When Vanessa Wester decided to start writing she found an outlet for her imagination. It is the best way she can think of to express herself and escape from everyday life.
She has a lot of eggs in her basket since she is a qualified Secondary School Mathematics Teacher, ASA Swimming Teacher, has a degree in Accounting & Law, has been a competitive swimmer and enjoys art, singing and drama. In addition, she is bilingual in English and Spanish, and speaks some Dutch, since she was born and raised in Gibraltar and has lived in Rotterdam.
However, since her son was born, she has been a stay at home mum who gives up a lot of her time towards voluntary organisations.
J. B. Garner
on Oct. 15, 2014 :
This week’s main course is Hybrid, the first book in a paranormal romance series, The Evolution Trilogy. What you say? The guy who writes superhero and wrestling fiction picking up a romance book? To that I say, ‘Broaden your minds! The Tale of the Tape had a huge romance sub-plot! Plus I was starving!’. As per my standards, I will do my best to make this review as spoiler-free as possible and to see this in the light of a fan of the genre in question.
Let’s start off by saying this: On a technical level, the writing is quite good. The pacing, character development, and depth of story are well ahead of many of Hybrid‘s brothers and sisters in the paranormal romance genre. On a personal relationship level, there are fewer contrivances and those that do come up fit into the well-worn tropes of the romance genre … in other words, they are things that the readers will want to see. The inevitable romantic entanglements and love dodecahedrons fit together much more naturally than most books of this kind.
In fact, talking about the genre tropes, at first blush, Hybrid seems to be a standard, if better written, book of the type, very paint-by-numbers. However, at about the quarter way mark, Ms. Wester eschews the paint brush and brings in an industrial car painting robot, setting it on ‘CRAZY’ mode. That may sound bad. It’s not. In fact, it’s almost glorious in the insanity it reaps!
You see, Hybrid goes off the rails now in the sense of the personal relationships and characterizations, which remain solid, but in a very Silver Age comic book/1950s atomic horror kind of way. As the paranormal species that is core to the book is introduced and explained, the book takes glee as it smashes basic conventions and sets up the world these beings live in and how they operate. I can’t really go into details without major spoilers, but simply let me say that I, as a comic book fan, really loved the general crazy involved. It is a good kind of crazy and one that, for a genre that generally has more angst that sense, delights in that as much as the interpersonal conflicts.
Another point where Hybrid bucks the usual paranormal romance formula is in the rather expansive range of characters and points of view it dances over, adding to the narrative depth. Add on to that the fact that the main PoV character for large sections of the book is the male lead and you get another turn off the over-trod path of the first person, female lead formula. Refreshing.
Now, Hybrid isn’t without flaws. Sometimes the over-the-top elements become too much even for a lover of such things to take seriously. One incident in particular involving a mass mental manipulation (that should be vague enough to dodge the Spoiler Police) really made me pause and the later explanation of it did nothing to make it better. There is little action, which while not a requirement in this genre can add to it, and the overall dramatic and romantic tension is uneven at times. There is a fair amount of world-building that goes on in this book and, while Wester does a fairly good job at weaving it in with the actual story, there is a bit on info-dumping and a few cringe-worthy scenes of ‘As You Know‘ exposition. Final flaw: the sudden climax and twist to set up the next book comes out of nowhere at the last minute, though the epilogue sweeps in and salvages part of it with a clever bit of follow-up on foreshadowing early in the book.
Let’s bring it all together then.
Hybrid is a solid paranormal romance and a good start for it’s series of books. There are some intriguing surprises and Vanessa Wester wisely is not afraid to blaze off of the over-used pathways other writers in this genre have tread, bringing about a gleeful insanity to the whole thing. It’s not perfect, but it stands above the majority of this genre that I’ve read. If you enjoy this genre, definitely give this a read. If you don’t, you may still want to give it a shot. The first book is free, after all.
