Book Review: Hybrid by Brian O’Grady
Amanda Flynn’s life changed forever when her Red Cross relief team was exposed to a deadly virus in the Honduras, leaving her the sole survivor. Seven years later, when she thinks most of the horror is over, the virus resurfaces in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and she finds herself forced to team up with various government officials, a priest, and a coroner, in a fight against a deadly terrorist plot.
I admit that I bought this book in a haze that I call “Kindle Sale Fever.” Periodically Amazon has sales of Kindle books where they suddenly cost 99 cents to $2.99, and I tend to impulse buy. Oops. (I mean, if you’d told 7 year old me such a thing would even be possible one day, I probably would have curled up and died in pure bliss). In any case, the Amazon blurb led me to think this was more in the transhumanist/zombie genre than evil terrorist plot thriller, which I tend to avoid. It’s nothing against the genre; I just don’t do politics in my happy fun reading time. So, this book was already facing a challenge to satisfy someone who doesn’t tend to like that kind of story.
At first, it definitely was working for me. The plot of Amanda Flynn mysteriously surviving the illness and escaping the CDC to avoid being treated like a guinea pig was engrossing for the sheer humanity of it. The initial break-out in Colorado Springs was also intriguing with the virus killing some people but healing others from serious illnesses like childhood leukemia. At a certain point though it started to feel like O’Grady was trying to do too much. The book was trying to straddle multiple genres and plot-lines that didn’t quite mesh. Among the things going on: new general trying to prove himself, survivors who turn psychic, Amanda dealing with her guilt, new African-American head detective dealing with being head detective in a largely white city, priest having crisis of faith, little girl miraculously healed of leukemia, coroner who might be a sociopath, definitely evil dude who hallucinates (or might not be hallucinating) some random Russian guy, head of the CDC trying to figure out the spy in his office, and Arab dude who may or may not be defecting from the terrorists to the Americans. See what I mean? This would be totally fine if they all somehow tied up in the end, but the main issue in the book of these survivors with psychic powers is just kind of dropped. We get far more information on the foiled terrorist plot than on the effects of the virus on the survivors, and that is by far the more interesting part of the story.
It’s also bothersome that the main character, Amanda Flynn, is the least well-rounded and likeable. The priest and the coroner are far more interesting and well-rounded, showing that O’Grady can write characters well, but Amanda simply rings false. Perhaps part of this is that we see the priest and the coroner before they become infected and are still entirely human. The story of Amanda and her survival in the Honduras is simply never fully told, and I think that would have helped a lot, even if addressed only in a flashback.
Overall, although the story itself is not for me, it does suffer from some characterization/plotting issues. Thus, I would recommend it to huge fans of terrorist thrillers, who would probably still enjoy it.
2.5 out of 5 stars