Google+ YA Romantics: Half-Bad: a Half-and-Half Review with Lauren @ Love Is Not a Triangle

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Half-Bad: a Half-and-Half Review with Lauren @ Love Is Not a Triangle


My blogger friend Lauren from Love is Not a Triangle and I discovered that we were both reading Half Bad by Sally Green. We started having a long Twitter DM conversation and decided to adapt that into a joint review. Or, more precisely, a Half-and-Half Review...

Here on my blog, Lauren and I will discuss our general feelings about the book. After that, hop over to Love Is Not a Triangle and read our discussion about characters, romance, and (of course) the Love Triangle Factor of this book.



Half Bad
by Sally Green
To be published on March 4, 2014
by Viking Juvenile

Synopsis from Goodreads: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

JEN: According to my ARC, this was the buzz book of the 2013 Bologna Children's Book Fair. What did you think overall?

LAUREN: Overall I found the book to be very readable. I got through it fast, and wanted to keep picking it up again whenever I was interrupted. However, this felt sort of prequel like to me. The point being to get Nathan to age 17 (he starts at 11 or 12).

JEN: Yes -- prequel is a good word. I enjoyed the book, but wrote in my notes that it felt like a set-up book. I'm intrigued but also left with questions as to what kind of story this series will tell.  I think all the hype didn't help - my expectations were really high.

LAUREN: I agree. I read this book with a constant sense of wondering where it was going, and the feeling never really left me even at the end. However, I still enjoyed the story and will pick up the sequel. But like you, I’m a little worried about the hype monster in relation to this series.

JEN: I just hope there is more plot to come than is hinted at in this first book. It seemed to me that there was one major story question set up by the end, and it wasn't the aspect of the story I was most excited about.  It seemed that the major question the book sets up is: (highlight for spoilers) will Nathan kill his father? And by the end of the book, the cliffhanger seemed to be: what will happen to Annalise? (end spoilers) As we discuss in part two of this review, neither you or I are very invested in that last question. Overall, I was intrigued, but wished the stakes had felt even higher.

LAUREN: I agree, the two big elements of anticipation which we are left with at the end of this book weren’t the parts of the story that I found most compelling. I’m a little more interested in a third element (highlight for spoiler) finding Gabriel. (end spoiler) But that’s not something that can carry an entire second book. I just like that character.

THE STORY WORLD

JEN: I was a little confused about the whole White Witch/Black Witch rivalry. There was the Cain and Abel story that Mary told Nathan -- the one about the good and evil twins -- but I still didn't understand what sustained the hatred between the White and Black witches to the present day.

LAUREN: Yeah. I know. The Black/White divide is historically in a lot of witch mythology. But I agree. Not much actual difference in the characters we saw in this book. They have different eyes, and Black Witches are more arrogant and less social, but that's so intangible (Hunters are described as arrogant too). It’s also not always supported in the people we meet. We encounter so many awful White Witches that I'm having trouble believing in their goodness. But maybe that's the point?

JEN: I guess. I'm a big fan of moral ambiguity in books, but when all the characters seem equally evil, I feel myself becoming more emotionally detached.

LAUREN: Definitely. I’m always interested in a good nature/nurture debate, and there’s a bit of that in this book. As well as the question of whether these White Witches are making Nathan bad by the way their treating him. But, I’m not sure I’ve actually visibly seen a difference between the White and Black witches to get why they’re different.

JEN: Agreed. I hope that we get more clarity on this in the next book.

HALF-BAD AND HARRY POTTER




JEN: This book was compared by the publisher to the works of Patrick Ness and Marcus Zusak, but I'm also feeling the influence of J. K. Rowling. I think we both felt that the Harry Potter influences were very strong.

LAUREN: Yes. We have a boy who’s one of a kind and a prophecy telling us he’ll kill the bad guy, but this time he’s the child of the bad guy. Magical artifacts (the Fairborne). Mysterious parental deaths. An unfriendly high council that produces ridiculous edicts. Anytime the word half-blood was mentioned, I thought of Harry Potter. Oh and a magical drainpipe!

