Children's bookclub: Half Bad by Sally Green - Apply for a free copy.

(40 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Mar-14 15:02:48

We're delighted to announce Sally Green's debut YA novel Half Bad as one of our bookclub choice books for March. Sally was 48 years old when she penned her first novel which has gone on to be sold in 45 countries and film rights have already been snapped up.

Half Bad is the first in a trilogy which tells the story of a young male witch, Nathan, who is captured beaten and kept in a cage up until the age of fourteen because he doesn't fit into a society of black or white witches. Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday in order to fulfil his potential as a witch, or else he will die but he finds himself facing some great challenges, both emotional and political on his quest to discover who he really is.

Apply for a free copy and review or discuss the book on this thread. As a debut author, Sally has shared her Top tips for budding novelists.

emmaMBC Mon 03-Mar-14 17:30:09

I've just finished this novel - and thoroughly enjoyed it.

There's been lots of hype surrounding it, and fortunately it certainly lives up to this.

Gardner's voice is unique and refreshing.

jojack17 Tue 04-Mar-14 17:59:49

I've applied...is it awful that I've applied to the children's book club for a book which I want for myself?! I thoroughly enjoy a bit of YA fiction and this sounds right up my street! May pass it on to my son when I'm done of course!

emmaMBC Wed 05-Mar-14 18:19:23

Definitely not awful!! There are some absolutely brilliant YA authors out there at the moment - don't miss out!

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 06-Mar-14 00:54:22

Would those of you who have read it say its more aimed at teens. Is it too old for a year 7 girl?

fruitpastille Thu 06-Mar-14 03:48:08

I saw the author on tv yesterday and she sid 13+

I've applied - I have two boys 13 and a half and 12 and a half who will love this I think.

They have enjoyed the Darren Shan books, Skulduggery pleasant, Noughts and Crosses, Hunger Games, Tunnels series and many many more so this sounds like it will be right up their street.

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 10-Mar-14 10:38:41

This giveaway is now closed. We will notify those who have been selected to receive a free copy via email. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

diabolo Mon 10-Mar-14 14:34:53

I've just finished this, great book, really engaging character in Nathan, am looking forward to the next in the series.

emmaMBC Tue 11-Mar-14 11:07:57

Definitely too young for a 7 year old in my opinion.

The witch themes are complex, there are several quite detailed fighting scenes - it is a fabulous book for teenagers, and cough adults, I loved it!

This is my review ...
www.mybookcorner.com.au/listings/1051-half-bad

Have the emails gone out yet? I haven't heard anything so was thinking of buying the book anyway, but don't want to do that and then be told that we have been lucky to get one free smile

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 11-Mar-14 13:04:45

She's Year 7 aged 12, not 7 years old.

emmaMBC Tue 11-Mar-14 20:15:21

Oh! I was thinking she must be just wonderfully advanced with her reading skills for you to be considering a YA novel ;-)

Borderline I reckon then, it's a judgement call from you re what you know about her. If she's not ready for it yet, I'm sure she soon will be!

Opening scenes are of Nathan, the protagonist, coping with being locked in a cage. There are some scenes of violence, physical fighting - punching etc.

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 11-Mar-14 20:23:34

Yes I thought borderline. The reason I said year 7 is that I think there's a big difference between a 12 year old who has only just started secondary & a Year 8 child.

Dunlurking Wed 12-Mar-14 11:07:10

Hi Pictures, I've just finished this. (I'm hecouldshine from NAPM btw). I don't think my year 8, 13 year old dd would be quite ready for it. Too many greys for that age, rather than black and white clear portrayals of what's evil and what's good, if that makes sense. Nathan is violent in a slightly random way at times, (and steals) so I'm not sure that my dd would cope with this yet.

A good read, sags a little in the middle, I think, and one boring chapter near the end, but otherwise a very promising debut. I gather the film rights have sold and Karen Rosenfelt (Twilight) is the producer.

jojack17 Fri 14-Mar-14 20:35:41

Has anyone received an email or book yet? I haven't, so assuming I haven't been chosen. Disappointed!

Dunlurking Sat 15-Mar-14 08:08:41

Yes I have - a couple of days ago. Just when I'd gone and bought the kindle edition.

