Half Bad: Review

February 27, 2014 2 star books, 2014, fantasy, Kim, witches 88 ★★

Half Bad: ReviewHalf Bad by Sally Green
Series: Half Life #1
Published by Viking on March 4, 2014
Genres: fantasy, paranormal
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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two-stars
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?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

Well, I guess I can be excited because Half Bad taught me something new: I’m not a fan of second person present tense narration. The first 20 pages are written as such and I found myself incredibly distanced. I had to quickly skim ahead a bit to check that this did not continue throughout and, whew! Bullet dodged! We switch to first person present but, sadly, I didn’t find that much better. There is a lot of “I do this. Nothing happens. I feel this. Character appears. She performs action. I perform action.” No, literally. Just substitute in the sparse verbs and adjectives and that is how it reads. The writing style is very choppy and disjointed and only further served the distancing I initially felt.

Also, I think that you should be aware that the first 40% of this book is flashback filling in on Nathan’s backstory leading up to how exactly he ends up in that cage. I actually did find that portion interesting. My attention was engaged with the details of Nathan’s sad childhood. Seeing the ways in which an innocent child is judged and punished for things beyond his control serves its purpose in making the reader sympathize and cheer on the MC.

Unfortunately, once we get to the present, everything just starts to drag out. The pacing really slows down. One of my biggest complaints with this book is that so little happens over a long stretch of time. All of the interest happens before the events of the synopsis! That is not good. The latter 60% is just drawn out and full of repetitive angst on Nathan’s part. There’s a good portion where he’s just sitting around an apartment waiting for clearance to move on to the next part of the plot. He spends his time being angry and, like I’ll mention below, beating up his friend. Ooooooookay.

In my ARC copy, the climax begins on page 376. The book ends on page 386. That’s how off the pacing is for this story. It probably also has the distinction of being one of the most anti-climatic climaxes ever. I found myself just sat there, so bored, saying, “Really?” It then dumps you off in a cliffhanger ending right in the middle of the action. Eurgh, no.

Now, Nathan. This is a kid who’s not had an easy time of it by any means. It’s so easy to sympathize with him. With his father MIA and his mother long dead, he’s raised in a White Witch household led by his grandmother alongside three half siblings. All of his family members love him,with the notorious exception of his sister Jessica. Jessica regularly abuses Nathan both verbally and physically from a very young age. I can’t help but think that this book would absolutely be triggering to child abuse survivors, so there is my official warning. It really is disturbing and heartrending to read of the abuse Nathan endures from childhood to adolescence. Anyone with a beating heart would root for him to rise above his tormentors and ultimately triumph.

And I do. I really do. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to care about Nathan himself. I partially blame the disjointed writing style mentioned above as I think it prevented me from connecting with him. He’s much more relatable in the initial backstory portion of the book. When we switch to the present, however, Nathan basically becomes a huge ball of impotent rage. There is a lot of angst and anger and, while understandable, it is not presented in a way that makes you care or even want to care.

He's baaaaaack. I think he needs a name. What say you?

He’s baaaaaack. I think he needs a name. What say you?

Nathan is also consistently “sure of” many things for which he really has no good reason to be. He is sure that his father really loves him despite abandoning him for 17 years. He is sure that he will die unless he receives the three Gifts of the traditional witch coming of age ceremony. He has no evidence upon which to base such absolute certainty, and yet he does. This just comes across as foolhardy to me and does not serve to endear him.

Especially in the latter portion of the book, Nathan becomes increasingly unhinged. He lashes out violently against one of his only allies, strangling and head bashing a friend over a relatively harmless deception. That’s not a hero (or even an anti hero, given how this book purports to be about the complexity of blurring good and bad) I can get behind. These are maturity issues which, perhaps, will be addressed in later volumes, but I’m already too uninterested to stick around and see.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the “love interest.” Not only is Annalise bland and uninteresting, she has no agency. Annalise spends her time in this story being bossed around and manipulated by her brothers and getting attacked by others. That’s it. She does not exist as her own person. Just a collection of harmful tropes. She is dangerously close to being an actual damsel in distress. It’s insulting. Especially because it is deliberately mentioned that female witches have stronger Gifts than males. Really? Nothing to show for it there.

