One of the features here at Books Are My Fandom is our Two Peas in a Pod Review. We will read and review a book as a team. We are choosing books we each haven’t read that sound good to us. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions for books that Dani and Jamie should read!
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #1
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 4th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.
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?
Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.
I think I had a pretty good experience with this book because I listened to the audiobook. In fact, I think the narration is the only BIG positive I have for this story. It sure is the only thing I really remember a week later while writing this… Does that tell you something about the book? Probably.
But seriously, Carl Prekopp does a fantastic job at giving Nathan a voice, especially when sped up to 1.5x speed. I seriously recommend that speed because it gives the book a sense of urgency.
Oh, look at me go. I think of positives and then realise that they’re only masking problems. Because, honestly, the urgency in the narration was necessary to keep the pace up in the story. It was a slowish story at times, I won’t lie. That being said, it was enjoyable. I would say Half Bad is one of those books that you can enjoy listening to while it’s happening, but it won’t make a lasting impression on you.
Two things were interesting for me. The first was the concept of black and white witches, and how the white persecution of the black witches was so clearly meant to be a parallel for real life racial divides. In this first book, I really appreciated how it depicted reality without being too heavy. The other thing that I liked? Gabriel. From the moment we met, I loved Gabriel. He was sweet and funny and, not gonna lie, the accent got me. Mmmmm Gabriel.
On the other hand, the one thing that really didn’t work for me was the second-person perspective. It was just awkward and unnecessary. Ugh.
While there were plenty of exciting moments in the book, the one that got me was the end, and I immediately got the next audiobook lined up. I’ll concede that it wasn’t the most epic end ever to a book, as all it did was set up the rest of the series, I found myself internally fist-pumping when it happened.
Overall, I would say that you could read HALF BAD. It’s not half bad. (I’m hilarious when I’m tired.) But it’s not the best thing ever, so I wouldn’t call it a “must read”.
This book started off kind of “meh” to me since I didn’t like the second person parts, but once Nathan re-identified with himself, it was a whirlwind of adventure. However, it felt underwhelming.
Once certain pieces were mentioned in the book multiple times (and I mean multiple times), it was obvious they were actually going to happen. I would have liked more travelogue (and I hate those) to find out how Nathan got to various points in his journey after Trev. I also need more Arran and more Gabriel.
I think the worldbuilding was good though, and the mythology made sense, which is always a good sign. But I just wasn’t overly excited or anticipating anything. There was no big conflict and the ending felt extremely underwhelming. I know there is more and that this was the beginning of a trilogy, but it felt like nothing actually happened. Nathan grew up and turned 17. That’s it. That’s not even a good spoiler. The book didn’t really give much in terms of laying groundwork for a conflict; there was obviously some tension between parties, but it doesn’t seem like enough to have two more novels based on. Hopefully the second book gives a bit more.
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #2
Published by Viking Juvenile on March 24th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
"You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad."
In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he's on the run--but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.
Is it a cop-out to say that I don’t have much more to say about HALF WILD past what I said about HALF BAD? Because the things that worked in the one were pretty much the same in the other.
Once again, I loved the narration and think it took a book that I would have been bored by and made it interesting. What confused me this time round at first but then I thought was pretty nifty was that they included static in the audiobook for whenever Nathan was hearing it. Then, when he was…using his thing…there was an echoey distant quality to the narration to also set those experiences apart from the norm. The narration is still my favourite part about the story, so I’ll continue to recommend listening over reading the series.
My second favourite part is Gabriel. GUYSSS I love Gabriel and my heart breaks for him. Annalise can go be a pathetic wet blanket somewhere else. There was no chemistry between her and Nathan, and I was constantly rolling my eyes when she showed up.
The story itself was a sort of scavenger hunt. Nathan finds something, which leads to something else, which gives a clue of the next place to go, and on and on. It got interesting when the Alliance became A Thing, with all the plotting and politics that came with it. In fact, the last 20% of the book was the best because of the Alliance.
I feel like I haven’t spoken enough about Nathan, which is weird because he’s the main character. I think that’s because he’s not particularly interesting? But at the same time, I do like that he’s not the typical hero. He’s very flawed, very adolescent in his moodiness and inability to communicate. There’s something particularly British about him, and not the posh stereotype British.
In the end, this was better than HALF BAD in some ways but worse in others. I’m still of the opinion that the story is interesting enough, but it’s not something you should drop everything to read.
I really enjoyed HALF BAD and thought that there was a good mix of fantasy and intrigue to keep me wanting to continue with the series. However, I’m kind of lulled by HALF WILD. I thought that the beginning was a little slow and the end result was kind of meh. I found myself pretty passive about the entire reading experience and only interested when Gabriel or Marcus were around.
I think this book (and series) has a case of “the main characters aren’t as interesting as the side characters” and that is kind of an issue for me. The side characters are enough for me to want to continue reading but honestly I don’t care about Annalise (I think that’s her name. I already forgot) and I am only interested in Nathan when he isn’t pining over Annalise (and is pining over Gabriel).
