Half Wild (Half Bad Trilogy #2)
An unputdownable force to be reckoned with
Sally Green is my hero. She’s snarky. She’s an insanely talented writer. And she’s British. So, that’s the trifecta of awesome in my book. Speaking of books, if you haven’t read HALF BAD, you need to. Like right this moment. NOW! Then you can come round and read HALF WILD. These books are easily some of my top favorites.
To be honest, I was about a quarter of the way through HALF BAD when I received HALF WILD. I snatched up HALF BAD and burned through that puppy. Honestly, it was unputdownable in the most horrific way known to mankind. The first book is about Nathan’s complicated start in life. Imagine a world where an elite societal group is split between two very different classes of people: White Witches and Black Witches. The White’s stand for all that is good and pure, while the Blacks—don’t. The White Witches bring order using Hunters, a force of warriors trained in battle and who have special Gifts, or magic specialty. But the Black Witches, they are just monsters who bring anarchy and have a nasty tendency to kill their family members. Or so we’re led to believe.
And then there’s Nathan, a Half Code, half White Witch and half Black. The worst combo—ever. Worse than a Half Blood, half witch and half Fain (human).
Where HALF BAD introduces us to Nathan and how cruel the White Witch world really is—how they have no problem beating, torturing, demoralizing a child simply because he was born from an unfavorable bloodline—HALF WILD gets us right in the thick of it. We only thought the White Witches were harsh last time, now the extent of their inhumanity comes to the forefront.
Nathan’s now seventeen, he’s received his three gifts from his father, Marcus, the most hated/feared Black Witch of all time, but he’s lost everything else. His brother and sister are both lost to him, getting by in the White Witch world somehow. The Fairborn, a legendary dagger tied to Nathan’s family bloodline, has gone missing after a disastrous mission to retrieve it from the Hunters. And Nathan is holed up in a remote cave, waiting for his friend Gabriel to appear after being separated during said disastrous mission.
Adding to the mound of awesome, Nathan’s Gift has made an early appearance, only he’s not exactly sure what it is. Or rather, what he is. What he recalls is sketchy, but he does remember the blood. Not his, but the blood of those he kills while not himself. Seems this nut doesn’t fall from the proverbial tree as it’s rumored his father can transform into animals as well.
The White Witch council is restructuring after an ill-fated attempt to hold Nathan prisoner, which spurs an all out manhunt for him. Nathan is the UKs #1 Most Wanted—dead or…dead. The only way to put an end to the war between White and Black Witches is to join (read: be the figurehead) for the Alliance, a group of rebel witches and half breeds who want a different life. But are the motives behind the Alliance true? Or is Nathan being pulled into something that will only get him killed?
The set-up behind these books is insanely intriguing. Sally Green blows everything you think you know about witch stories all to smithereens. There is no good side or bad side, but a ginormous blend of both. It’s very real, actually. There is good and bad in all of us, and HALF WILD really shows that. What you think should be good and true is actually nothing more than a false cover concealing the hideous nature of bad people. On the flip side, those who should be evil and inhuman wind up being the people whom you can trust most. After reading both HALF BAD and now HALF WILD, I’m still not sure who the “good guys” are, and I don’t think I’m supposed to. And I love that!
Let’s also talk characters. I could go on and on about these people Sally Green brought to us. We met Gabriel in HALF BAD, and we get even more of him in HALF WILD. The bond between Gabriel and Nathan is so…beautiful. Gabriel loves Nathan, that’s no secret, but it’s more than that. Gabriel is one of the very few people who can bring Nathan out of his shell. When Nathan is with Gabriel, we SEE Nathan, the real Nathan and not this monster he believes himself to be or the abomination the White Council thinks he is. Gabriel is also the only person who can get Nathan to talk, to get things out and off his chest. He’s so used to bottling everything up that it’s hard for him to express himself properly. It’s Gabriel who taught Nathan that he doesn’t hate his father for everything he’s done, or not done, he’s just very angry.