I don’t know about you, but my enjoyment of a book will generally come down to how much it made my heart pang, or wrench, or break. Those are the experiences I am ultimately looking for in my reading, always. The most feeling I actually had from this entire book was from Nathan’s brother, Arran. Portrayed as a genuinely sweet boy, he is protective, caring, and loyal to Nathan through the very end. I had, perhaps, a mini pang when Nathan and Arran had this sweet exchange:

I sit on my bed and ask, “Do you get a lot of stick for being my half-brother?”

“I’m your brother.” And he gives me that look of his, the most gentle person in the world look.

And that was it for me in terms of feels.

The world building is also sorely lacking. It’s a world of White (good) Witches and Black (bad) Witches, yet all signs point to both being sort of terrible. There is an attempt at myth-telling to explain the differences between Black and White, but it was clumsily executed and hard to follow. It really didn’t make anything clearer in any way.

At one point, Nathan’s brother Arran gives a Harry Potter-esque speech about how it isn’t what Nathan is, but how he chooses to use his Gift that will make him good or bad. Okay, but is that not then true of all witches? Why are White Witches who are obviously doing bad things still regarded as good? I don’t think we ever see an example of a Black Witch behaving particularly decently so I can’t ask the question.

I have to confess, I really don’t understand what this book was going after with this supposed “racial allegory.” Honestly, it made me really uncomfortable. I felt like the author (a white woman) had this half baked idea about how she would create this super gray, complex world full of nuanced characters to tell us that Racism Is Bad. Yet, all of the Black Witches are actually evil and our Half Black main character isn’t a peach himself. Are you cringing just from that sentence? I am. The only characters who we see both good and bad sides of are White Witches. As an allegory, I found it ineffective, and frankly, insulting.

The premise had so much potential, but the disconnected style, lack of effective world building, dragged out plot, weak characters, and clumsy messaging left much to be desired.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review. All quotes from an uncorrected advance proof.

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Did you love this book? Do you want to tell me how wrong I am? Please feel free. I am always looking to learn from differing opinions!

kim teal

 

 

 

 

 

88 Responses to “Half Bad: Review”

  1. Victoria T

    I have heard a lot of good things about this book but it just doesn’t interest me. I don’t know if it is because I am judging it by the cover or if the story line just is not up my alley but I am not sure if I want to read it. Maybe after I dwindle my TBR pile down a bit, I’ll pick it up and give it a chance :)

  2. J. Oh

    I so appreciate your thoughts on this book, as I was trying to decide if I wanted to read it or not. Not being a huge fan of witches, I wasn’t immediately hooked by the premise, but because of the press about Half-Bad becoming a huge phenomenon, I was considering reading it. But a choppy writing style and characters I can’t root for would be a huge problem for me–and I’ve read too many poor romances in YA novels lately to particularly want to have another go at getting emotionally invested in a bland love interest.

    I may still end up reading a chapter or two to see if I’ll be able to get into the rest of the book, but I suspect that my initial instinct was correct and I’m probably going to feel okay skipping this book.

    • Kim

      They are putting a *huge* publicity campaign behind this book. Honestly, the things I’ve seen have kind of annoyed me but that’s probably also just because I didn’t care too much for the book. I will say that it’s not so much that the romance is “poor” as that it is non-existent. There really isn’t much of it. A few flashback scenes and that’s it. But what we do see of Annalise is so bland, bland, bland. Meh. I think it’s worth giving it a shot but if you’re not feeling it in the beginning it’s safe to say you won’t enjoy it overall.

  3. Paige Garrison

    I’m still trying to figure out if I like this one myself. I’m half way through and haven’t yet decided if I want to keep reading or not. Something is pulling me onward, but I don’t know if it’s hyper other folks have given it or not,.

