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Where The Half-Wild Things Are

Sally Green's second book is all grown up. Sex, potions, and rock and roll—Half Wild is NOT the book the Obamas read to children last year at Easter.

Where The Half-Wild Things Are

BOOK REPORT for Half Wild (Half Bad #2) by Sally Green

Cover Story: Spoiler Much?
BFF Charm: Where My Witch At?
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Sensual
Bonus Factors: Potty Mouth, Good and Evil
Relationship Status: Come What May

SPOILER ALERT: This is the second book in the Half Bad trilogy, so if you haven't read Half Bad, stop and think about the kind of person you want to be, and then go read it! Because it’s good. And also because I’ll need to spoil a couple things. Thank you for making good choices.

*The Obamas...

Cover Story: Spoiler Much?

Book #2 starts with a big ol' mystery: What animal did Nathan become last night?! Except there’s that cover there, and I was admiring it just seconds before reading the first chapter… I suppose half the fun is in having the main character not know things, whether you know them or not. Anyway, do NOT be deterred by the suggestion of werewolves that this cover gives. It isn’t what you think.

The Deal:

Now that Nathan has received his three gifts, he needs to develop his magical Gift, save Annalise from her death-sleep, and find Gabriel, who at last count was risking his life to lead the Hunters away from Nathan. And those Hunters somehow found Mercury’s hideout, so Nathan needs to lay low while working on his epic to-do list. Is there anywhere safe? Is there anyone trustworthy (and alive)? Can Nathan even trust himself? As he struggles to control and understand his own nature, a war ramps up between Black and White Witches. Oooh, a metaphor!

BFF Charm: Where My Witch At?

Still a BIG fan of Nathan, and he can totally have my BFF charm. I think he’d even wear it, too, because he doesn’t care what people think. I can even hear him commenting on it, with only a touch of bitterness: “Do you think it matches my old acid burn scars and branding tattoos? I think it goes quite nicely.”

Our boy has grown up a lot since we first met him. I was giving him major props for being so optimistic and strong in the face of pretty extreme prejudice and abuse. He’s still incredibly strong, and he tries his best to be optimistic, but that bitterness I was willing to forgive him—it’s blossoming now, boy howdy! I still don’t blame him, at all. But he is a very different, very angry person in this book. Very rocknrolla. And he has a theory about why:

I’m angrier now than I was when I was a prisoner because now I can look back and see the injustice and brutality and I can do nothing about it.

So insightful, Nathan! (He is actually a v. poor verbal communicator, but we get all the 411, on account of being the readers of his book and all.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

“It’s Harry Potter with a hard-on,” said a review in Financial Times of Sally Green’s series. AND MY WORK HERE IS DONE.

Talky Talk: Sensual

… Ok, fine, I have more to say about the swoon in this book! I just need to talk about it in a way that doesn’t spoil even a morsel of this delicious story for those who haven’t yet read it. (What are you waiting for, btw? Yeah, I’m talking to you! You there, in the pink dress! Or would you call that ... fuchsia?)

That FT reviewer really did sum it up, though. Green has created a character who has such a deep connection to the physical word, and to his own feelings. The way Nathan figures out what drives him, the way he experiences nature, and especially the way he interacts with those he loves—every scene seems imbued with sensuality. It’s a very seductive story.

Bonus Factor: Potty Mouth

As you might expect from someone so passionate, Nathan expresses himself not so much in articulate, measured discourse, but in cursing like a g-d sailor. The way that Green writes it is simple and effective. Here’s a great example:

“You’re sort of famous, kid. You know: son of Marcus; half White and half Black … and to be frank, you’ve got freaky eyes.”
I swear at him about the son-of-Marcus thing and swear at him about being a Half Code and then swear at him about my eyes.

There are a few actual swear words, but most of it is Nathan telling us how he got mad at someone and “told him where to go,” or called someone an idiot and “enhanced it with some swearing.” It just really worked well, and never failed to make me smile.

One last note: For those who don’t savor profanity like a cup of warm cocoa, this book is G-rated in that sense (but in no other!). I personally adore swearing and find it appropriate in most situations. Like I wish it was acceptable for toddlers to do, because it is so, so funny!

Bonus Factor: Good and Evil

While Half Bad examined the idea that nothing is good or evil in and of itself, Half Wild plays with the notion that good and evil are, in a sense, completely arbitrary ideas. We see this in the war that is raging between Soul O’Brien and the Alliance for Free Witches. We see it in Nathan’s animal side, and in the forest where that part of him comes alive. Are predators, who stalk and kill to survive, evil? And if they’re not bad, does that mean they’re good? Or is nature something else entirely—not right, not wrong, but … wild?

Casting Call:

I only cast Nathan, Annalise and Gabriel last time, so...

Oscar Isaac as Marcus

Gwendoline Christie as Celia

Rooney Mara as Van

Gregor Fisher as Nesbitt.

I could picture him in this role so, so easily, and guess what? Apparently, he’s most well known for the title role in Rab C. Nesbitt, a Scottish comedy I'd never heard of. What are the chances?!

Relationship Status: Come What May

Book, I was all heart eyes and hope in your first installment, but now I’m growing wise. I can see dark things on the horizon for us, and I’m scared, but I’m all in.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought this book instead of having a huge lunch at Chipotle this one day, and I have no regrets! I received neither money nor a magical heirloom knife in exchange for this review. Half Wild is available now.

Lacey Nadeau's photo About the Author: It's taken a decade, but Lacey has finally decided she misses the beaches of Southern California where she grew up. (It took only about a minute for her to miss the Mexican food.) However, she's pretty committed to the fun and sun of Denver, CO, where she plays with spreadsheets by day, and drinks boozy slushies with her husband and puppy by night. The puppy just pretends.