Friday, 12 February 2016

Half Wild by Sally Green (Dystopia 3)

**This book was included on 
SBRs Top 10 Best Reads of 2015**

Publication Date: 24 March 2014
Published By: Peguiun
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Dystopia (YA)

My Synopsis

This is the second book to the Half Bad trilogy.  If you haven't already done so, you can also read my review of the first book, Half Bad

Half Bad Spoiler Alert!  We know from book 1 that Nathan found Mercury and along with his new found friend, Gabriel, and Mercury's apprentice, Rose, is forced to steal the 'Fairborn' (a powerful dagger) from the hunters guarding it.  In the attempt, Rose is killed, Nathan is badly injured and Gabriel has to distract the hunters, drawing them away from Nathan in order to save his life. 

The second instalment begins with Nathan in woodlands, having recently woken. The sound of static noise is loud and constant.  He feels disorientated and so it takes him some time to understand where the noise is coming from, where he is and what is going on around him.  It takes him some ime to become himself and only by keeping himself calm and his thoughts positive.  We discover that, now that he is a witch, his 'gift' has manifested and keeping calm and positive is his way of learing to control it.

Nathan is doubful that his best friend Gabriel managed to escape the hunters.  It is more likely that he died trying to save him, but he goes to the place where they agreed to meet should they both survive and waits.  Just when he is about to give up, he discovers that someone else has found the meeting place.  But is it friend or foe?

My Review

In the first chapter of this book Nathan has experienced his magical gift for the first time and the readers are shown just how challenging it is for him to get a handle of it.

Sally Green is skilled at evoking the power of the emotions the characters experience in this book.   This made the relationships intriguing, particularly the extreme love and hate that exists between different family members. Also, after so much cruelty it is hard not to tear up when Nathan begins to experience randam acts of kindness (such as the help he gets from Nikita/Ellen).

The romantic love is (almost) completely absent of fluff.  Okay, yes, there is the 'obligatory' YA love triangle, but at least it's not a 'typical' one.

All the way along there is a hint that someone close to him may not be what they seem and that Nathan will be betrayed and I found myself speculating the outcome in that regard.  Turns out I was wrong (the plot unfolds in an unpredictable way).

I would say that this story is not as dark as the previous one.  Half Bad reads like proper dystopia (i.e, it is difficult not to feel a sense of anxiety for the protagonist and anticipate dread all the way through), whereas Half Wild has been softend to read more like most of the popular YA dystopian novels out there that are - quite frankly - dystopia light (and in some cases dystopia absent).  Having said that, this did not take away my enjoyment.

I should confess that I did not read this but instead listened to the audio version. This is important to declare for 2 reasons. (1) Reading the reviews of others I noticed that some readers expressed irritation because of the format of the first part of the book. (The author has attempted to emphasise the importance of static noise for Nathan, which is difficult to achieve in text form.) The audio version provides the real thing instead. (2) For me, part of the enjoyment was down to the narration by Carl Prekopp, who has done an exceptional job, adding value to this series. Clich here to check out a sample.

For me, the Half Bad series is among the very best that is on offer in YA fantasy/dystopian fiction


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