    • Kim

      I had that sort of strange feeling as well. Some books are just more readable than others. Even though I didn’t feel super connected I did keep the pages turning and time would whiz by like nothing at all. Then when I got to about the halfway point things started to majorly slow down and my interest flagged pretty severely. Oh well. I hope you end up enjoying it a lot more than I did!

    • Kim

      Soooo many people love this one, though, Lena. I find that even when the plot slows down, if you’re invested in the characters it practically doesn’t matter. I was never fully connected with Nathan so I didn’t have much patience for it. You might have a totally different experience! You should still check it out since you were so looking forward to it!
      Kim recently posted…Introducing: Stray with Elissa Sussman + Giveaway

  4. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I just read and reviewed this one myself so now I’m coming back to read yours. I felt very similar. I enjoyed the first bit but then, as you say, it dragged. The writing felt loose the further I read –the only excuse I could find was that it had to do with Nathan’s emotional disconnection. But honestly, just felt like the author lost some of the initial punch and drive. You nailed it on so many points-wonderful, concise review!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Half Bad by Sally Green

  5. Thomas

    Patrick Ness and Marcus Zusak are huge names to live up to, so I’m sorry you did not enjoy this book. You write your criticisms well – the present tense second person narration does sound like it would lead to a disjointed paradigm if not presented well. Thank you, too, for the trigger warning about child abuse: many authors write it well, but it might be necessary to avoid this book if it’s shown in an unappealing way. Great review as always!
    Thomas recently posted…One More Person

    • Kim

      You know, I really don’t think putting those author comparisons on the book itself does it any favors. It is really not like either Ness or Zusak. I truly don’t understand the comparison. Trouble male protagonist? Is that what they’re basing that on? Please. Make it a little broader why don’t you.

      I definitely don’t think the abuse was handled particularly well or respectfully. It’s just there to make you sympathize with the character and then move on along. I imagine it could be very upsetting for many. Combined with the disjointed writing and the other problems…meh. Not for me.
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  6. Tabitha

    Thank goodness I read your review before I gave into the compulsion to buy this one tomorrow. I have issues with abuse not that I cant handle reDing it but that coupled with the narrative and slow muckity muck it sounds like this has way too much flashbacks wouldn’t be a good match for me. Excellent, firm, and yet still tactful breakdown! Thanks
    Tabitha recently posted…Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

    • Kim

      Yeah, and I wouldn’t say that the abuse is handled particularly well either. It’s not really given the respect it deserves and that’s unsettling. The whole lot of nothing going on is what bothered me most in the reading of it. It’s sooooo long. Nothing happens. Argh. I’m glad I could be helpful!
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  7. Savannah

    OMG! I almost DNF the book within the first 20 pages. I got so frustrated and it felt hard for me to be in the characters shoes. Still, I read on and managed to fall into Nathan’s shoes. But some parts I have to admit made my blood boil. So. much. BULLYING! It was nevertheless a great book. I really liked it. Thanks for being honest.
    Savannah recently posted…Book Blast: Half-Bad + Giveaway

    • Kim

      I’m glad you ended up liking it! I knew from the first page that if the entire book was like that it was going to be rough. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. But unfortunately, I still felt distanced when it switched to first person. The bullying was tough to read. :( I did really for bad for Nathan. But not enough overall, I guess. Whoops. :\
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  8. Bethzaida (bookittyblog)

    Yikes. I really don’t like flashbacks in books. I’m ok with one or two but I hate it when it happens in every other chapter. I really don’t feel like I would like this one. This is not the first review that has given Half Bad a low rating. So I’m staying away from it.
    Bethzaida (bookittyblog) recently posted…Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Review

    • Kim

      To be fair, it really isn’t like that (which I agree can be really, really annoying) where every other chapter is back and forth. The first 40% is just backstory. Like, Nathan is telling you exactly how he ends up in the cage. Then it picks up in the present. But either way, meh.
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  9. Alise

    Second person narration? *narrows eyes* Yeah, I would not like that either. Luckily it didn’t last that long, though! Love the black sheep graphic, haha. The love interest sounds like she has more than a few issues and is filled with cliches. Bad world building too? Eh, I’ll probably avoid this one. *cough* like the plague *cough* Great review, Kim! :D
    Alise recently posted…Review: Rose Under Fire by Ellizabeth Wein

    • Kim

      I mean it *is* only for the first 20 pages. And I was surprisingly over it by the time it switched to first person during the initial flashback portion of the book. It’s really not so bad in that it is relatively short. It’s just never good to start a reading experience with side eye, you know? It’s too bad, really. But at least I can be helpful!

