Half Bad by Sally Green
You know what's annoying? When you see Benjaminoftomes go on about this really cool book called Half Bad, then find out that it's about witches, then think it's not for you, then read it and find it's absolutely for you? Rather than making you apologise for being annoying initially, thank you, Ben for pointing me in the direction of this book!
Nathan is born a half code. One of his parents is a white witch, the other is a black witch. Nathan is in the middle, and is therefore not liked that much by the Council. His grandmother looks after him because of rather exceptional circumstances, but his life is ridden between coping with family, coping with the Council, coping with loss, and coping with being a Half Code.
This book is actually pretty incredible. Why on earth I put this book off for so long is completely beyond me. I wish I could offer a much more detailed synopsis of this book, but that's the best I can really do.
This book is not fantasy. Sure, all characters are witches, and all characters receive 'gifts' from family members, but it's far from fantasy. On the contrary, I feel the book deals with lots of varied issues, racism being, I think, at the core of this book. It may not be there at all, or it may be there and Sally didn't intend for it to be there, but I have a very good reason to believe that it was in fact intended in every way.
The story is told in a way that defies any other story in the fantasy genre, if you can even define it as a fantasy novel. It's not full of magic, it's not full of unrealistic fantasies, but at the same time it takes witches and applies them in more of a realistic situation, something I haven't seen done since I last read The Witches by Roald Dahl!
Nathan is a really great character too, a classic example of defiance of the status quo. I loved the defiant attitude that he had, the way that he didn't agree with the system or the Council and took a stand against it. I thought that added something amazing to the book, and I wasn't at all disappointed reading this.
Negatives? Who designed the cover? Seriously: who decided to ditch the blurb on the back? It gave it a nice touch, but I like to read a blurb before diving straight into a book of any sort, so you lost points with whoever did that. Think about it though: I bought this book online, so I could read a synopsis, but if I was in a bookshop, I couldn't do that, and chances are I'd put it back on the shelf. So please don't ever omit blurbs!
I loved Half Bad, and Half Wild is now on my To Buy list. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone that is a YA fan in general, and anyone going to YALC, because that persuaded me to get a copy of the book: Sally Green is on the authors list for YALC 2015 which I am madly excited about. And she's writing the third book in the trilogy, which I'm also massively excited for as well.
Keep writing Sally! Please?