Friday, 10 April 2015

Half Wild by Sally Green

 
You will have a powerful Gift, 
but it’s how you use it that will show
you to be good or bad.
[The Half Bad Trilogy No 2]
Published by Penguin UK/Viking US March 2015
416 pages in hardback
Cover Art by Deborah Kaplan and team
Summary adapted from Publisher’s website
After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue
Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift - a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.
Meanwhile, Soul O'Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
The Half Bad Trilogy is set in a parallel universe occupied by witches, where light and dark, good and evil are in continuous flux.  It is a journey into adulthood, whereby Nathan must find himself, and his place in the world.  A journey of discovery that will lay bare the best and the worst of humankind.
I read Half Wild from NetGalley via the publishers in return for an honest review. 
Whatever you do – read Half Bad first. I have now read them the wrong way round – such a mistake! Some series it doesn’t matter too much which order you follow the story in, but in Sally Green’s novels it certainly does.
Not that she doesn’t keep you up to speed in the second book – the plot is clear and given short but necessary recaps at various points. Just enough to keep you going. But it’s the
emotional engagement with Nathan that will work best the right way round. The beginning of Half Bad is so gripping – and you need that grounding to empathise with Nathan.
Both books are certainly distinct from any airy-fairy whimsical view of witchcraft. In many ways, they incline more to the political and psychological thriller.  Decidedly YA territory. I should point out Sally Green does not shy away from the gory details of violence in Half Wild, though there’s not that much swearing to object to and none of it gratuitous in context.
The relationship between Nathan and Gabriel is particularly well drawn – and Celia makes a welcome and intriguing re-appearance. Marcus, of course, comes to the fore too. Those who wanted less ‘fancy writing’ and more action in book 2 get their wish – but those who love the weird stuff (other than the opening) might be a bit disappointed.
This sequel will thrill those hooked on Nathan’s complex personality and the alternative world that Sally Green has created. I don’t want to give spoilers, but it’s enough to say that the nature of Nathan’s major gift is shocking, and graphically portrayed. Not for the squeamish – but utterly part of that setting. For me, Nathan’s relationship with his environment has been one of the strongest features.
I suspect Half Wild might divide readers – some will think it reads better than Half Bad, others will find it less well-written. Much depends on how intrigued you are by Nathan’s conflicted character. If you’re in #TeamNathan already, chances are you’ll love it.
NB. When this second book is over, those desperate for more before Half Lost comes out in a year can read Half Lies. This short story gives insight into Gabriel’s backstory and character from the perspective of Michele his sister.

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