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.
©2014 Lawrence W. Gold, M.D. (P)2015 Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.
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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.
"Interesting, fun, but I wanted more science"
Note: Even though this is Book 7 in the series, it works totally fine as a stand alone.
Zack Berg is a gifted wonder boy and his parents Denise and Gabe are very proud of that fact. They do the best they can support their son in finding activities and a school curriculum that will challenge him. Zack’s abilities and his Basque heritage (through his mother Denise) attract Dr. Jorge Maneo to his case. Dr. Maneo has a long-standing hatred of the Spanish government due to a life time of fighting for Basque independence. As Zack starts to explore his Basque heritage, he gets in deeper than he expected.
Set in California, this tale was an interesting mix of medical thriller and political thriller. Starting off with a small snapshot of someone switching sperm samples at some laboratory, the story then jumps ahead a few years, showing another little snapshot, and then again and again until we get to a young Zack starting to blossom into his abilities. It’s no secret that his parents had to go to a fertility clinic for in vitro fertilization, so you know from the start that the sperm sample switch will be important later.
The Maneos have a tortured family past. Alberto went into the priesthood while Jorge was encouraged again and again to attend school and then university. They were raised, for the most part, in Basque Country and fought in their own ways for Basque independence. However one family member after another is killed, usually in some brutal manner. Jorge early on sympathized with the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), a paramilitary Basque separatist group. Subsequently, the FBI has kept tabs on him since he entered the country.
While we are getting that background on the Maneos, Zack ages again and we rejoin him in his teen years. Of course, he’s super smart but he’s also got physical skills beyond those expected for his age. Also, his ability to show compassion is beyond what most adult humans are capable of. Yep, he’s a braniac jock with a heart of gold. At first, this combination was intriguing, but once Zack’s personality is established, his actions and reactions are all rather predictable. I became a little bored with him, but by that time I was caught up in his tale.
Throughout the story, there are these little snippets about Neanderthals. At first, I didn’t really see where this was going but I wanted to find out. Various theories about Neanderthals, including their possible culture and what became of them, are brought up by different characters. I won’t go into details because that would be spoilery. However, as the plot thickens, I found myself way more interested in this than in the ETA. So I wish the author had spent a bit more time on it, and tossed in some more science (I can take it!).
The ending was rather anticlimactic. It was easy to tell early on what the significance of the opening scene of the sperm sample switch was. There’s this action sequence that involves Jorge Maneo and then a bunch of cleanup. Given what we know of Zack’s personality, the ending concerning that plot line was predictable. At the very end, there is a reveal about Jorge Maneo and that again was easy to see coming. So, while I enjoyed the ride, it held only that one little tiny Neanderthal bit for me in terms of surprises.
I received a copy at no cost from the narrator (via the Facebook Audiobook Addicts group) in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Joe Hempel’s accents (Spanish, Basque, Austrian) started off a little rough but smoothed out pretty quickly. His female character voices were believable. However, towards the end of the story, the character voices were not as distinct as they were at the beginning.
"Fascinating and original story though complicated"
Hybrid: Brier Hospital is part of a series of books (though standalone) about Drs. Gabe and Denise Berg, two brilliant scientists who create a similarly brilliant son. The book twists and turns in sci-fi meets alternate universe and takes us back to insidious happenings in Basque where somehow the child is reincarnated.
I wouldn't change anything about Hybrid! It is well written and researched, and Joe Hempel does a great job narrating. Hybrid is definitely a story geared towards those with a medical background and interest in science fiction.
I have listened to several of Joe Hempel's performances, and have enjoyed them all. Joe has a clear, interesting, and nicely modulated voice. He has a rare ability to voice femaie and male well.
Hybrid defintely merits a follow-up book as there is more to learn of the family and the basque history.
I received this audiobook in exchange for an unbiased review via Audible.
"Mired by unimportant detail"
I didn't like this book much. I kept going, somewhat slowly, even though I was tempted to stop nearly the entire way. The writing style annoyed me the most. There were details, but not the right kind. For an example, in one scene we're told that the family was happy they found parking near the back on the way into a science fair. So? Why do we care where they parked? Is this to add atmosphere, to make the book more realistic? I don't know, but what it did for me is think, why is this important? Is it going to come back up later where they need to quickly get into the car, but since they parked so far away it made things worse? No, that never came back up, it was unimportant. It was useless detail. Certainly you need specifics, but the right ones, and this book was off through the entire thing, filled with useless detail and not filled with detail you want.