I would pass it on, but I'm doing a Writing Young Adult Fiction course atm so plan to reread the book and scribble all over it, analysing it for "Three Act Structure" and "Doorways of No Return" etc.

Got my copy yesterday, looking forward to starting it later. Love the cover design

Jenni2legs Fri 21-Mar-14 20:37:32

I applied as my son is working his way through Harry Potter - but it sounds like it's still a little old for him. I will put it in the 'later' pile (after I have a cheeky read)

We didn't get a copy even though I have 2 avid readers in the right age group sad ....and they are boys which must surely give bonus points that I've managed to have 2 boys that age who are both still reading for pleasure. smile

StantonLacy Fri 21-Mar-14 20:53:46

Well, I only received this yesterday as part of the giveaway and have finished it already.

A combination of ill me + ill child + lots of sofa time, but also the fact that I honestly didn't want to put it down.

I was intrigued from page one - gradually being given the details of Nathans circumstances in enough depth to really want to find out exactly WHY he was in that situation. And then the narrative looping back so that we did get the backstory.

I loved her writing style. It reminded me a little of something that Stephen King once said about the process of writing books (tried to find the quote, but gave up!) about how he basically used to re read what he had written and try and get rid of ANY extraneous words, of any padding. It feels like Sally Green has done this and very successfully, too. The writing is pared down - very simple, pure terms and also quite brutal at times (but also peppered with some lovely descriptive passages and imagery).

You get a good sense of the protagonist and gain a huge amount of sympathy for him, without necessarily feeling like you approve of some or all of his actions, in fact quite the opposite. I think that's quite a rare thing, really - so many main 'hero' characters in YA are 'misunderstood but moralistic/self deprecating and noble' blah blah, that it's quite refreshing to read something where the central character is quite amibiguous and you are NOT immediately certain of where the story will end up.

I thought it was great, as you can probably tell grin and I can't wait for the next one to come out (Spring 2015?!)

It's going to be a good one to hold onto for both DCs - I already have a few shelves of Pullman, Wynne-Jones, Susan Cooper etc waiting for them and this one can definitely join the ranks.

Many thanks for my copy :-)

Not trying to be funny here, but I'm wondering what the point of the questionnaire was as no-one that has responded on here so far seems to have children who are ready to read the book. confused

youwish Fri 21-Mar-14 21:29:49

Enjoyed it,the story has a good pace except one chapter in the end that is a bit slow,looking forwardto the next book

shaktar Sat 22-Mar-14 06:46:54

All I can say is 'what Stantonlacey said'! Exactly how I felt about it - sparse but not basic writing style, very fast paced, utterly compelling and I also read it over two days.

Dunlurking Sat 22-Mar-14 10:01:03

I can't remember a questionnaire soontobeslendergirl confused - did we complete one when we applied? I've got a ds who is 16 next month, which will be the perfect age for reading this. He's not getting it yet though as he's got Art GCSE coursework to complete, then a shedload of revision.

We had a discussion about this book on our Writing YA fiction course as Sally Green uses a second person point of view for the first 16 pages, which is really unusual and difficult to make work. I love this section. She does it brilliantly - IMHO the best bit of the book.
There's a clip on youtube where you hear about how the publisher from Penguin took on this book - it's at 2mins 30.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zrxvzeTz2c

Started this today, really enjoying it

well, I might be wrong, but I thought I had to fill something in saying what age my children were etc but that may have been something else.

However, I thought the point was that they wanted feedback on the book from the intended audience so therefore the people applying for a free copy would be people with a child in the correct age range available to read the book and provide feedback....it being the Children's books section. Don't get me wrong, I am quite partial to a read of the books my children read, but I wouldn't have applied for a copy on my own behalf.

No form to say what age your children are soontobe just the normal apply for a copy page. I enjoy YA fiction and read it often so I honk I fall into 'target market' and having started it I wouldn't say Half Bad feels like a YA to me but more like an adult fantasy book which I also enjoy

Okay, my mistake, must just be random then.

