Half Bad, Sally Green

Half Bad: cover of first novel by Sally Green, predicted to be next Harry Potter or Twilight Saga

Warning: This one DOES contain spoilers!

Synopsis:

Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?  

Review:

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the idea. Hated everything else. It felt to me like it was too clear cut- you had to hate this character, you were meant to like that one. I like books where you can make your own mind up, where you end up loving the badie because they still had goodness. In this one, Jasmine was just…evil. Arron was just lovely. You had no other way of seeing them so you had no other way of feeling.

I loved the idea of the black and white witches. Because the white’s, they are meant to be good and pure, but are they? As you go through the book, you realise that they may not be as lovely as first thought. I mean, look at the legislations put against our main, Nathan.  First, he’s got to be tested every year to see what he is- yeah, fine- but then it gets worse. No Giving Ceremony without Permission. Every person he talks to must be reported, no matter how little interaction they have. Then his movements are stopped. Everywhere he goes must be reported. Is that really for the safely of the Whites, or another way of isolating someone that’s different.
Another part of this that was good was the ‘nature vs nurture’ aspect of Nathans growing up. What makes him evil- is it the black witches in his family, or is it the way the whites treat him before they even know what he is like?

The plot was a bit of a problem.  Like, here we have a boy whose hated for what he is and there’s been a prophesy where only he will kill his father with a particular weapon so everyone wants him! Hurray! But not for the right reasons…
So we have 380 pages where…he’s running from everyone and refusing to kill people and being beaten up…but not much else. Seriously. There were pages and pages of people being rude to him, or being locked up for ages, but no actual story. I don’t want to read an entire chapter about the mud under his feet as he is ordered to run.
Not only that, but where is the world building? So these witches, right? Where did they come from? Who first realised they needed three gifts? Like, did they all die before this happened? What happened to get the split between the two types of witches? And why are the black ones hated so much (like, the whites seem to kill just as many people…)
And that’s just the background part of the world building…

Although I didn’t agree with the way characters were perceived, I have to say they were all solid in who they were.  I loved that you could see them change their views as we move though the book- take Celia. At first, its clear she doesn’t want to like Nathan. There is a history between the families so (once again) she judges him for his father. However, the more time they spend together, the more she realises that he is not like his father, and she grows to like him. It’s not easy to tell, not until she fights the fact the Council want to take him away.

Let’s talk about the love interest. Annalise. (collective groan from everyone who already knows my view on this). Why? Why is Nathan so obsessed with her- and yes, I am using the word obsessed, since what, they met at eleven, talked like, twice and then they didn’t see each other until the kiss. That’s pretty much it. And then for the rest of the book (where you see her for a single second) he worries about her and thinks about her. Like, come on. You have both grown up, this obsession you have with her is a childish dream. It really really annoyed me, because it felt like Green had gone ‘AHA I am writing a book for teenagers, I must add a love interest!’
NO!
I’m sorry, but romance with characters should not just be on paper. You should see the chemistry as it unfolds and wish that they do get together. With Annalise and Nathan, I just wanted to slam the book shut and scream.
Plus side…I see a bit more from Gabriel, who is one of the few characters in this book I actually really like.

I could go on but I will stop, for my sanity and yours, and I will leave you with this:

The title of the book sums up my thoughts perfectly. It’s a bit more than Half Bad.

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Throne of Glass Series, Sarah J Maas

throne of glass


Warning: Mild fangirling ahead. And maybe spoilers. 

Synopsis:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

Review:
I’m going to start with this: Sarah J Maas is one of my favourite authors of all time. And yes, I have a lot of favourites, but she is different. Her books are the kind of books  that I can sit and reread of months without getting bored.

Why? Not just because they are fantasy (and come on, everyone knows I have a huge weakness for anything fantasy) but because of the characters, and the magic and the plot and EVERYTHING. This is the kind of series you will devour, enjoying every second (even when your heart is being ripped out your chest) and then curse Maas for not writing quicker.