      I know! I love the black sheep graphic! It makes me so happy that Wendy made it for us. :)
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  10. A Canadian Girl

    Oh no! I haven’t read too many books with witches so I was interested in reading this one. I guess I won’t be now :( I hate when books only get interesting near the end and then you get a cliffhanger; time feels so wasted! I also don’t like angry, angsty protagonists. Hope your next read is better, Kim.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Review: My Life With The Walter Boys by Ali Novak

    • Kim

      Lots of people seem to love it so I do think it’s still worth a shot if you spot a copy in the library. Yeah, nothing was happening for the longest time and then the last few pages *bam!* *action!* *cuts off in the middle of the action* No thanks.
      Kim recently posted…Murder of Crows: review

  11. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Oh drat. Yet another book that doesn’t live up to the hype. There seems to be an army of books about to be released or released recently that look EXCELLENT (I mean look at that blurb. What’s not to like?), and turn out to be awful. And you are right–first person present tense can be incredibly distancing (not to mention aggravating). And a cliffie after a last-ten-pages anticlimax? Thanks, but no thanks. Your honest review is greatly appreciated :)
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

    • Kim

      Yeah, I just don’t get the hype on this one. I’m really not a fan of angst ball, ragey teen boy characters. It’s mostly the rage that gets me. Stop beating up your friend, dude! The writing was both distancing and aggravating for me. Unfortunate. I’m just glad I can least be helpful with my reviews when it’s a dud!
      Kim recently posted…The Golden Compass: Discussion + March Book Announcement

  12. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Wow, thanks for your honest review Kim! This was honestly not what I expected of Half Bad from reading the blurb, and it sounds like there’s some uncomfortable talk of racism and abuse here. The synopsis reminds me a lot of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman but unfortunately, sad to hear this one didn’t live up to standards. I’m interested in reading it still, think I’ll go in expecting this though.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Happy Birthday Fire Country: Giveaway, free eBook & Interview with Siena

    • Kim

      Soooo uncomfortable. The abuse is really, really sad. I’m not super familiar with Good Omens but it’s on the never ending to-read list. *sigh sigh* I am sending you my best wishes that you enjoy this more than I did!

  13. Faye @ The Social Potato

    UGHHH. You’re pretty spot on with your criticisms here. The one that threw me off was the pacing. I remember saying in my review of this one that it was oddly paced… we get a drawn out picture of his past, and a longer one of his pretty much going from one place to another (which I really felt was boring D: ) and then the climax, that one meeting we’ve been waiting for, that reunion we’ve anticipated since the start of the series… turns out to be anti-climactic. OHHHH HOW MUCH I WANTED TO RAGE AT THAT MOMENT! It left me feeling nothing when it should’ve been epic. I was so disappointed by that >< It became harder to connect to him :( So, yeah, I understand your sentiments here.

    I still want to read the next installment but I'm expecting it with… erm, less enthusiasm.

    Great review, Kim! :)
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…Review: Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop – Hell to the YES!!

    • Faye @ The Social Potato

      Okay for some reason my comment got cut off lol. THAT IS NOW THE COMPLETE COMMENT I WROTE. I also agreed with his suddenly becoming an angsty and angry character. If you remember he was pretty calm and calculated when he showed his past, so I was really confused when his personality did a complete 180 turn when we got to the present (him running away). And what did you think of the love interest? I didn’t like her :( She was a complete doormat :(
      Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…Review: Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop – Hell to the YES!!

