The Half Bad series is seriously underrated, but it’s one of my favorites. This trilogy is so unique and original that I almost don’t want to try and explain it; I’m afraid to spoil the magic of the books that way. Sally Green tells an amazing story. The books are gripping, fast-paced and tragically marvelous. I just finished reading the last book in the trilogy and I am so gonna miss Nathan! And Gabriel and…
This trilogy is absolutely unique and original, both in the way it's written and in the darkness of the story itself. The writing is really different, it flips back and forth from second to first person. The timeline is also not quite linear, instead it flips back in time every now and then to explain the current. I loved it, as it's makes the book stand out and also makes you feel really close to the characters. I’m glad I started reading the series when all three books were published; I literally could not put the books down until I’d finished all of them.
Also, the series is kind of brutal, to say the least. It’s set in modern-day Europe, where witches secretly lives alongside humans (fains). The witches are either white (good) or black (bad), aside from 17-year-old Nathan who is half of both. His absent father is the most notorious black witch alive and his mother is dead. It’s as gloomy as it sounds. When we first meet Nathan he is trapped in a cage and abused. Actually, a lot of the book looks back at how Nathan has been mistreated, even tortured, from a very young age because of who his father is, and how eventually he is trapped by the Council of White Witches and put in a cage for cruel tests. Nathan desperately has to escape before his seventeenth birthday, to receive three gifts from his father and his magical ability and become a full-fledged witch. Otherwise, he will die.
Nathan is such a wonderful character. He goes through some absolutely terrible things, but he always has hope and never gives up. Nathan receives help from a series of characters, notably the black witch Gabriel who has lost his powers due to an accident.
In the second installment, Half Wild, Nathan has escaped and managed to gets his gifts. Now he must decide whether to join the rebelling alliance of free witches and stop the white witch counsel from suppressing and experimenting on black witches, or live a lonely, but free, life. Nathan’s story then comes to close in Half Lost, where the battle is continued and Nathan is being hunted by both sides. I’m not gonna tell too much about the ending, more than that Sally Green definitely knows how to write an epic finale that will shock you.
Of all three books, the second one, Half Wild is my favorite. This is where the love story between Nathan and Gabriel finally takes off for real. It’s such a sweet, wonderful, love story in the midst of all the terrible things going on. It’s also something of a surprise, as inititially Nathan's love life seems to be heading in another (Annalise) direction.
Some of the best things with the Half Bad trilogy is the surprising love story between Nathan and Gabe, and that it plays with ’grey areas’. White witches aren’t just good and black witches aren’t just bad. Strangely enough, even though Half Bad is about witches, there’s not much magic in it, which is actually a good thing. The story is magical enough in itself.
Find out more about the Half Bad world and the author here: Sally Green
It was the title of this book that made me read it and the rest of the books in this trilogy (Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue) by Veronica Rossi… The ‘never sky’ sounded so beautiful and intriguing, and luckily, the books turned out to live up to the expectations. This series is not overly dystopian, more like YA fantasy/sci fi in a really good way. It’s a trilogy that just pulls you in. It’s a quick, fast-paced read, with nuanced characters and a complex, fascinating futuristic world.
This story is a kind of sci-fi Romeo and Juliet-tale with sheltered Aria meeting savage Perry and being forced to form an uneasy partnership to survive as outcasts. Aria has lived a protected, virtual, life in the enclosed city of Reverie; through the make-believe worlds she accesses through her ‘Smarteye’; the eyepatch that lets her tap into her virtual reality. Peregrine (Perry) is a savage from the outside world, where reality in the wasteland is harsh and dangerous. When Aria is expelled from the security of her dome, she has no-one but her wits and Perry to fall back on.
The narrative is told from dual perspectives, but from a third person perspective. Quite unique, but I liked it. It really helped build the characters of Aria and Perry. Truth be told, it’s actually Perry that is the most interesting character, who drives the story. He’s got all the manly hero attributes - tough, protective, and strong – yet Veronica Rossi managed to make him into one of the nicest guys ever in literature. Also, in the beginning he’s not that into Aria at all, but finds her fragile and annoying, with her artificial breeding and her aroma of rot. She in turn thinks he’s disgusting. It takes a lot of adjustment for them to begin to even see each other as people, rather than a means to an end.
Together they set out through the three books to find redemption, their lost loved ones and to unite the two people of Dwellers and Outsiders. The books are adventurous and thrilling, with interesting sci-fi tech and virtual reality aspects, and with the slow-romance between Aria and Perry as the draw. Basically, I think that the Under the Never Sky trilogy is a perfect mix of adventure and romance, sci-fi and dystopia, entertainment and heartbreak.
Find out more about the books and the author here: Veronica Rossi
Every Friday from now on, I will share my tips for a good weekend read. Sometimes a new book release, sometimes an oldie but goodie. Starting off with the wonderful Rebel of the Sands-series by Alwyn Hamilton.
The Rebel-series is to be a YA trilogy, but so far only the first and the second instalments have been released. If you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, Rebel of the Sands, you’re up for a real treat!
When I bought The Rebel of the Sands because of the beautiful cover and intriguing blurb, I had not heard about this series before and was so pleasantly surprised by it. This story just drew me in and I couldn’t put it down until I’d reached the end. It’s really a YA master piece – it’s fun, fast paced and with lovable characters.
I adore the main character Amani and what a fierce tomboy she was. Known as the ‘Blue-Eyed Bandit’, Amani has always been “more gunpowder than girl”. Her whole life, she’s been trying to leave Dustwalk, the unforgiving dead-end dessert town she’s grown up in, without success. Until she meets a stranger, Jin, in a sharpshooting competition. Taking her chance, she follows him on a dangerous journey through the deserts.
What’s special in this series is the mythology that Alwyn Hamilton weaves into the tale. The story is spiced with fairytale animals, like the ‘Buraqi’, a sand horse that can be turned into a real steed by a girl, ‘Nightmares’ that remains in the sands, coming out only at night to inject humans with venom that infects the mind and body, ‘Skinwalkers’ that shift their form from one victim to another, ‘Djinns’; men made of out of smokeless fir and others.
During the journey, Amani’s and Jin’s banter grows into love, but after rescuing a wounded Jin to a safe haven he’s pointed out, Amani finds out that Jin is not just an ordinary boy, but the brother of the rebelling Prince fighting to overthrow the Sultan. When Amani gets over the betrayal, she soon also finds out that she is a ‘Demdjii’ with supernatural powers and gets pulled into the uprising.
There is also a slow-paced love story that leaves you desperate to know that there will be a HEA after all strains.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Alwyn Hamilton