Sally Green’s HALF WILD is every bit as macabre, unsettling, and eerily delicious as her debut, HALF BAD.
What I’m reading at the moment, while I’m down in the city visiting friends and therefore sneaking bits and pieces of reading late at night or while I’m on the train: Sally Green’s Half Wild, the sequel to Half Bad. Since Half Lost just came out, I thought I had better get on it so I’d be all caught up in time to, you know, read Half Lost before I’m totally spoiled. My budget for reading time has been irritatingly reduced as of late, much to my dismay, to the point that I almost welcome sitting around in waiting rooms because it feels like the only time I can ever actually pick books up.
So, Half Wild. I know that a lot of people weren’t big fans of Half Bad, but I obviously liked it enough to pick up the next book in the series. It’s dark. Complicated. Macabre. A messy, unpleasant, sticky version of a magical world that reflects the world we live in. I’ve long maintained that YA is actually an excellent barometer of social problems and the state of society in general, and I’m sticking to that assessment — these books come from an era of uncertainty in which grownups swear that everything is cool and we’ve got this handled but evidence says otherwise, rather pointedly.
Wild is an interesting word. We imagine wild to be untamed and out of control but, of course, nature isn’t like that; nature is controlled, ordered, extremely disciplined by all its elements.
Nathan is not necessarily a nice guy, and in Half Wild, he’s discovering his ugliest parts. I like that this series really pushes at boundaries of good, evil, framing, and how the reader is supposed to feel. Nothing is simple in a world where ‘white’ and ‘black’ are used as arbitrary words to define people who practice and use magic; ‘black’ magic is only as evil as you make it out to be, and ‘white’ magic is only as good as you make it out to be. Nathan is caught in a dualistic world where everyone wants to use him and he kind of just wants to crawl in a hole and do his own thing. I don’t blame him, man.
So I’m liking Half Wild so far — it has many of the traits that I really enjoying in Half Bad, with sparse, but descriptive, language, and thoughtful characters, and challenging questions. I’m particularly enjoying the dynamic between Nathan and Gabriel, and the tensions that arise as the two come to the understanding that they want different things from their bond, and that someone is going to have to reconcile to an outcome he’s not happy with.
If you haven’t picked up Half Bad and you like sort of creepy, unsettling YA (think Kristin Cashore, Brenna Yovanoff, and Dia Reeves), I think you might enjoy this series, and I’ll have more on Half Wild when I’m done!