Published: March 24th 2015 by Penguin
Format: ARC, 400 pages
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Nathan Byrn is on the run.
White witches hunt him. Black witches hate him.
His Gift from his murderous father is a wild new power he can't control.
He must find the girl he loves. Who may have betrayed him.
In a war between Black and White witches, with his loyalties plot between both, the greater danger Nathan faces might be himself ...
Half Wild is the follow-up to Half Bad. This series follows Nathan Byrn, a half-White and half-Black witch in a world where the two hate each other and don’t usually mix. The fact that Nathan’s father is the most notorious and dangerous Black witch in existence doesn’t help the matter.
I think the first thing I have to tell you about Half Wild is that if you didn’t like Half Bad, you probably won’t enjoy its sequel. It’s more of the same – unusual story-telling and weird characters, blood and guts and gore, and a simplistic world-building schema that doesn’t get challenged as often as I’d hoped. If you didn’t like Nathan, didn’t enjoy the story Green was sharing or how she chose to share it, there would be very little to endear you to Half Wild.
Having really liked Half Bad, I was bouncing with excitement at getting to read the sequel. I don’t feel it’s let me down at all. I don’t particularly like Nathan as a person but he’s a well realised and nuanced character, a true embodiment of the trials and tribulation he’s faced in his young life. Nathan is capable of love and when he loves, he loves fiercely. His fond memories of his brother Arran and his childhood love for Annalise are heartbreaking, and his friendship with Gabriel is one of the best aspects of the series. His bitterness at his father’s abandonment and confusion because he still loves and wants to be with Marcus is also endearing. Nathan grows up quite a bit in this book. I liked that he became assertive instead of trying to be meek and unthreatening – a reaction that makes sense given that he was put inside a cage! – and am looking forward to see him become a leader for the rebels.
I again had a small issue with the world-building, namely that again it was the White witches who seemed to be all weak and not great at fighting, and the Black witches who took to killing and bloodshed easily. In a series that seems to be showing us that the labels of White and Black are not synonymous with Good and Evil, it seems an oversight not include a White witch who enjoyed the bloodshed or a Black witch who shrank from the battlefield. Nathan, who doesn’t belong in either world but represents both, is shown to be increasingly like his father and described as being more Black than White. These developments would have been fine if they weren’t associated with his blood-thirsty Gift and mood-swings by the other characters (and sometimes himself). What I’m trying to say is, I don’t think the series is successfully showing us that the world isn’t black and white (pun intended).
As with Half Bad, which was told in second person for a large section, I was impressed with the techniques that Green employed to tell this story. Half Wild begins and ends with chapters told in second-person and includes some clever techniques that allow readers to immerse themselves into the story. My favourite device is the way Green shows us that the buzzing from a mobile phone (which Nathan can detect) getting louder by increasing the font-size dramatically. It’s a small thing, but I really liked it.
Nathan’s preoccupation with finding and rescuing Annalise is admirable but I was frustrated with his blind trust in her, especially in the light of all the betrayals he’s suffered. I find it very hard to like Annalise and even though I try to sympathise with her since her life has been affected by things out of her control, I just want her to go away most of the time. All that said, I am not disappointed with the story-line of this book. It rose above the teens-in-love-suffer-a-separation theme to show us an unlikely alliance between Black, White, and Half Blood witches, which I see a lot of potential in.
I’ve enjoyed Half Wild and am glad that I picked up Half Bad last year at PTALive Sydney. I like the characters and their struggles, and am looking forward to seeing where Nathan’s adventures take him in the next instalment.