      • Kim

        Yes, the pacing is soooooo off. It made for a disconcerting reading experience! And *why* was that climax so anti-climatic?! Seriously. And it really shed no further light on Marcus’ character at all. Ugh. What a frustrating reading experience. Yeah, Nathan’s sudden turn into a rage machine was irritating. The love interest was boring and bland and a pawn. Also untrustworthy! Why was he so sure of her “love” and her “innocence”? Stop it, Nathan. Use your brain, son! Ugh, I’ll keep an eye on reviews for Book 2 so if it’s any better but I don’t have high hopes.
        Kim recently posted…The Golden Compass: Discussion + March Book Announcement

  14. Dre @ Sporadic Reads

    I am not a fan of stories with witches in it, I can probably try reading this, but after reading the bit about RACISM IS BAD, and is offered up in a half-baked manner is loathsome. Too bad that the world-building didn’t really work either. With fantasy books hovering over our heads left and right, authors should at least perfect their world. That makes their story much more engaging and awesome. Sad this didn’t work out :(
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…The Weekly Roundup #001

    • Kim

      Yeah, if you already don’t like witches this definitely won’t be your thing. And yes! The half baked racism lecture is quite loathsome. You are right. It’s probably especially bad that the world building doesn’t work because it’s pretty much *our* world just with a secret society of witches living in it. But there’s never a full fleshing out of the society, no real understanding of it and what the actual difference is between the “White” and the “Black” witches. Hmph.
      Kim recently posted…The Golden Compass: Discussion + March Book Announcement

  15. Alyn

    I was really looking forward to this book but I’m about ready to take it off my TBR list after reading so many bad reviews about it. Well, I’ll most likely hold off on it and see what people have to say about the second book too.

  16. Melliane

    oh that’s really sad… so many points to note. I confess that if you start and have a problem with the narration, it’s already a lot but the other things are important too and well 376 pages it’s a lot. I’m sorry it was a disappointing one.
    Melliane recently posted…Grim

  17. Kate Bond

    Sounds awful.

    Thanks for dropping in a trigger warning. I wish people did this more often, because it can really destroy a person’s experience while reading a book.

    • Kim

      I feel fairly confident that you would hate this one, Kate. Stay well away.

      And yeah, I try to be really mindful of things that can be triggering but I can still do a better job. It’s really the least one can do. I had a fairly upsetting run in with a book recently so it was at the front of my mind to include it here. Blergh.
      Kim recently posted…Half Bad: Review

  18. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I finished this book and was in a bit of a haze since it took me through such a whirlwind of emotion, feeling rage, fear, and pain for Nathan, but when I step back, it isn’t ALL that great. I definitely do believe that the world-building is lacking and though I enjoyed this a great deal more than you did, I understand where you’re coming from since narrative tone and perspective is totally a hit-or-miss with me regarding certain novels. Wonderful review, Kim – you bring up some excellent points.
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: House of Sand and Secrets by Cat Hellisen

    • Kim

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this more than I did, Keertana. It sounds like you were able to connect with Nathan much more than I was. Your reading experience is the one I wish I had. All messed up in a haze of emotion! Ah well, better luck next time!

  19. Kate @ Ex Libris

    Ok, well, the racial allegory was completely lost on me, so there’s that. (oops)

    I loved this book, but I knew when I was reading it that it would be a hit or miss for a lot of people for all of the reasons you stated in your review. (I agree about Annalise) In a way, and I know this will sounds weird, it reminded me of The Magicians. (Not in plot, but in feeling.) I also felt that book went long periods without a lot happening and had a detached feel to it, but I really liked that one, too, so maybe I have issues. ha!

