Finally I get a chance to write up this long awaited review! As it concerns werewolves I thought that it would be a suitable one for Halloween. Hybrid is the first in the trilogy of books by author Nick Stead. The book begins with the character (also called Nick) which is a “meta-meta” concept that I love when I come across (see The New York Trilogy et al). This is no ordinary coming of age story as during the course of the novel, Nick faces troubles at both home and school whilst dealing with becoming a werewolf. I met author Nick Stead earlier on this year as we are now both members of the same writing group. He specialises in writing horror books but is not scary at all in real life as he’s a genuinely nice guy! Sorry to bust the myth Nick! Of course this is a slight disclaimer but I really want to emphasise that I would never give a good review to something that I felt did not merit it.
As soon as I started Hybrid I found it to be one of those books that you get lost in and time passes by whilst you need to turn the pages. It is very compelling! It only took me a long time to read because I seem to have a constant ten books or so on the go, but every time I picked up Hybrid I got lost in the writing. I think this is because of the way that it is written and that there is such a pull of empathy that you feel for the main character when he gets stuck in increasingly difficult situations. What’s even more impressive though is that Stead began writing Hybrid when he was just fifteen years old! Jealous much?!
I don’t want to give away too much but will say that Hybrid deals with the conflict between the humanity of Nick the teenager and the instincts of Nick the werewolf. This is cleverly delineated by changing the format of the text from italics when he’s a wolf to standard form when he’s human. I have to admit I’m a bit of a wuss really and quite squeamish and there are some moments of gore in the book but I’ve read worse and you can kind of skip over the gory descriptions without losing any of the story if you’re really squeamish.
Stead is very adept at drawing not only a convincing main character but also the main villains of the piece, his English teacher Aughtie and his father who both come across as truly awful characters whom you root for the author to escape. I also really liked the characterisation of the friends who help Nick along his journey. Nick’s band of friends seem to both help and hinder him on his journey as he realises that he risks exposing them to danger the more that they learn about how he has changed. That means inevitably that he has to make new friends which he does in the form of vampire Lady Sarah, a stately character who has her own dark secrets.
The character of Nick does make mistakes sometimes fatal ones, this is a world where the shades are firmly black and white, evil and good and humanity seems to generally be the sense of human conscience that Nick uses to make more informed judgements which he learns to do as the book develops.
The final two books in the trilogy are Hunted (Hybrid) and the soon to be released Vengeance: Hybrid Book 3 Nick is currently out and about at various Horror Conventions throughout the UK. If you’re nearby why not pop along and meet him and get a signed copy of Hybrid, Hunted and be one of the first to get your hands on Vengeance! See Nick’s website for details here.
If I could sum up this entire trilogy though, I would say that there’s an awful lot of humanity in these werewolf books.