“The Hybrids” by Quentin Eckman

This is a very specific genre, a cross between Romantic Comedy and Fanciful Science Fiction, requiring a larger dollop of suspension of disbelief than usual. However, if you allow yourself to be carried away on waves of feel-goodness, you will be amply repaid.
The main plotline involves a super-human alien who visited Earth ten thousand years ago and messed with the genetics of homo sapiens, giving us the ability to destroy our planet. As punishment, he is sent back to fix the problem.
He is shipped into the mind of a problem gambler, recently beaten past the point of recovery by a nasty bad guy. Fortunately, our hero gets entangled in a fascinating family with, coincidentally, one sister who is a genetic physicist. Cue Cupid, hearts, diamonds, spades and flowers.
The conflicts of this complicated plot involve staying out of the hands of the gangsters while working through the personal, interpersonal, and social problems of the family. While most of this action is portrayed in a feel-good style, there is a dark undercurrent that surfaces now and then, and happily-ever-after is always in doubt.
The main appeal of this story is the characters. Most are very sympathetic. Even stereotyped baddies get moments of real-life emotion. It doesn’t take us long to really care what happens to everyone, which makes the read enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the writing suffers from a lack of precision and clarity. There is far too much telling by the author, both of plot and ideas. I mean, we get the script of a standup routine, not once but twice, in cut-and-paste full repetition.
This stretching of our patience is particularly notable at the danger point two-thirds of the way through. Just when the reader is looking for the action to heat up, the story gets mired in extraneous plot details and philosophy.
The most confusing element, however, is a loose POV. There are two characters in the hero’s head, and the author switches back and forth between the two without cluing the reader in.
And thematically, in a book about humans destroying our planet we hope that the author will have some new insight, however comedic, into the solution. I was disappointed in this case.
I really enjoyed the story, but a slash-and-burn edit would make the book much more readable.
4 stars

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.

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