    Great point about the trigger warning, though. I’m definitely going to put that in my review.
    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…The Summer I Found You By Jolene Perry

    • Kim

      You know, I haven’t read The Magicians yet, but I did read a short story recently set in that world from the Dangerous Women anthology. And I have to say I do understand what you mean. There was definitely a similar feeling. So not so weird after all. :)

      Nah, you don’t have issues. :p I think “nothing really happens” often enough in books but when we really care about the characters its like a non-issue. If I was invested Nathan I would be much interested and forgiving when not a lot is going on. For instance, I really love the ASOIAF series and I think it’s fair to say that there are good, long portions of the series where not much happens plot wise. But, I love the characters and am so engaged by them that I still find it interesting anyway. So I get what you mean!

      Yes, I wish trigger warnings were more common. This book wasn’t triggering for me but that there are several issues/scenarios that can be and it feels like getting thrown out of the reading experience and into reality in the most abrupt, usually painful, way. No thanks!

    • Kim

      Yeah, it’s a bummer to not really care for a book. But, it makes me feel better that I can share my opinion and hopefully help out some fellow readers! I feel like I’m making a difference! :p

  20. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I liked this book a bit better than you did, but I agree with many of your thoughts. Jen from YA Romantics and I posted a dual review/discussion this week and echoed a lot of what you said here. 1) Annalise is HORRIBLE as a love interest. I hope that goes away soon. I actually think she might betray him later, or at least he’ll have a big wake-up when he realizes she’s a pawn and weak willed. 2) I don’t understand Nathan’s constant devotion to his father or Annalise or as you pointed out, why he assumes many things to be true. 3) I completely concur with your Black/White witch discussion/confusion. I get that the B/W divide is big in witch mythology, but it’s not presented well here. 4) This plot felt like a prequel to me. And directionless, except to get Nathan to a certain age. Even when the book was over, I was confused about the point of it all and where it was headed next. 5) I LOVE Arran. SO MUCH. I actually also love Gabriel and I have a theory about him. This is why I didn’t mind the part about Nathan in his apartment. 6) This book had a lot of parallels to HP. 6) Jessica makes a good villain, but I agree. Her abuse was hard to read. As was the back carving scene. This is why the book is compared to Patrick Ness’s books. He likes to torture his boy MCs too. 8) I still really liked Nathan, which is probably why I have overall positive feelings about this book despite a lot of confusion about it. I also think this book has some great secondaries, though so many of them we only see briefly before moving on.
    Lauren @ Love is not a triangle recently posted…Half Bad by Sally Green A review discussion with Jen @ YA Romantics

    • Kim

      Aw, I’m glad you liked it more, Lauren! I’ll swing by your review. :)

      1) Annalise is so boring and one note. She’s *another* example of Nathan being so damn “sure” that she couldn’t possibly ever betray him. I agree with you, though.

      2) Yeah ties in what I just said above. He really has no reason to either think his father really wanted to be there for him all along or to be devoted to him. No sense!

      3) Yep, there’s basically no mythology. It was all so fuzzy and not well explained at all. No thank you!

      4) YES. It really felt like a prequel. Everything you said. Spot on.

      5) Arran was really sweet. I appreciated him the most of any other single aspect of this much. Gabriel is definitely the most intriguing character and I did like him as well. I don’t understand why he likes Nathan, though. I am so curious as to your theory! I will stop by your review space to chat. :)

      6) Oh Jessica’s abuse made me so sad and so uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but wonder why the grandmother wasn’t doing anything about the fact that Jessica was *really* hurting him. Wth? Is that why it’s compared to Ness? I was also irritated by the comparisons from the publisher because this book is really *nothing* like Ness or Zusak.

      7) Yeah, he has sympathetic motivations, but I just found the delivery lacking. Oh well.

    • Kim

      Yes the library is definitely a safe bet! It is a little sad, though, when you see a book you’ve really been looking forward to get some pretty mixed reviews. Sorry sorry! :p I really hope you do end up enjoying it a lot more than I did.

  21. Jess @ Such A Novel Idea

    I am so, so glad I read this review, because I missed out on requesting the ARC and had it on my to-buy when I have money list. Your points though, do make me hesitant, so I’ll definitely be doing some more research.

    Also, we need black sheep reviews! Your points are valid and can actually influence me to buy it if it’s things I like. So, keep on doing your thing girl.

