I finished the first book in this trilogy a couple of days ago. It’s a wild, gruesome ride and I loved every minute of it.
This book, not so much.
I want to start by highlighting the good parts. Some scenes were great. There are a couple of scenes with Gabriel and Nathan that almost had me in tears, they were so beautifully written. The parts with Marcus in were very good, too.
Also, I genuinely think Sally Green is a great writer. With a trilogy about witches, magic and superpowers, it would have been easy to have gone completely purple-prose and hammed it up. She does none of that. Her writing is very gritty and very real.
There were some characters that I loved. Nathan is one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve read about for a long time and it was fascinating to watch him embrace his Black Witch side. Marcus, his father, I found very compelling also and I think it takes a very skilled writer to make a mass murderer a sympathetic character. And Gabriel. Aaah...Gabriel. Fit, gorgeous, witty, able to handle a gun and utterly devoted to Nathan.
Unfortunately, I had a bit of a problem with some of the other characters. Annalise was one, and a lot of the plot revolved around her. I thought she was a complete drip and I couldn’t for the life of me see why Nathan was so obsessed with her. She had no spark. She wasn’t witty, she wasn’t useful in a fight, she didn’t really know whether she wanted to join the Alliance, she didn’t even know what her Gift was, for crying out loud. She was just a pretty face. Blah.
I get that seventeen year old boys often think with their junk instead of their heads when it comes to girls, but Nathan is such a complex character that I felt his obsession with this one-dimensional Disney-Princess girl was wrong. Just...wrong.
Also, it didn’t help the Annalise-Is-Great cause when she explained that the reason she left Nathan to be carved to bits by her psychotic brother (back in Half Bad) was because her parents locked her in her room. Huh? That’s not good. You shimmy out the window, or you break the lock, or you punch your dad in the face. You don’t just sit there and wait for the boy you love to be butchered.
I had problems with the plot as well and the biggest problem was that there just didn’t seem to be one. The first half of the book revolves around finding Annalise. Nathan, Gabriel and two new characters (whose names I’ve already forgotten) just seem to zoom about all over Europe, without anything much actually happening. There are a couple of good bits, but they are few and far between and after the all-thriller-no-filler excitement of Half Bad it just fell a little flat. It felt like the author put all of her awesomest ideas into Half Bad, but couldn’t quite seem to think of anything to happen in this book.
I know Sophomore Slump is a thing, where the eager-beaver author proudly delivers the final, final draft of the first instalment of their trilogy and the publisher goes, ‘Thanks very much. You now have exactly-’ Looks at watch ‘-three months to produce the first draft of the next instalment. GO! GO! GO!’
Let me reiterate: I enjoy Sally Green’s writing and I would happily read a different series of hers, if she writes one, or a standalone and I kind of want to know what happens to Nathan and Gabriel, but I just don’t think I have the energy to read the third instalment.