Denise Berg, a professor of psychology, and her molecular biologist husband, Gabe, expected an intelligent child. When Denise gave birth to Zack, they were thrilled. They were not surprised to find that Zack had physical and mental gifts but were astounded by their magnitude. By every parameter Zack was extraordinarily gifted, and they took pride in their genes and their good fortune. What they didn't know was that Zack's gifts were the result of more than good luck and Berg family genes but depended on genetic material from an unusual source.
Zack's abilities would ultimately attract others with less than benign interests. Professor Jorge Moneo had grown up in Basque Country, a place of violent confrontation between Spain and the Basque people's struggle for independence. When the Spanish security forces murder his parents, grandmother, wife, and child, Jorge swears revenge. He attacks the leader of the group responsible for the murders but fails to kill him. Subsequently Spain deports him to the United States, where his plans for retribution continue unabated. Jorge's obsession with revenge eventually involves Zack and his family.
The novel interweaves the development of a gifted child and his family and the political intrigue of Basque, Spain.
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Joe Hempel narration is very good. He was able to portray the different character with his voice.
genetics, culture, and anthropology
(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)
Interesting how this is not a genre I normally even browse through. Why did I volunteer to give this a listen? Why, because Mr. Hempel is one of my favorite narrators, of course.
Two things should have kept me far away from this book. One, I think I got my fill of genetic mutations during the 90’s when that topic was as overdone and as flamboyant as YA vampire novels are today. Two, this is book SEVEN in a SERIES I’ve never heard of, which means, I’ve haven’t already read books 1-6. This is something I NEVER do. I don’t even watch movies out of order. My hubby says I’m crazy like that.
I truly believe I blindly dove in just on the basis that Mr. Hempel was narrating and I didn’t give a damn about anything else.
While this is definitely not an example of his best work, it is not below any of the standards I expect from him, nor is it below any of my personal standards. Mr. Hempel has done a fantastic job once again.
OK, no more fangirl, bs. I’ll move on to the story I would never otherwise have delved into.
Hybrid draws on the hopes and fears of women who desperately want to have a child, and after what amounts to a miracle, is blessed with one born with natural talents. Having never experienced people for whom honesty is such a strong characteristic, I have a bit of trouble relating to the parents who gift their child with such openness. The parents are painted as almost perfect, seeking help when frustrated, listening when they are supposed to, fighting through the character “flaw” that is the Denise’s understandable overprotectiveness.
Zack, himself seems a bit too good to be true, from the first time he opens his mouth to his absolute understanding of everything from the time he was born. But that is the way he was “meant” to be.
Hybrid’s focus on the Basque culture creates an interest to do a bit of outside research. I love a book that makes me want to learn new things.
The story also focuses on human nature: the idea of revenge, the concept of terrorism, etc. However, I think that even with the horrendous events, the story itself is too passive to create the heart-thumping reader response I think should be expected from the brutality.
Without any knowledge of previous or subsequent novels in this series, I have to say that Hybrid does a fantastic job of standing on its own, without cliffhanger, or confusing/repetitious/explanatory references to prior stories.
I give this a solid three stars, because while it is well-written and superbly narrated, it is not something I loved. I didn’t pull at my heart-strings or make me feel any emotion more than passing curiosity / food for thought.
Remember, that is just my opinion. If you like stories about genetics, you should definitely check this one out.
- A. Sines