IreadthereforeIam Tue 25-Mar-14 21:29:17

I know I'm completely the wrong demographic for this book, but I do like a bit of YA, and this was a really good, fast paced read. I would imagine that a teenager of 13+ would be happy reading this (and their parents would be happy for them to read it) - there is some violence, some of it quite bloody, and it hints at swearing. It had a fresh take on witches, and I liked that all was not as it seemed to begin with. I'm quite looking forward to the next instalment. It's just a shame that I'll have to wait for 2015!

Tregurthabird Mon 31-Mar-14 20:22:22

I was fortunate enough to win a copy with Mumsnet and have just finished reading it. I thought it was brilliant! I have really enjoyed young adult dystopian and fantasy novels since reading The Hunger Games trilogy and this fitted into that genre. The scene setting was good and believable and I particularly like how it was started off differently with a chapter only lasting 1 page! the only issue I have is now waiting a year to find out what happens next!

Agggghast Tue 01-Apr-14 12:02:12

Just finished my copy and enjoyed it but I did feel the narrative voice was female and thus Nathan failed to be completely believable to me. I liked the pacy prose but again failed to feel any of the 'darkness' JK produced in her later novels. Also the writer used dialogue to tell the reader how characters felt rather that showing through the narrative. Whilst it was a good read I am not sure I would bother with the sequels.

MamaMummyMum Wed 02-Apr-14 10:17:59

I have just finished reading this, I have to say for a debut novel I am impressed, it had me hooked from the first page. A fast paced, gripping book, can't wait for the next instalment, I am now passing it on to my daughter for her to have read, shall update with what she thinks.

nerysw Thu 03-Apr-14 09:18:21

I finished this last night and can't wait for the next one to come out. I thoroughly enjoyed it - and actually thought it was better written than a fair few adult novels I've read in the past.
I had a mind to give it to a friend's 13 year old as my kids are too young for it and wasn't actually expecting to enjoy it myself. More fool me, I should know better as I really enjoyed Zafon's 'Midnight Palace' which is also badged 'Young Adult'.
There is violence in in but it's far more meaningful and thought provoking than the cartoon violence young teenagers will inevitably see in video games and blockbuster movies.
It's well written and the characters are excellent - totally engaging and I like the fact that Nathan, the lead character, is flawed as it makes him more believable and realistic.
All in all a really good read (not just for teens).

AugustRose Fri 04-Apr-14 10:04:51

I haven't read this yet but my DD who is 12 finished it last night. I wasn't sure whether it would be suitable following comments made above but we talked about it and she decided to start it and see how she felt after the first few chapters.

Needless to say she finished it in 3 days and came down last night saying she can't believe she has to wait another year to find out what happens! She did say there was a bit a death and violence and swearing although nothing more than she hears at school but she wouldn't say anymore as she thinks I will really enjoy it, so doesn't want to spoil it for me.

It looks like this has been another hit and I will come back and post my own views when I've had a chance to read it.

Thank you.

I think I enjoyed it! I will probably read the second one when it comes out but I'm not sure if I really like Nathan very much. It had good pace to the story and it was well written but towards the end it did feel a little like I was 'getting through it' and not fully enjoying it

Candidcandycane Fri 11-Apr-14 14:05:54

Thanks for my free copy, I absolutely loved reading this. it does start a little different from other books in this genre but I really enjoyed that. can't believe I'm going to have to wait a whole year till the next instalment though! so glad to have been introduced to Sally Green, thanks MN smile

missorinoco Mon 14-Apr-14 20:56:45

Interesting book. For a debut novel this is excellent. Adding it to the pile for DC to read in a few years. Thankyou.

Agree the style is more female than male.

bella4024 Tue 15-Apr-14 10:31:11

Thank you for my copy of this book.

When I first started this book, I was not impressed. The story starts off in the second person. I was not a fan of this. But it only lasted a few pages, and was effective at making a point. After that I thought the writing was very good. It was easy to read and gripping. I enjoyed the characters and they felt well fleshed out.

The story was very original, I have not read anything similar. I think it set the trilogy up well and I am excited to read to next one!

My 16 year old sister is very excited to read this one next!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 19-May-14 11:11:19

It's great to see so many mumsnetters loved this as much as we did. For those who haven't read yet, you can read more mumsnet reviews here:

Half Bad reviews

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