A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Half Wild is the second book in a fantasy trilogy about witches that the publisher is marketing to ages 12 and up. However, the amount of violence here and the overall edginess of the content make it pretty consistent with books most publishers aim toward the more mature young-adult crowd: high schoolers, not middle schoolers. The violence is consistent and gory when the main character, a witch, gets the gift of turning into an animal he can't always control. He guts enemies and tears out their throats, with descriptions of the aftermath. Many other witches die (from knives and poison bullets) in what is the start of an all-out war among them. There's plenty of talk of mass killings by hanging and torture. Sexual content also is mature: Two 17-year-olds have sex, although it's not described. Language follows suit with ample use of "s--t," though "f--k" is rare. Main character Nathan is given to angry outbursts and surrounded by violence, but he never enjoys killing and shows loyalty to his friends.
What's the story?
Nathan is frustrated and in love. All he wants to do is save his sweetheart Annalise from a death-like sleep and hide away with her from all the warring witches that want him found and killed just for being the son of notorious black witch Marcus. Instead of immediately finding the black witch Mercury who has her, he's stuck in a cave awaiting the return of his friend Gabriel after they were both chased by Hunters. Finally, a witch who helped save Gabriel comes to find him, and the friends are reunited. Gabriel owes a powerful black witch named Van his life, and Van is ready to strike a bargain with Nathan and Gabriel: They join an Alliance of witches to help fight against British witches killing masses of black witches and any white witches that get in their way, and she helps them find Mercury and Annalise.
Is it any good?
As all sequels in a trilogy go, HALF WILD is a setup for the big finish -- and it's an exciting series buildup all around. The war drums are beating, and this is the book where everyone forms their grudges, chooses sides, and gets ready to fight. But the time doesn't pass twiddling thumbs. There's plenty of fighting -- bloody fighting -- with hunters and a particularly elusive and deadly black witch. And there's the main character's fight within himself to control his new gift. Nathan fears what others think about his being a half black and half white witch -- one who also becomes a dangerous animal when provoked. And he's in love with someone who's all wrong for him and not in love with someone who adores him.
Despite all the blood on display, it's still more about the characters, especially Nathan. Which is probably why readers may feel cheated when certain scenes are hurried through. Two parts feel particularly rushed: when Nathan explores his gift with his father, and when his relationship with Annalise starts to go sour. Overall, this is a great sequel that promises a thrilling finish.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the line between good and evil in the Half Bad trilogy. Why and how does the Alliance form? Do you think there can be a truce between white and black witches?
Nathan is angry and brooding and at first reluctant to join any Alliance and fight for a "cause." So, is he a hero in this story? Why, or why not?
If you could turn 17 and get a witchy gift, what would you like your gift to be?
- Author: Sally Green
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking
- Publication date: March 24, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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