Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Half Bad by Sally Green, a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches. Read by the actor Carl Prekopp.
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.
Sally Green lives in north-west England. She has had jobs (paid and unpaid) and even a profession but at last has found the time to write down the stories she used to only be able to daydream about. She likes to read, walk in the country and would like to drink less coffee. Half Bad is her first novel.
©2013 Sally Green; 2014 Penguin Books Limited
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"A Vicious World"
I have to give kudos to Sally Green: Half Bad is extremely original in plot, characterization, and style. Told in a freeform stream of consciousness, the writing fits perfectly to a story of complete and utter hopelessness. But at the same time, the book is so unrepentantly mean, so completely lacking in any person with any redeeming qualities, that this becomes a form of torture porn. Bad guys are evil and the good guys are evil - we have non stop scenes of every nearly every form of abuse imaginable (save sexual, oddly). That pervasive purgatory of dread and meanness did make for a difficult read (or listen in this case, due to an Audible experience). Any time I stopped, it was very difficult to pick this back up again.
Story: Nathan is half white witch and half black witch. Trapped between the bitter war of the two, he is viewed with disdain, disgust, and suspicion. Will he turn out like his 'evil' black witch father or turn to his mother's 'good' white witch powers? As the day his powers will manifest nears, the council of white witches tighten the noose on Nathan, taking the torture and physical abuse to new levels in their certainty that he will turn to the black. By the time Nathan falls for a pretty young white witch, the council's final solution on keeping him controlled is to put him in a cage all night with beatings all day. Nathan knows he must escape and find his father - and learn who he really is, white or black.
Author Green resists making Nathan completely good or a martyr - he is mostly an anti-hero in which we sympathize with the horrors of his life. The book is about taking his bad situation and making it much, much worse with each page turn. Nathan's resentment, anger, bitterness, and resilience are the heart of the story; he can't read, is greatly restricted, and only through innate healing powers manages to survive to see the new day. As he nears his 16th birthday, and will commit fully to white or black witch, the white council of witches enact succeedingly more draconian measures to ensure they don't end up with another black witch on par with Nathan's father. It's about one evil deed on that kid after another.
Those expecting the white witches to be evil and the black to be actually the good guys will need to read another book. Pretty much everyone is selfish, vicious, and willing to kill or hurt to their own aims. For me, it was a bit too heavy and I needed a story with more redeeming characters. As well, nearly every situation in the book is set up so that Nathan is beaten, tortured, or betrayed. Even the love triangle near the end telegraphed far too clearly how Nathan's situation is going to take even worse turns as he learns to trust and love (both weapons). By the end, I was glad the book was finished and just wasn't interested in continuing. It was too depressing and dark for my tastes.
I listened to the Audible version of this book and the narrator did an excellent job - it's a story that could have been greatly ruined by a lesser talent.
"Not your average YA teen witch story!"
I haven't actually finished this yet, but am enjoying it so much that I felt the need to review it. This is partly due to the excellent narration by Carl Prekopp. It's an article of faith with me that I'd rather listen to a bad book with a great narrator than a good book with a poor one.
It starts right inside Nathan's mind in a shockingly brutal scene and takes up the story in flashback. The picture of the magical world is naturalistic and convincing. Things are only revealed gradually via the protagonist's experience so there's no long exposition about witch society.
It's traditional in these reviews of compare books to other books, isn't it? So let's go with Harry Potter crossed with Kes.
If you enjoy supernatural young adult fiction set in Britain and also like Carl Prekopp's narration, I highly recommend you check out the Mercian trilogy: Blood, Alchemy and Death.
"I need to read the sequel - NOW!!"
Excellent story told in an excellent way! Narration was excellent too. Would thoroughly recommend - there's a reason it won Best Book at the Waterstones awards..... cuz it's fab!!