JEN: Don't forget Diagon -- I mean Cobalt -- Alley, which is invisible to humans! We have a story world where witches co-exist with humans. We have Fains instead of Muggles. We have at least one character who seems to have animagus-like powers. We have a boy who's locked in a cage instead of being relegated to a cupboard under the stairs. It's the same type of story world as Harry Potter, albeit a darker one.  I have only read one Patrick Ness book -- what did you think about that comparison?

LAUREN:  I always have a big issue with the “official” publisher comparisons in general. I can see the comparison to Patrick Ness, though – he likes these boy protagonists who suffer endlessly and grow from it. I kept being told at ALA that this was like a contemporary coming of age story but with some magical elements thrown in, which I guess I can see as well.

JEN: Given the long time span that this book covers, I think "coming of age" is an apt description. And I think we both can't wait to see where things go.

Be sure to go to Lauren's blog, Love Is Not a Triangle, to read the rest of our discussion, in which we dish about Half Bad's characters and the romance factor.



If you've already read Half Bad, or don't mind spoilers, Lauren and I had an additional discussion on what we hope might transpire in the next book.  If you want to peek, just click the button below. And if you want to chat spoilers in comments please mark your comment as spoilery. Thanks!





40 comments:

  1. Woah, HP comparisons? That makes me even more excited to read this book! I love the comparisons to Ness and Zusak too. I think I'll prepare for an awesome read, thanks for the conversation ladies!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an interesting book! Let us know what you think when you've read it :)

      Delete
  2. I would marry Arran if I could - he's just so gosh darn perfect. I was confused by Nathan's devotion to Marcus as well and I have to admit to being worried about the hype as well. Like Lauren, I felt that same sense of waiting for the novel to just pick up and go somewhere. I really enjoyed the influx of emotions I felt while reading it, but I have to admit it had its flaws. I think, in terms of the White Witches, that they were supposed to be portrayed in such an ironic manner. It isn't so much that they aren't inherently evil but rather that their magic is of a purer nature as they have no motivation to kill. I really enjoyed the moral ambiguity in this novel because of that, though, and thought it was one of the strongest elements. Fantastic review, ladies! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like we're all on the same page. I really hope that the plot picks up a bit now that the story is all set up. And Arran <3 <3 :)

      Delete
  3. YAY for us! This was so much fun to put together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was fun! I have an idea for another book to discuss :)

      Delete
  4. I do not like the fact that this book has been likened to the writing of Ness and Zusak. I hate it when a book has been compared to another writer's style. Each one is supposed to be distinctive. Alright I can still tolerate that. But similarities to HP? No thank you.

    Seriously fabulous review you two. I love the layout. Sorry Lauren, SLOOWW net, will check out the other half later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that those comparisons can cut both ways. To Jeanne (above) the comparisons made her more excited to read the book, and to you, less.

      Delete
  5. What a fun idea for a post. I have Half Bad on my wish list and hopefully will buy it soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop by on Friday and enter. Open internationally :)

      Delete
  6. oooh I really like this post a lot Jen! And you made referrences to HP, so this one should be good we haven't seen a really good witch books in YA recently.

    Happy Reading!
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love this format of a review. It is like eavesdropping on a book club.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know it probably helps book sales in general but comparisons make me step away. There's a lot to live up to when a publisher starts doing that and it rarely pans out that way.

    The one most reviewers are using is the HP comparison.

    I'm glad that you both said it felt more like a prequel - I'll just go into reading the book that way and I should be fine and enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really feel like the comparisons are a double-edged sword. They do help people get an idea of what the book is like. Interesting that the publisher doesn't (at least as far as I've seen) seem to be pushing the HP angle.

      To me it read very much like a prequel. Hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  9. OMG-that spoiler button is so cool! I was kind of interested in reading this (and the HP comparison is intriguing) but right now it's not really grabbing my attention so I'll probably pass unless you give the next book a rave review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It might make sense to wait and read books one and two back to back, since this felt like a prequel of sorts...

