I bought Half Bad in London early this year, before there was any considerable hype to speak of over here. So if I’d had read it right then, I could’ve beaten everyone to the punch and have been all hipster about it. It took me until now to finally crack the spine though, so I guess I’m lagging behind in the hype-department once more.
Half Bad is not an easy one to review. I guess you could say it wasn’t “half bad” (puns! <3) but in my opinion it wasn’t very good either – certainly not worth all the fuss.
The first 50 pages were extremely off-putting to me. I wasn’t sure if the entire book was going to be written in that same unbearably clipped, deranged style so I didn’t really want to read on. I hated – absolutely hated – the chapters that were written in second person perspective and hope I never ever come across it in any book ever again. The whole first 50 pages seemed to me a desperate attempt at being original.
I asked the Goodreads-community for advice: continue reading or give up? They unanimously urged me to read on, and I’m glad I did. Because after those first 50 pages, the writer sort of gave up on being strange and off-putting and “original”, which makes the whole thing even stranger – I mean, what was the point? I … really don’t get it. This entire style experiment was lost on me.
Anyways, in general, I did not like the style in which the rest of the book is written any better. If you’d ask Mike Skinner of The Streets to write a book, it would probably be something like this. I actually do like The Streets though! But using ‘cos’ in an actual book instead of ‘’cause’ is just plain wrong to me …
The story … I don’t know, it’s quite boring isn’t it? There’s a lot of build-up, a lot of feeling sorry for Nathan, a lot of ‘eww’-moments. A very boyish book as well. I didn’t appeal to me in any way.
Whilst reading, I had this idea that Half Bad was actually just a Harry Potter re-write:
What if Harry Potter were the son of Sirius Black, raised by witches who looked upon him as if he’d be just as ‘evil’ as his serial-killer father. However, in this world, the good witches aren’t very good and the magic isn’t always all that magical. Poor Harry/Nathan grows up in a cage instead of a cupboard under the stairs. Even worse! That poor boy. And the not-so-good good witches want to use him as bait to catch Sirius Black! Whom he has never met! Oh the tragedy. The end.
I did however like the last 100 pages, after Gabriel (like!) and Rose (like!) showed up and stuff started moving along. Even so I am not very inclined to read the next book. I simply don’t care for Nathan very much, the setting depressed me and the writing style is not one I’m partial to.
Overall, this was just a very ‘meh’ book to me, with a terrible beginning that is not referential to the rest of the book. It gets better as you read along, sure, but this one’s just going to be labeled: “Not for me, thanks”.
Thanks to the last 100 pages, I’m rating it ***, otherwise it would’ve probably been **.