    Also, I’m getting kind of sick of hyped books that don’t pay off. Sigh.
    Jess @ Such A Novel Idea recently posted…After Dark with Loren (and Jess!) — A Review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    • Kim

      Haha thanks, Jess. I am so, so glad you found my review informative and helpful! I’d say checking it out of the library couldn’t hurt. It’s definitely the safe route. And you are so right. Negative reviews can help influence consumers in a positive way. If I see a negative review railing that a book has “too much romance” I am basically like “Sign me up for that!” :p

  22. Wendy Darling

    Wow, Kim, you have outdone yourself with this review. It is so articulate and well-reasoned, with a side dash of some zingy observations that feel pretty spot-on.

    As you know, I read a few chapters of this and wasn’t really feeling it, so I’m sorry that you experienced the same thing. So much of your review made me laugh, though–repetitive angst! sitting around his apartment! spending his time beating up his friend! So weird.

    I’m not a big fan of second person, present tense either. The ONLY time I have ever enjoyed it was in ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julia Berry. I didn’t know that was the POV before I started it, and I’m so glad, because the book ended up being incredibly good. But that takes a certain type of writer who is cognizant of emotional content and the trickiness of the limitations of that POV, and who can deftly adjust her writing to that.

    • Kim

      Oh my gosh stop it, Wendy! You’ve been making me blush and beam all week. Stop it (don’t really though). I am so honored you would say such nice words to me. Your compliments mean so much. :D

      I am so glad I made you laugh! Why is he beating up his friend?!? Why is the friend never like, “Hey, buddy, don’t beat me up again?” And he keeps on liking Nathan a lot for some reason. A lot a lot. NO SENSE.

      I have All the Truth That’s In Me on my Kindle and I am so curious about it. Especially eager to see now what I think of it especially after thoroughly disliking the little glimpse of 2nd person present I had in Half Bad. We’ll see!
      Kim recently posted…Half Bad: Review

      • Wendy Darling

        Oh Kim, everyday I’m so happy that you’re with us! So, so happy. :) Are you sure you don’t want to skip BEA and come hang out with us at ALA instead?

        I seriously read this review three times because I enjoyed it so much, though. Okay, the first time was so I could pull a brief quote to tweet and FB it, but the other two times were purely for pleasure! You did an amazing review, Kim. I feel far too lazy to write reviews with this level of detail for too many of the books I read these days.

        I reaally hope ATTTIM (wow, awkward) works for you. Let me know, hah! It’s a weirdo book, it definitely won’t work for everybody, though.

        Also, apologies for the lack of email today–I have no excuse at all, but I will try to remedy this tomorrow! It’s all good stuff, though. :)

        • Kim

          Your words are too kind. They fill me with beaming joy! :D :D :D :D

          Oh, Wendy. I want to go to ALA so very, very much. Sooooo bad. We’d all be there and it would be amazing. The Midnight Garden Takes ALA! It would be just wonderful. *sigh*

          I will let you know how ATTTIM (haha) goes once the mug decrees it be read.

          I am so sad without my email. :( Haha. NEvermind! I just got my email! :D

  23. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Oh good on you for continuing to read in the 2nd person present time, Kim! I have started a book written like that, and I felt like the narrator was addressing me – personally – directly, and I just couldn’t get into the story at all!

    Disjointed writing and slow pace is not something I’m a big fan of either. I have to wait a while before I decide on this one.
    Great review, Kim.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Blogtour Review: Defining Destiny – Deanna Chase

    • Kim

      It’s only the first 20 pages and I did skip ahead to make sure it wasn’t that way throughout. I probably would’ve DNF’ed it if the whole book was in second person present. It reaaaaaally slows down. So very little happens in this book. The entire thing feels like set up in a bad way. Bah. If you read it I hope you end up enjoying it much more than I did!

    • Kim

      Two stars to me means “just okay” so it’s really not all *that* awful. It’s really not that good either. I’m happy I can be informative at least!