So lets talk characters.
Celaena. Where to start with her? She’s the most famous assassin in years, everyone knows her name. Yet she got caught. That’s where the story starts, with her as a slave for the kingdom. She’s given a choice- enter a competition to become the kings assassin and win her freedom. So.she does. What I love is that Celaena, although she has been captured and is in a place she hates, she has not been broken. She has a strong spirit and a strong personality and you cannot help but love her. (also, want to be her. I mean, she makes assassins look cool)
Then the royal family. Dorian, the Crown Prince, who ends up befriending our lovely assassin, despite knowing who she is. The King, who is just pure evil and you want to kill just to make everyone safe and happy.
And Chaol. I love Chaol. I have no other words to explain it, other than I want to reach into the book and steal him (although, I want to do this with all the characters, really) He’s so loyal and protective, although sometimes he makes the wrong choices.
That’s just the main characters from the first book. By the third book (which is my favourite one in the series so far) you have Rowan (I want to steal him), Maeve (I want to slap) and so many other wonderful characters you wished were real.
And then there’s the plot, with so many twists and turns and ‘gasp’ moments that make you keep reading. What I love is that, in the first book, the world is small. You follow Celaena as she lives in the castle, competing for her freedom, but as the series moves on, you see more and more of the world inside the book, and you realise how big it actually is.

What’s great about this series is you can clearly see Sarah improve as it goes on. Most series I read, I love the first book, tolerate the second and want to throw the third at a brick wall. But this one, the first book is amazing, the second book is even better, and the third one will leave you in a puddle of tears and wonder and waiting and waiting for the next book (September. QUEEN OF SHADOWS).
Like, you know when you read an amazing book and it leaves you feeling full of energy because it was so wonderful and you won’t be able to talk about it and breathe at the same time and you want to thrust it into the hands of any passing stranger screaming ‘READ THE BOOK?’


Well, this series is that kind of book. It’s the stay up all night and read series, the ignore the world for days on end series. So really. Its amazing.

I could go on and on about this series for hours, so I will stop here with just these words:
If you haven’t read any Sarah J Maas books yet, go and read them. Now.

Only Ever Yours, Louise O’Neill

only ever yours

Synopsis:

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . . 

Review:

I cannot say that I enjoyed this book. Not because it was bad- quite opposite, really, but because this is not the kind of book you can ‘enjoy.’

Honestly? It was terrifying to read.

The blurb on the back of the book does not even start to go into what the book is about. Yes, its about friendship, but it’s also about life and people and the way both men and woman are different to each other- and how they are treated so differently.

So it’s set in the future, where woman are ‘eves’ genetically made to be beautiful. All they ar made for is men- some will be chosen to marry, others will end up being used ‘for the enjoyment of men’. Hell, they have numbers instead of actual names, and the names they do use don’t even have capital letters.

It doesn’t seem that much, but taking that away form each other, and you take away their identity.

These girls are raised from birth being told they can always make improvements. They can always be thinner, always be more beautiful.

They are never perfect.

Okay. Lets pull away from the book for a second and look at the world we live in now.

Think of everything you see in magazines, on TV. Make up adds everywhere (I have an odd relationship with make up. I like that its pretty and there are cool colours and the amazing stuff some girls can do with it but I do not understand it at all) posters of thin, blonde girls. Even if it is not meant, woman are seen as ‘objects’ rather than people.

This world that we live in now? Look 100 years in the future and actually, this book is what we might end up with.

For gods sake, the word ‘Feminist’ is a swear word in this!

So no, I didn’t enjoy this book. But from the second I started reading it to the moment I put it down two days later, it was all I could think about. I haven’t read any other book at the same time- and I cant remember the last time that happened.

This is a chilling book.

And I honestly don’t care what you normally read, you should all pick up this book. I don’t care if you are male, female, Young Adult reader or not, you should start reading this book. Because it will scare you and make you think and maybe, just maybe, it will start to help change this world so we do not become like that one.