Some of the story line was interesting, about genetics and specifically engineering children that are super smart. But it wasn't explored very thoroughly, only cursorily. Since a medical doctor wrote the book you would expect more specifics here, but that was missing.
Part of the backbone of the story was about the Basques and the ETA, a Basque separatist terrorist group. That was a unique story line for me, so it kept up some of my interest. I kept hoping for more information about Basques, but didn’t get much. In fact the author never mentioned that there are Basques in France, just Spain so it made me wonder if the author really understood Basque heritage.
Anyway, there’s a whole lot more I could say about why I didn’t like the book, but I won’t. I’ll just say that you can easily skip this book. Since this was book seven in a series that increased my disappointment. I certainly won't be looking for any more in the series, nor anything by the writer.
One note on the narrator, Joe Hempel, he was superb. It was probably what ultimately kept me listening. For full disclosure, I did receive a free audio copy of this book generously given by the narrator, but in no way did it influence anything in my review.
"True Contemporary Sci Fiction"
I've bought other books in the Brier Hospital series, and have found the stories refreshing examples of true science fiction, in the vein of many of Michael Crichton's books - set in contemporary times, and plausible science fiction, not science fantasy. The books I've read are more a loose series which at some point have some scenes in Brier Hospital as the connecting factor, not that there is some common lead character/s throughout. The Plague Within, for example, was heavily set in Brier Hospital, but Hybrid just had some scenes in the location.
When I saw a review copy available for Hybrid, I didn't want to spoil the story reading the summary. Given prior experience I was pretty sure I'd like it. And I was right. I haven't felt the need to follow up on some of the science in the book, but some of the ideas in here about neanderthals, and the Basque were all new to me and gave some fresh ideas and a lot of thing to ponder.
Joe Hempel did a great job at narrating, even more impressive was that he is a new narrator. Combining the story with his narration I found the whole listen a really immersive experience, and I found it just flew by, and I didn't miss anything, or have to rewind as I felt I missed something important, or got confused (and yes this does happen to me quite a bit with some audiobooks...). The cast of characters in the book was reasonably large, and there were time shifts for flashbacks, a number of character viewpoints, but I never lost track of where and when I was. That I feel is due to both the writer and narrator.
I'd thoroughly recommend Hybrid, and in fact any book in the Brier Hospital series. And don't be put off by the fact that some aren't available. Each novel seems stand alone, and in my experience to date can be read in any order,
"A complex but fascinating tale."
HYBRID: Brier Hospital #7
Author: Lawrence W. Gold, M.D.
Type of Book: Audiobook - Unabridged
Narrator: Joe Hempel
Length: 7 hours, 33 minutes
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary Science Fiction
Release Date: January 23, 2015
Publisher: Grass Valley Publishing
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Firstly, I want to mention that although this is Book Seven of the Brier Hospital series, I have not read any of the previous six books in the series. In fact, this is a stand-alone novel and it is not necessary to read the previous books to either enjoy or to understand this book. Now, with that being said, I enjoyed this book immensely and I do plan to read the author's other books.
Denise Berg, a professor of psychology, and her husband Gabe, a molecular biologist wanted badly to have a child. Unable to conceive on their own, they turned to fertility treatments.
After many failed attempts, they were thrilled when Denise finally became pregnant. Because of the intelligence of both parents, they expected their child to be smart. They just didn't expect him to be extraordinary.
They name their child Zack and this book chronicles his life into his teenage years. He is gifted both physically and mentally. In fact, he has a genius IQ.
Denise has Basque heritage and Zack becomes curious about that part of his lineage.
Because of Zack's abilities he attracts the interest of many people. Some of them have less than noble plans for Zack.
Professor Jorge Moneo grew up in Basque Country, a place of violent confrontation between Spain and the Basque people's struggle for independence.
Spanish security forces murdered his parents, his grandmother, his wife and his only son. Jorge had been a happy and reasonably content man until the day his family was brutally murdered. The motive for the murders was the simple fact that they were Basque.
As of that day Jorge swears that he will get revenge. He attacks one of the murderers in the street but is unable to kill him. The Spanish authorities suspect that he is the attacker, but without proof they are unable to prosecute him. Instead, they deport him to the United States and warn him to never return. Jorge may not be able to do anything about the murders at the time, but he begins plotting his revenge.
Once he settles in the United States he opens a school for gifted children with Basque bloodlines. It is at this school where he meets Zack.
The teenager and the Basque revolutionary become inextricably linked and the lives of both of them will never be the same.
