Taking place about a month after the first book, Nathan is living in the woods of Wales, hunted by Hunter commanders Soul and Wallend and every Hunter in the continent, primarily becasue he’s Half-coded (half black witch, half white witch, which in this world makes you unable to join either side) and the son of the most dangerous Black Witch Marcus, who finally talked to Nathan face to face and allowed him to drink his blood so he could get his superpowers. With these, he seems to have another side of him, an animal he can’t control who goes berserk and causes Nathan to literally eat the hearts of his victims out. Witch and prophet Mercury betrayed Nathan and ran off with his girlfriend Annalise in a magic coma, and they’re both missing. Nathan’s waiting for his best friend Gabriel to return and he so far hasn’t shown up, so he could be dead. Soon Nathan realizes he has to go see for himself and try to figure out the most logical next step in both getting the peaceful life he’ll never get, and taking down the Council in order to ever have a hope of getting it.
I gave only one and a half stars to the first book, and one of the main reasons was its straightforward tendency to tell rather than show situations in too dismissive a writing style that prevented us from having time to digest situations that Nathan had to have been thinking largely about and flat-out avoid emotional descriptions that would’ve been very beneficiary. Well, after I decided to get off my butt and read the last book in the personally-hated 5th Wave trilogy, The Last Star, and enjoying it loads, I decided to go back to some of the old series I hadn’t gotten around to continuing because of distaste, and this was one of them. Here, that dismissive writing style has vanished, and what we have in replacement is what I wanted all along; not just a slower and more fitting writing style for the story but more imagination on the magic.
I was also surprised at how much more of a relationship is brought into place with Nathan and his infamous father Marcus. My own father and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues and we don’t bond as much as we wish we could. Reading about them having some time together, despite the rough past, was a warm experience. This book is filled with similar warm experiences, like some characters who say they unrequitedly missed them or thought the other was dead.
Something that I feel is hard to do is OMG moments. Moments where it treads on ground as the pages go on and then hits you like a million missiles you should have seen coming but didn’t. Sometimes the best way to do it is to let you, the author, be taken back by it yourself. It’s harder than you think to make a big end surprise in YA reading, and I felt that Sally Green may not have seen the realizations coming as the book was being written, but either way, she nailed it and made me give it some thought long after I put the book down. Not only that, the end result of this book not only made me desire Half Lost instantaneously, but it made me realize Nathan was going to have to think back on decisions he made that led to this, without blatantly saying it. Great books are ones where we read between the lines and we surrender happily to doing so.
A few small problems emerged. The first half felt not quite that entertaining, primarily because despite my disappointment in the first book, it still packed a wallop of a climax and cliffhanger and not much was being done in jumping on that cliffhanger. Also, I felt sometimes the storylines repeated and repeated during fights and the end felt a little overly fast. But the impressed feeling I had as I was reading that ending and the feeling I had after putting it down definitely make up for that.
Half Wild and The Last Star are the two most surprising book recommendations of the year, and I feel this one is a scar better.