Editorial Review: The Hybrid: Book 1 by E.K. Frances
Sebastian Parker is a thirteen-year-old “alpha” who wants nothing more than to be a healer, but his life changes forever after joining the Academy and discovering that he is not like the other students.
The Hybrid introduces readers to Sebastian Parker, a thirteen-year-old boy living with his father after the death of his mother and brother. Like his father, Sebastian is an alpha, someone who has developed special abilities that are like magic to ordinary humans.
Early on, it becomes clear that Sebastian’s home situation is not exactly ideal, so he is excited to finally join the Academy, a place where alphas learn how to refine their skills. Ordinarily, alphas are tested on their first day of joining the academy and assigned to one of the four “cores” based on their abilities. However, Sebastian is a hybrid with traits from all four cores, which means that he will grow up to be the most powerful alpha in more than two millennia.
Although Sebastian would like nothing more than to become a healer, his father has made it very clear that he wants him to be a dark alpha, called a Necro, or he will be pulled out of the academy. Sebastian’s hybrid qualities provide him with the unique opportunity to choose his core, and he selects Necro to please his father even though it earns him fear, rejection, and brutality from his peers. The Hybrid deals with how Sebastian handles life at the Academy while trying to keep to the Light despite everything pushing him towards Darkness.
There’s no denying that The Hybrid contains many familiar elements from other popular titles such as the Harry Potter, Maze Runner, and Divergent series, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. Unlike Hogwarts, the Academy is a dangerous place where it is not uncommon for students to meet grisly fates during their training. As a Necro, things are much worse for Sebastian, especially as being a Hybrid makes him a target for both students and teachers. The story can be heartbreaking at times as Sebastian has to endure far more pain and torture than any child his age should ever have to do. However, there are lighter moments, too, as Sebastian makes a few unlikely friends and embarks on unexpected adventures.
The Hybrid is written in first person, so readers can experience everything that happens to Sebastian alongside him. While his story forms the majority of the book, there are also sections where the perspective switches to that of other characters, including some of his teachers. Although brief, these sections are great for seeing events that Sebastian experienced in a new light.
The writing in The Hybrid is fast-paced and allows readers to quickly become immersed in the story of Sebastian and his world. While it doesn’t get bogged down in too many details about alphas and how they became the dominant rulers of the world, there’s just enough backstory to keep readers invested. Despite his dangerous powers, Sebastian is also a very likable character and shows kindness in situations where many others would have chosen retaliation or revenge. However, there are many scenes in which he is mistreated or seriously hurt, which can be hard for some readers to stomach. The upside is that Sebastian has healing abilities, which allows him to recover from injuries that would have killed other thirteen-year-olds.
Overall, The Hybrid is a great introduction to what seems like it is going to be a riveting series. The story is fascinating, and instead of the typical good versus evil tropes, it highlights how there are both good and bad in everyone. This also makes it the type of book where you might find yourself hating some characters because of their actions only to sympathize with them later and vice versa. Fans of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent and similar books will love The Hybrid but be warned as it can become dark and brutal. It should also be mentioned that the book ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more.