      Delete
  10. I'm so unsure about this book. It sounds pretty awesome but I don't know if I'll like it because of how it's being hyped up. Honestly, I'm not a person who pays attention to hype usually, but some books just irk me when I see them everywhere. They go from sounding like something I'd love to something I don't want anything to do with. Love the joint review though! So fun to read these types of reviews and get two opinions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the hype is dangerous. Either you have high hopes or you just feel so cynical when a book is hyped before people even have a chance to try it!
      Glad you like the format -- we're working on another review!

      Delete
  11. I keep seeing this book, with its seriously bad-ass cover, popping up everywhere and i WANT IT SO BAD.

    Even if it is a bit of a 'set up' book, it seems like it's setting up for something really great in the next book :) I can't wait to read this myself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it's setting up something great. I will remain optimistic ;)

      Delete
  12. I do love this cover and am interested. Weird that it was more like a prequel though. I'm wondering if I should hold off until the next book releases before I check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Might not be a bad idea. Not sure what the release schedule is, but it looks like a year wait...

      Delete
  13. I rally enjoyed this book but good point about the prequel!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did enjoy it, but I guess with all the hype I was expecting it to grab me by the throat a little more..

      Delete
  14. Just finished this today! I really liked it although it was way more depressing than I was expecting. So much about Nathan's life and how horrible he was treated by everyone. The White Witches seem super evil torturing all the Black Witches. I think Nathan's devotion to his father is just this hope he has to have someone love and care for him. I also think he doesn't want to kill anyone on purpose no matter how evil but maybe he will change his mind if he sees more of his father. I liked Annalise but would like to see more of her. To Nathan she is the only stranger to show him kindness and acceptance. Besides his Gran, Arran, and Deborah everyone has been horrible so I could see how he would fall hard for her. His other sister was so mean!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, there was quite a lot of the depressing stuff.
      You liked Annalise? Really????

      Delete
  15. I WANT IT. I haven't finished reading Harry Potter...but usually I kind of get ticked off when books have too much heavy influence on other (famous) books. But this still sounds awesome! I do love the cover. But a magical drainpipe?! Woah. That's interesting. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I don't read tons of fantasy but I suppose some of those things could be general fantasy tropes. But Lauren does read tons of fantasy and she concurred.

      Delete
  16. Fabulous post, ladies. I have already discussed via email my feelings which line up almost completely with both of yours. Overall I enjoyed this book--I felt more connected to Nathan than you did Jen and I'm looking forward to seeing where the sequel goes. I love some of your predictions--especially Lauren's concerning "G" :) I love these collaborative posts--keep them coming!

    Oh--you'll have to tell me how you added the Click for Spoilers button at the bottom--very nifty!

    heading to L's next:)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Fun idea to review a book, very original :) Half Bad has been on my TBR pile a while, though now I might wait even longer 'till the second book comes out. That way I can read them right after each other :p

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great discussion on this book. I felt mixed on it myself. I so agree with the Potter references but it was much darker. I felt that it had potential but was just short of being really good. The pacing felt so off to me and I wanted to skim the last third of the book. You guys nailed it on how I felt about this as well. Do you think it'll do well in the mainstream? I can't imagine it'll be as popular as predicted. I don't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't see it having the broad commercial appeal of a HP or THG. Although the first HP book did take a while to catch on. I guess we will see what book two has in store!

      Delete
  19. OMG loved the discussion and the spoilers. I too read the book and those were some of my thoughts . I didn't like the moral too, and white witches were just as bad as black. I wanted to know more about the mother/father relationship. I agree with being a buzzed book, and the hype with Harry Potter. I had those same questions regarding his family :) Great review

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've been so busy and I'm just now getting over here to read through your posts. I've been looking at them in my email in the meantime. I will have to read this series maybe when the second book is out. This is one I didn't request because I am trying to lower my ARC count. It's hard sometimes to know what to request and what not to request. It definitely sounds like a series I would like though, maybe when I see how the second book turns out.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you'll leave me a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and try my best to reply. Leave me a link to your blog or website!

 
Blog design by Imagination Designs