Annalise, the girl Nathan has loved since he was a scared young boy, kind of has this ability. We definitely see Nathan’s softer side when he’s with her, but she doesn’t love Nathan anywhere as much or as deeply as Gabriel. Nor does she know Nathan like Gabriel does. But Annalise was the first person outside Nathan’s small family who saw the real Nathan. He’s just a boy who was never given a fair chance at life. From day one, he was the enemy for simply being born. Annalise looked past that, and Nathan loves her for it.
Nathan himself is brilliantly written. Since the books are written in first person from Nathan’s point of view, we get front seats to what he’s going through. Not once did I ever question Nathan as a character. And more importantly, not once did I ever question him being a teen boy. He’s one of the most complicated, flawed, yet sublimely perfect characters I’ve read in a long while. Nathan is innocent, terrifying, sweet, fierce, reckless, reserved, and funny. One minute he’s immobilized by fear, but then the next he’s walking into a drawn blade, letting it puncture his skin to show he won’t back down. He has very real motivations and reacts to the situations around him in a very real way. He’s a simple guy with simple dreams of a simple life stuck in a war that’s anything but simple.
When I say HALF WILD is unputdownable, I mean it. Not once does the pace let up to the point of dragging. Even in scenes where there’s not a whole lot of action, you’re kept on your toes. Because Nathan pretty much questions everyone’s loyalty, you as the reader are never sure if he’s truly safe. Hunters could rain down at any moment, and you feel that through every page.
Some people knock the mixture of second and first person writing in this series. I say, “Pfffft!” It doesn’t bother me one iota. Besides, it’s so well done it just adds an extra bit of surreal-ness to the story. More than once I had to remind myself that this was a work of fiction and I couldn’t actually maim Wallend.
If you haven’t picked up these books yet, please do. You will hurt for Nathan, you will bleed with him, you will cheer for him, and you will want to scream at him. You will want to shake your fist at the White Council and yell at them that he’s just a kid! To leave him be.
In the end, HALF WILD is a chest bursting, gasp evoking, heart-wrenching look at the less favorable side of humanity. HALF WILD is everything I want in a great book. It has mystery and suspense, heart and humor, and a raw undercurrent that will punch you in the chest. HALF BAD created Nathan. HALF WILD set the creation loose.
A Bit Slow, But Still a Brilliant Sequel
I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was excited to finally dive into this sequel! This book does have middle book syndrome, so it's very slow-paced, but I still enjoyed it!
This book takes place shortly after the events of Half Bad. Gabriel is currently missing, or dead, and Nathan keeps checking to see if Gabriel has showed up. He also still has to evade the Hunters and to make things even more difficult, he's having trouble controlling his Gift. Oh, let's not forget that he still needs to save Annalise. To top it all off, people now what him to join some kind of Alliance. The leader of the White Witches in Britain have no started to kill all Black Witches in Europe, as well as White Witches that don't 'agree'. The Alliance want to put a stop with it and think Nathan would be a great fighter for the cause.
This book is really really slow-paced. Enough happened to keep me interested, but this book was mostly leading up to the next book. There's a whole lot of planning, deciding, flashbacks, and fighting. Some of it was important, but there weren't really huge action-packed events until the end.
The writing and the world-building in this book is great! I know some people don't really like the oddness of some of the writing, but I think it's very interesting and unique! As for the world, I love it! It's a very harsh magic system, but I think it's very different and, again, I think it's very interesting! We don't get to learn a whole lot more about it, though, in this book, but the system is still there. In fact, it's becoming even more darker.
As for romance, it's probably one of the oddest romance I've ever had in a book, and I've read hundreds. Gabriel likes Nathan and Nathan likes Annalise. Nathan thinks he only likes Gabriel as a friend. I say thinks because I really like Gabriel and I completely ship them. Annalise is okay, but she's kind of the typical girl character I see in YA.
All in all, this book has middle book syndrome, so it is a bit slow, but it's still necessary. I love the imagination in this series and this book ended in such a climatic way, that I can't wait to read the next book!