finding a great new author to read!

  25. Jessica Lord says:

    sounds intriguing

  26. CLC says:

    I work with teens and like to stay current with what they like to read.

  27. Heather Yaworski says:

    I love to read

  28. lucy says:

    looks like a good book I would like to read.

  29. cookie3 says:

    I read anything & everything, so I’d read this also.

  30. Crystal Kordalchuk says:

    It’s right up my alley of reading page gripping thrillers. Could LOVE to read this novel!

  31. Jacquie Hess says:

    I love the fantasy genre.

  32. GARRY S says:


  33. Abigail says:

    Read all of it in no time! Really good book and is so hard to put down.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] a bonus entry into my Half Bad giveaway? Tell me in the comments below – what do you think of this gift […]

  2. […] The Buzz: Sally Green’s Half Bad – the start of a new book series – was one of my favourite reads last year, and earned […]

  3. […] witches are amongst us (sound familiar?) You can check out my past reviews on the earlier books here and here to learn more, but I’ll quickly touch on the final book, Half Lost. Admittedly I […]

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