    • Kim

      Being the black sheep is often very un-fun. But thanks to our black sheep mascot I have a little comfort haha. At least you’re not worry about this one-phew!

  24. Rashika

    I do have an eARC of this book to read but I’ve been putting it off for ‘later’. After reading your review, I am tempted to skip it. I do not enjoy angst and it seems like all this character is about is angst. A huge rage ball is not my thing. :/
    It’s a pity about the world building though. I was intrigued by the idea of white and black witches (okay so anything witch will grasp my attention) so it sucks that the world building ended up being sketchy.
    Rashika recently posted…Panic by Lauren Oliver

    • Kim

      Yeahhhhh. Perhaps this is recommended for people who enjoy angsty, ragey, teen boy characters. But that’s not my scene. I don’t want to read about the main character spazzing out and beating up his friend for no reason. Geez.

      The worldbuilding was soooo sketchy. So sketchy. I think this might be on purpose because it’s supposed to be this whole “gray” world where good and evil aren’t clear. But I was just left confused and disgruntled about it.

  25. Melissa @ i swim for oceans

    I’ve actually seen a slew of bad reviews for this one. It’s on my shelf, and I’ll admit that I’ve been really looking forward to it, but it sounds like an utter convoluted mess. I doubt I’ll be reading this one after all. Great honest review though!

    • Kim

      Yikes is right. This probably won’t be the one to break your witches streak. Unless you prefer your witch stories without much magic in which case this might be for you! Yeah, it’s struck me now saying this that for a book about witches there is hardly any magic. Huh. There’s another one for the con column. *sigh*
      Kim recently posted…Half Bad: Review

  26. Leanna

    I’m reading this one now and I’ve found it okay so far – not all that great, but okay. I was hoping that things would pick up soon, as I’m just about to reach the ‘present’ part. However, after reading your review, I’m not hopeful! I’ve seen a ton of positive reviews for this one, and it is SUPER hyped, so I’m hoping it’ll be a hit for me. We’ll see!
    Leanna recently posted…Read All About It: News, Deals and Cover Reveals from Lauren Oliver, Becca Fitzpatrick, Gretchen McNeil, Cat Clarke & More!

  27. Amanda @ Book Badger

    This book is turning into a marmite book slowly. I’ve seen so many amazing reviews and so many not-so amazing reviews I don’t know how to feel. I have this book, and I’m going to be reading in sometime in the next week, but I’m quite nervous now and don’t know how to feel about starting it. But still, great review Kim, as always! :D
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Who Wore It Better #4 – Unravel Me

    • Kim

      Ha, that’s actually pretty spot on. I was excited enough in the beginning and then it just slowed down soooooo much. A marmite book. :) It’s probably best to give it a few days away from reading the reviews before starting. You’ll probably know fairly early on whether you like it or not. I still hope you like it better than I did!

      • Amanda @ Book Badger

        I’m glad you like the sound of that :)
        I always refer to books that are usually extremely loved or extremely hated marmite books.
        It kind of makes it a little more fun and people identify with it more :D
        Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Review – Wonder

  28. Mary @ BookSwarm

    THANK YOU!! YES!! I feel the exact same way–about EVERYTHING. I did make it all the way through this story but I just felt so disconnected and truly uncomfortable about the Black/White designations. It was like being bashed over the head with a poorly constructed racial allegory, like you said.

    And I think you need to name the black sheep Bob. Bob the Black Sheep.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Speed Date with Simon: MURDER OF CROWS by Anne Bishop

    • Kim

      It’s always a relief when you find someone else who wasn’t thrilled with a book that everyone else seems to love.
      And I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortable. So poorly constructed and so over the top in its obviousness. Come on. Ugh. Well, at least some people enjoyed it?

      Hee, that’s one vote for Bob! :)

    • Kim

      Haha. Well, you know, it really isn’t *that* bad, it’s just not that good. There’s so little that actually happens for a book that’s so long. I think this would have been better served as a prequel novella. Also, this book has been so hyped by its publisher in a way that I think does it no favors.