This book is absolutely fascinating. I have to admit that before reading this book I had never heard of the Basque people or of the ETA which is "the hard-line “military” wing of the Euzkadi Ta Azkatasuna (ETA; Basque for “Basque Homeland and Liberty”), a terrorist liberation organization seeking Basque self-determination and secession from Spain." - Information obtained from the britannica website.
The author has woven an intricate and interesting tale of a family struggling to raise a gifted child with a political thriller and a medical thriller that is reminiscent of Robin Cook's writing. This book is a truly unique experience.
Even if the Basque element was removed from this story, it would still be an interesting book.
Zack's parents want what is best for him. How do you balance a supreme intellect with regular childhood? They want to challenge him, both physically and mentally, but they also want him to just "be a regular kid." They want him to enjoy his childhood and not to ignore the value of regular experiences such as playing with kids his own age.
Add in the political issues of Basque independence and the medical issues around superior DNA and you have an excellent story.
Because this book is so complex and contains so many different threads, I am sure that my review is not doing it justice. However, I highly recommend this audiobook.
The narrator, Joe Hempel, has a great voice. His pacing was perfect and the way he narrates allows the listener to be pulled into the story. I listen to A LOT of audiobooks and there are a lot of different narrators. I find that if I don't like the narrator's voice then I end up not liking the book. Joe Hempel does a wonderful job of narrating HYBRID.
A good narrator can make all the difference to the listener. Joe Hempel's narration enhanced my enjoyment of this book and basically that is all a listener can desire from a narrator. I rate the narration as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I rate the audiobook version of HYBRID as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lawrence W. Gold was born in Brooklyn and attended medical school in Chicago.
The war in Vietnam interrupted his medical training, but he returned to the United States in 1968 to complete his training in internal medicine and nephrology. He spent twenty-three years in Berkeley, California in a hospital-based practice caring for patients with complicated illnesses often in ICU, and served as Chief of Internal Medicine and Family Practice.
Lawrence and his wife, Dorkis retired in 1995. After years spent sailing he has written many novels and one non-fiction book.
ABOUT THE NARRATOR:
Joe Hempel is a book reviewer who has broken into the publishing scene with audiobook narration, voice acting, and eBook editing and formatting.
* I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
"Interesting and throughly researched book"
Well researched and interesting history about the oppression of the Basques. Narrator Joe Hempel takes two dry subjects, history and science and reads with confidence and the ability to create visuals of each character.
The combination of history and science.
The background of the conflict of the Basques.
I thought "Hybrid" was a good story with a deeper meaning. Zack was a child whose intelligence increased fairly rapidly. I felt the story had a subtle hinting at good morals as well with his parents, Denise and Gabe helping him cope with issues that can arise from having a gifted child. The only thing is that Zack was born IVF and doesn't have normal genetics. He has Spanish and Neanderthal DNA.
Zack had issues to deal with such as a teacher who bullied him because he was smart and calling the police on him after accusing him of cheating. His friend Ella helped him also. The story follows him through school as he grows up and has good character building, along with a kind of sub plot with his uncle Jorge who was exiled to the U.S. from Spain. The FBI gets involved and the plot thickens.
Overall, I would recommend this story and would be interested in listening to other audiobooks from Lawrence Gold, MD.
Joe Hempel did a good job narrating this audiobook. It was somewhat monotone but with that being said, I always knew who was speaking and he spoke clearly and had good control and an even tone. Great book.
Audiobook received in exchange for unbiased review.
A couple has a baby by invitro fertilization.He's extremely talented,smart and kind...until it all changes.This book is well written for the most part.There were a few things,dates of items available at the time, speech used by the characters,etc,that I wondered about,but got past.The narrator,Joe Hempel,starts out rather stiff but warms up by the end of the book.All in all a good read.
"What we may become."
An interesting book that looks, in a fictional way, how genetics may lead to the next step on the evolutionary ladder. A good book that I would recommend if you enjoy science fantasy/ fiction.
"Painful fable of treachery and massacre"
Throughout its tortured twists and turns, the story kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering how it was going to end.
Characters spent too much effort trying to get into each others' minds. I'd have made each character adhere to a fixed perspective consistent with his or her personality. Occasionally I got the impression the author's internal discourse was being parceled up between the interlocutors.
Joe has an attractive voice and delivered his lines clearly. I could listen to him all day (…and did).
The parents' first encounter with the twisted Jorge Moneo at the babies' ward elicited an authentic thrill of horror when Denise is moved to remark "What a lovely man!"
(Reviewer was in receipt of a complimentary copy.)
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