I found the writing to be a bit choppy at times and I am still really not a fan of the use of second person in this one. I think the plot itself is interesting and I like seeing how there are half and halfs that aren’t QUITE like Nathan but have their own problems and issues as well. It has been kind of nice to see how different people’s stations affect their opinion on the politics.
I think that there could be more about the politics and maybe there will be in HALF LOST (which I will be starting asap). As much as I am a little meh about the series, I am still enjoying the magic, Gabriel, and I want to see how this ends up. I’ve spoiled myself on the ending a bit but I am still excited to see how it ends up.
Series: The Half Bad Trilogy #3
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
This is the final battle.
The Alliance is losing the war, and their most critical weapon, seventeen-year-old witch Nathan Byrn, is losing his mind. Nathan’s tally of kills is rising, and yet he’s no closer to ending the tyrannical rule of the Council of White Witches in England. Nor is Nathan any closer to his personal goal: getting revenge on Annalise, the girl he once loved before she committed an unthinkable crime. An amulet protected by the extremely powerful witch Ledger could be the tool Nathan needs to save himself and the Alliance, but this amulet is not so easily acquired. And lately Nathan has started to suffer from visions: a vision of a golden moment when he dies, and of an endless line of Hunters, impossible to overcome. Gabriel, his closest companion, urges Nathan to run away with him, to start a peaceful life together. But even Gabriel’s love may not be enough to save Nathan from this war, or from the person he has become.
Set in modern-day Europe, the final book in the Half Bad trilogy is more than a story about witches. It’s a heart-achingly visceral look at survival and exploitation, the nature of good and evil, and the risks we take for love.
I wish I could go back in time and not read the end of this book. This review might have been very different. But now? Now, I am MAD.
HALF LOST is a lot like the other books in the series, so if not for the end, I would have said that anyone who enjoyed the first two would enjoy this one. It was a solid 4 stars – well 3.5 stars plus the bonus ½ for the narration, as with the other books – but that ending made me drop stars.
Ok, quick good points… I’ve never read anything like this series before. Well, similar, but nothing that stands out as being similar. The magic system was interesting and very political. The characters were all strange and different, none completely good or bad. (Uh…maybe a couple bad…) My favourite thing was that Nathan was such a rebellious, grumpy teenager. He did his own thing and got mad at anyone who tried to tell him what to do. He was filled with grief and rage and confusion, and that definitely came through.
Oh wait, no, my favourite thing was definitely Gabriel. Still my cinnamon roll.
I was ecstatic when a certain relationship blossomed. ECSTATIC. It was a little weird to read the “and then they made love” phrases over and over. In fact, it was downright cringey at times, as much as I was happy that people were happy.
The story was a little slow at times, but it showed how organising people and attacks takes time. It started to build towards the end, as books tend to do (well done for that insight, Dani), and I was really getting into it.
THEY HAD TO GO AND KILL SOMEONE.
AND I HAVE NEVER FELT SO MUCH RAGE AT A BOOK.
I cried, and then I ranted – just ask Jamie. She knew exactly when I got to that part, and she was ready to share in my ire. Because of course THIS person had to die in the most ridiculous way possible.
And don’t get me started on the kid thing. Just. No. What even was that.
So no, I might have recommended this series before, but with that ending, I’m warning you all off of it. Go find something else.
You know what really bothers me? This last book easily could have been a 4 star read if it weren’t for the ending. The characters were more interesting, there was less Annalise, and the plot was just so much better. And then the ending happened and another openly gay character was killed and took a bullet meant for someone else. Cool. And idgaf if you see that as a spoiler because I’m mad as hell and so freaking sick of this trend.
I liked Nathan so much more in this one. I feel like he finally figured out what he wanted and how he had to act. I think his grief and way of showing it at the beginning was pretty on character for him and I liked seeing him slowly come out of that mind set thanks to Gabriel. Nathan and Gabriel were the best part of this novel and I’m very upset with the way things ended. I just can’t handle the ending tbh.
Like everything was fine up until the ending. I was enjoying the book: I thought it had better action sequences and I liked the inclusion of more magic. Meeting Ledger was great because we started to understand the magic of the world a bit better and realize that Marcus took a short cut but Nathan could do things differently — and Nathan started to see that too. Meeting Ledger also triggered Nathan into realizing that he was human still. Etc. etc. but the ending ruined everything. To the point that I am so mad and frustrated that I want to throw the book against a wall.
And what is the point of the epilogue with View Spoiler »Annalise having Nathan’s child? To make it come full circle? So that there would be another Half Code in the world « Hide Spoiler? In all honesty, I just rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Well I’ll just pretend that didn’t happen” which is how I wish I could be about Gabriel dying, but it’s so important for people, especially straight authors, to understand that having the openly gay characters in their book die in this manner is stupid and ridiculous and is a trend that needs to stop NOW. Honestly it needed to stop before it even started, but please for the love of God stop it now.
I don’t recommend this series because of this ending. The first one is interesting enough, the second one was alright, but the ending made me want to punch a wall.