Wow, do I feel lucky to have stumbled on this. Not only a great story, but a great story superbly narrated! When I was, appropriately enough, half way through this book, I decided I would write a review. Well, not so much a review (as this is one story that deserves to be approached as unspoiled as it is possible to be in this day and age) rather a maxxed out stars plus a few more stars for good luck - recommendation. I love reading tales where the author clearly has a complete understanding of the world the characters inhabit; and a complete understanding of all the characters, no matter how much or little is revealed to the reader. This is the epitome of that; and I enjoyed every moment of living with Nathan and his family, friends and enemies. Carl Prekopp does this story justice and then some. I haven't been this impressed by a narrator since listening to David Thorpe read Karen Maitland's Company of Liars. It's an amazing tour de force. Oh my, I am gushing, aren't I? Okay, okay. There is one thing that gets on my nerves and it's this. (Some might consider this a spoiler; I'd call it a caution...) The book has an abrupt "... and then..." climax, assuming you'll be back for the next. At time of writing, the Kindle edition of the sequel, Half Wild, isn't due until 5 March 2015 - aaargh! Hopefully the audiobook will be released simultaneously and some thoughtful person has already booked Carl Prekopp for a recording session. It's such a good story, though, that I'm going to forgive being left hanging just this once; but if such apparent complacency is the sort of thing that drives you up the wall then you might want to wait until just before the next book is published to start on this. It'll be worth the wait. But I wouldn't have the willpower to hold off after reading / listening to (I frequently found myself reading the text along with the audiobook - I didn't want to be racing through it by reading alone) the first few paragraphs. You'll love it. Seriously. It's that good.
"Uniquely written and an audible triumph"
Brilliantly crafted trilogy that draws you in to the characters: by the way it's uniquely written in the first person from a spoken diary. Add this to the amazing reader and audible sound effects that appear more in the following two books, which were not over done- makes these the best audible books I have read since joining three years ago. Had to buy additional credits because I couldn't wait as I became emotionally invested into the character. You must read all three books in order.
"Not Half Bad"
I really got into this story , now impatient for the 3rd book.
A bit like Harry Potter in that a boy is growing up without parents. His father is the dark and his mother the light. Prophecy about what he will do when he grows but treated badly as people expect the dark side of his nature to win out. This eventually polarises the people around him.
it's a dark and mysterious adventure. you cling to the characters especially Nathan. you feel his life and world evolved in your mind. - great storyline.
"This book is truly Half Bad."
“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog”
Take a boy and make hims cared
scar his back and make him black
kill his mother give him dread
mix this and that with the wing of bat
make him run make him love
cook some children on a stove
the money calls for more blood
and that, could never be bad
chase the boy, and make a deal
o what a thrill to make a meal
of nothing at all, and then make sequel
that is the exact equal of nothing at all
To take Harry Potter add more dread and horror and blood till it will only be readable by 17+, is a clever marketing idea, and could work well because the writer is dynamic in its delivery and has a lot potential but this book is only the first part of a serialise vehicle that can not stand on its own; of a myriad of plot questions only one is resolved everything else is left hanging mid air. You are expected to pay more good money to get the hole story. Steven King serialised The Green Mile and I gladly paid for each booklet because that was the agreement. I loved getting the next instalment and reading it; he had not finish the book, he was writing it as we paid for every part; but when it was finished he sold the entire book as a book.
If you are happy to pay for a and inconclusive story and are informed that that is what you are getting, fine. but to end the book in a cliffhanger is not fair to readers.
You have been informed.
A must read the narration is amazing!!!
Carl Prekopp is definitely someone I will look out for in future.
"Sad but boring"
The beginning of this book was so boring that I started it and then I had to stop 4 or 5 times before I managed to finish it! Only when I had gone about 3 quarters through the book that I found it a bit more bearable! Also I found it very cruel. The things that was done to that young boy was so sad! If there is a sequel I cannot imagine listening to it unless it was free of charge.
"Absolutely amazing book"
loved it, we started reading it in my English class and just had to finish reading it, or well have someone read it to me xD
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