FINAL VERDICT: **** (Vanilla on the outside, crazy mix of flavors on the inside)
(review of free book)
My Book Fairy
on June 28, 2014 :
This is a story that could be considered a paranormal romance, but it’s so much more than that. The story starts out with a young woman, Caitlin, headed to college and introduces you to her and her four “roommates”, getting right into the feel of starting out in a new place in college and the different types of people you will meet. I immediately liked Caitlin and could understand her situation and the feelings she had of being in a new place, both excitement and intimidation. A new place, new people and an unsure environment and the last thing she’s worried about is a boyfriend or falling in love, even though it seems that people are looking all around and yet she bumps into Steven, a “tall, dark, handsome and athletic” guy you expect to be another womanizer and yet he’s not. Steven is a complex character and he’s sincerely intrigued by Caitlin. You spend the first half or so of the story learning about Caitlin and Steven and watching their relationship develop. Then there is an unexpected turn of events, which sets the baseline for the remainder of the story. You see Steven taken away from everyone he knows and everyone he loves, no one knows who he is, or that he exists. You come to learn about the next evolution in humankind and their trials and tribulations, their wants and needs and the story leaves you wanting for more. All of the main and supporting characters are well built with complex personalities which brings the story to life. You can feel the pain they feel and understand their feelings from excitement, fear, love and lust to sorrow and uncertainty about the future. I couldn't put this book down and read from the start to about 63% in before I stopped and by the time I was about 80% done I knew I’d be buying the remaining two in the trilogy.
I gave this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars because aside from a single sentence which didn't seem grammatically correct, the story was nearly flawless. The characters and story had me enchanted from day one and the plot unfolded at just the right pace. This isn't your typical paranormal or vampire story, but it will keep you on your toes and isn't full of “fluff”, but has a lot of deeper issues going on in the sidelines along with the main plot. When I found out this was the authors debut novel I couldn't believe it. I can’t wait to see what else Vanessa writes in the remainder of this trilogy and beyond. I've already borrowed the trilogy on the Kindle so I can decide if I want to buy them all in the Kindle edition or in a physical book.
(review of free book)
on May 12, 2014 :
The book is a very interesting and unique take on the vampire story genre. I enjoyed the read, and I'm looking forward to reading subsequent books in the series. I found the characters' actions to be logical within their individual mindsets, and that added to my enjoyment of reading the book.
(review of free book)
on Feb. 09, 2014 :
Stories about paranormals are not my usual read but I was intrigued by the title. Indeed I found the concept of a "hybrid" original. I enjoyed the different take on how the people in the story became vampires and what abilities that gave them. The suggestion that they might contribute to an evolution of a different species was thought provoking. I am curious to see where the author takes the notion of a human/vampire "hybrid."
(review of free book)
on March 30, 2013 :
This was a different take on the usual vampire story, completely unlike any others Ive read. I'd highly recommend it, I was totally absorbed in the story and the well thought out back story of the evolution of the vampires. A brilliant debut and I cant wait to read the next installment
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)
S. A. Williams
on March 07, 2013 :
Initially I was attracted to 'Hybrid' after reading a great, shorter piece by the same author--so I decided to give this a go. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.
The plot of this book revolves around a 19 year old University student (Steven) who embarks on the typical adjustment to university life (takes classes, occasionally oversleeps, makes friends, meets a girl, etc.). But Steven is going through a very atypical transition as well (at first unknowingly), and this other transition (along with the intersections between the normal and abnormal) is truly the heart of the story.
I liked this book because the plot was engaging and it kept me reading. (In truth, I had a hard time putting it down because I was so invested in the characters and the outcome.) Beyond that, Wester has taken an interesting and pleasantly surprising angle on what would otherwise be a tired plot device (think vampires, though strictly speaking it's a bit more than that). And before you count this book out due to the genre, I will note that the plot is far more engaging than some other recent works in the same vein (pun certainly intended), and in my view better written.
It's not a perfect novel to be sure. At times Wester's prose and dialogue come across a bit clunky (and with dialogue specifically: at times it was overly formal). The book could also use another round of editing to eliminate the remaining typographical and grammatical problems. But that said, none of these minor drawbacks stopped me from reading or really pulled me far enough out of the story to be bothered--and the quality of the writing, overall, more than made up for them.
In summary, this was a pleasant read and I'm hooked. I definitely recommend it and will, without a doubt, be reading the next book in the series.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
on May 22, 2012 :
Really enjoyed this book - actually I could not put it down. I would recommend this book highly. Cannot wait for the next book.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)
on May 11, 2012 :
This is a very exciting read. Would appeal to the Twilight fan-base, but has definitely put it's own twist on the genre. A very well constructed piece, all the more impressive for being a debut novel. I admired the language and story-telling craft. The second half of the book in particular flowed really well, and it got to a point where I didn't want to put it down. Many congratulations to this exciting new author - I look forward to reading what happens next, both with the saga itself and also with the author's writing journey. 5 stars!
(reviewed 44 days after purchase)
on April 20, 2012 :
Loved it! I couldn't put it down. I am so looking forward to the next book.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on April 09, 2012 :
Fantastic! Not my usual genre but has whet my appetite and I will be tyring a few other paranormal books in the furute. Already looking forward to book 2!
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)