So here's a problem. Sometimes once you read a really great book then after you read a pretty sub-standard book and you want to go back and update the rating of another book. Right now, I kind of want to go back and give Cress 5 stars just because after slogging through Half Wild I appreciated that book so much more. I have not been as disappointed in a book in a series since I finished Dean Koontz's Saint Odd (Odd Thomas #7).
I really liked Half Bad, but still hoped that Sally Green would take more care with regards to world building and adding in more details since a lot of time things would happen and there was no explanation. I think the author has all of these ideas in her head and they are just not making it into the final version of her books. Right now I think this book is a good outline and layers need to be included. Told in the first person, we continue the story of half black teenage witch, Nathan.
The plot of Half Wild picks up days after the events in Half Bad. We have Nathan still on the run from Hunters who will stop at nothing to kill him and his father Marcus. Nathan is searching for his friend Gabriel and also trying to come up with a plan to save his sort of girlfriend Annalise from a sleep spell.
Nathan should be a complex character. Too bad he's not. I have seen puddles with more depth than he has at this point in the story. Nathan should be torn. I get that. He was raised in a household that in terms loved and despised him. Then he was stolen away and treated like an animal for two years. Nathan's story grabbed me from the first in Half Bad. His current plight in Half Wild bored me to tears.
We have the introduction of two new black witches that have somehow found Gabriel and use that to lure Nathan to them. Instead of there being some question of these people not being who or what they claim to be, right away we find out that they are trying to build a faction of half black/white, black, and white witches to fight against the Hunters who are starting a reign to wipe out all black witches and anyone that is against their actions. That right there should have been the whole plot in this book. Instead we meander along with Nathan feeling torn and insisting that these new people and Gabriel put themselves in danger to free Annalise. It just added unnecessary padding to this book.
The character of Gabriel who I came to adore in Half Lies proceeds to act like a love struck teenager throughout this whole book. Gabriel who knows how dangerous the white witches are keeps doing his best at impromptu moments to get Nathan to admit to something between them. I felt badly at first for Gabriel. Heck we all have had that person that we liked that l didn't like us that way. Instead we have Gabriel acting like a brat at times about Nathan and Annalise. Heck I love that there is potential for a same sex relationship to be included in this book. It was just clumsily done here. Maybe it is because we get to hear Nathan's thoughts and we know that he loves Gabriel, just not that way. I think with how the whole book was going, that readers could have been spared typical teenage angst every other chapter when people were trying to murder them and they were going around killing people.
Other characters in this book had little to no depth to them at all. Annalise might as well be a bowl of oatmeal (with no sugar or milk added) at this point. I really liked this character in the last book. I got why Nathan was drawn to her and why he loved her. This book turns her into a shrill crying teenage girl with no brains at all.
I think the main issue is that the group of witches that were supposed to be fighting the white witches just had no personalities at all besides them still not trusting one another. The leadership seemed splintered and all we would hear when people were training is that they seemed to be running. There was no explanation of people practicing their gifts or using spells, etc. You would think that more people would be up for this cause considering the events we hear described, but instead it sounds like we have maybe 6 adults and a bunch of teenagers running around in the woods "training".
The writing needs to be fixed pronto. We just have Nathan's voice to guide us about people, settings, etc. and besides him describing every freaking person's eyes that he meets, there is not a lot going on there detail wise. This book just has things happening and we hear how he feels about it and it is written in such a clumsy way. For example, say Gabriel says something to Nathan and Nathan feels badly that he can't respond in a way that Gabriel likes. We have Gabriel speaking and then Nathan saying I wish that I could feel something I feel so torn and I know that Gabriel can see that in my face. Um. What? Just say it. Say words.
It doesn't help that it makes no sense that apparently a bunch of witches are being murdered/tortured/experimented on and no one is doing anything about it. And why are the non-magical not noticing a thing? That is one of the big problems of this book for me. It is not realistic that all of these events keep happening in a vacuum with no one figuring it out.
The pacing was really not done well. I think it is because each of the chapters are maybe 3-4 pages long and there is not a lot of time to build up suspense since we just have Nathan and party going from place to place getting into skirmishes.
Half Wild takes place in Europe in cities and that's all I can really say about the setting. You really would not know that since there is no description of anything to give a person a sense of landmarks at all besides people saying here and there that the European witches are trying to flee.
The ending was so bad that I just laughed at some point. It makes no sense the events that happened and we have Nathan having no common sense since he blames one person for what happens instead of him realizing that another person was more to blame and he should be more angry about of instead of him and his quest for vengeance which I guess will make up most of book three. I don't like quitting a book series before I get to the end. However, in this case, I will happily just skip book three. I hope that Ms. Green is given more time to set up the story, expand the world building in this book, and actually write her characters' more consistently and sympathetically.