"Hybrid," Brian O'Grady

Pros: Some pieces of interesting plots in here
Cons: Not sure where to start…
Rating: 1 out of 5

This is a review of the Kindle e-book version (there is also a paperback available).

 

The official description of the book on Amazon is, in this case, probably better than I could do. If I tried to write one I’d have several false starts and end up with a messy, jumbled accounting. So, here’s the official take on the plot: “A virus engineered for genocide has been released in Colorado Springs, leading to mass, and seemingly unexplained violence. Some of the survivors of the infection begin to evolve into something that is both less than and more than human. The race is on to prevent world-wide release of the virus.”

I have a total weakness for bio-thrillers for some reason, maybe because the idea of a virus threatening humanity seems all-too-possible these days. The reviews of this one looked decent at the time that I picked it up, so I thought I’d end up with something at least somewhat enjoyable. Unfortunately, I didn’t.


 

First, my apologies to the author. It looks like this might be his first book, and I know how much it sucks to get harsh reviews. I’m just one reader, we all like something different, and I hope he’ll thus take my criticisms with a grain of salt. That said, I write reviews so that prospective readers can hopefully judge for themselves whether they’d like a book, and I’m not going to soft-sell my experience of a book if I didn’t enjoy it. So, to Brian O’Grady: if you don’t like harsh reviews, you might want to leave now. There’s no shame in it.

Hybrid feels like one of those old-style puppet shows, where there’s a guy behind a mini-stage working marionettes on strings and speaking in a different voice for each. You can see that there are different characters, but you can hear and see that ultimately they’re all being controlled by the same person, who wrote all of their lines.

That’s what this book felt like. Characters (or the author) tell us how they feel instead of showing us. Characters often say things that I can’t buy into; this is most obvious when one of them says something funny. It becomes clear that most of the characters’ jokes are things that the author thought it would be funny to say, not necessarily things the characters would find funny or make jokes about. Similarly, characters seem to take actions based on what the author thought would make for a touching or dramatic scene, rather than based on what would make the most sense for them. I particularly had trouble with this regarding many of the scenes that involved government or military characters.

It’s great that O’Grady wanted to give depth to all of his characters, even the side ones, but he does this in exactly the wrong way. In the middle of a scene he’ll take a sudden side-jaunt into baldly explaining some aspect of a character’s history or background, even if we’ll only see the person in this one scene. It’s done in a completely expository manner, rather than allowing the characters’ actions and words to speak for themselves. In addition, most of the main characters have highly exaggerated personalities, making them seem like caricatures of themselves.

The pacing is also off. There’s so much detail to everything, and everyone’s emotions and reactions are explained in such detail, that there is no tense buildup to climactic events. Everything has the same plodding pace to it. Characters seem to forget things they already knew at random moments, and there were definitely scenes that had real holes in them (my favorite example comes near the climax of the book, so I’ll skip it in the interest of avoiding spoilers).

Then there are the moments that just made me go, “huh?!” A character says, “Your eyes are moist, Amanda,” in what is supposed to be an emotionally touching scene. Seriously, does anyone at all talk like this? It sounds more like a description of a symptom than a comment on an emotional reaction.

The effects of the virus—well, let’s just say the virus gives people fairly generic super-powers. Even the characters themselves compare themselves to the X-Men, except the X-Men are more individualized and interesting.

 

There are some ideas in here worth exploring, some concepts that interested me, and some lines that made me smile. But ultimately I found Hybrid to be an exercise in frustration. I should also note, since this is often a question when dealing with e-books, that the editing is not great. I’ve seen worse, but if you’re particularly sensitive to poor editing then this probably isn’t the book for you.

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4 comments on “"Hybrid," Brian O'Grady
  1. jakson says:

    Dear heather,
    First of all I would like to agree with your point “if you don’t like harsh reviews, you might want to leave now”.
    harsh reviews and criticism should be taken with open mind as they can help us to enhance our work.
    Your review is based on your personal experience, and this can help to make our decision about the book.

    • heather says:

      I try not to be too harsh, especially on an author’s early works. But I also can’t pretend I didn’t dislike something. I figure it’s okay if an author wants to skip reading the review because it’s negative. Otherwise, I hope it’ll at least give them a perspective on why someone might not like what they wrote. That doesn’t mean they have to agree with it, or change what they’re doing because of it. But you can’t decide whether or not it’s worth making that change until you know that it matters to one or more of your readers.

  2. Marisa says:

    The amazon review is engaging and I was planning to read that book as a part of a goodreads group activity. I am having second thoughts now. If a book doesn’t have well developed individualized characters, it kills the book for me. I am sure that as the bio-thriller fan you already read Stephen King’s ‘the stand’? If you didn’t, I highly recommend it.

    • heather says:

      I absolutely loved “The Stand”. It’s such an engaging look at what could happen if that sort of illness got loose, and King truly kicks it into overdrive by adding the epic good-versus-evil aspect.

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