Y’all, we’re in the last stretch of January already! It was just New Years last week, so how did this happen?? I’ve been in a flurry of deep cleaning (a daunting project when multiple bookshelves are involved), working on my novel with the awesome writers of the Realm Sphere’s JaNoWriMo group, and reading! Maybe that’s where all the time went . . .
One of those reads was HYBRID, book 2 in the Hybrid Series by Candace Kade. This book doesn’t officially release until March (so close, and yet, so far!) but I had the immense pleasure of reading an early copy! That means I get to tell y’all how absolutely awesome it is (because it is) so that you can be excited about it, too.
If you’re not familiar with the story from the first book, ENHANCED, it’s a Young Adult cyber/biopunk science fiction set in a futuristic world where genetic enhancement has been unlocked, and now people all over the world can be customized before birth to have different abilities and traits. Which takes the concept of chimera to a whole new genre.
The sticky side of this is that it’s expensive, and some folks can’t afford to Enhance their children, resulting in a stark divide between the Enhanced and the Naturals (the OG humans like us plebians). It’s created a societal and political disunity, and some organizations are looking for the next milestone in human development: the code to making genetic enhancement later in life possible. The key to spearheading equality among the people. What they call the Hybrid.
Our main protagonist, Urban, is a Natural that’s been adopted into an Enhanced family living in the ritzy part of town and has had to hide her identity for her entire life. The events of book 1 are a wild ride of navigating personal identity, family, and trust, with high tech, underground motorcycle races, assassination attempts, and the coolest college sport I’ve ever heard of.
Book 2, HYBRID, takes all of that and kicks it up about fifteen notches. Right from the start we see our relatable hero struggling with the relationships in her life: broken heart, animosity from her brother, strained and precarious relations with her parents and extended family. Rocky ground even disrupts the close bond she has with her sister over a risky decision that Urban makes. Feeling like she doesn’t belong in their Enhanced family, she distances herself from all of them to pursue the path she believes is the only way to move forward to finding answers—about the elusive Hybrid, and about her birth parents.
But let’s just say things don’t turn out so great, and a bunch of crazy things ensue (cue life-threatening photo shoots, close calls with giant scorpions, more illegal motorcycle races, and mobs. Ah! Mobs.) Kade weaves a truly action-packed plot with a complex emotional experience and healthy dose of heartache and triumph in turn. And a character redemption that absolutely broke my cool. It really is more of an exciting ride than a good read.
And prevalent throughout the story is this idea of family and the struggles that sometimes come with it. Urban feels outcast from her family, being a Natural among Enhanced—unfit—and wonders if she belongs elsewhere. That maybe she’s more suited to the family that gave her up. I can empathize with that doubt and curiosity, but I kept wanting to tell her that wasn’t true!
“We can’t always choose our family, but we can choose to make the most of the family we have.”HYBRID
Urban’s uncle Cheng has an excellent point here. We aren’t the ones who choose our family, but you know who does? God! The creator of everything in existence and author of every life chooses our family for us and us for our families. And yes, that sometimes means taking us out of blood and grafting us by adoption into other family trees—but is that not a beautiful picture of what he does for us in the family of Christ?
And yes, that doesn’t always mean smooth sailing. Because people, being people, are fundamentally broken. We haven’t been perfect since the Fall, and not one of us will be perfect until Jesus comes. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t working. Because you know what? Scripture is full of broken families, dating all the way back to Adam and Eve, and God chose them anyway and stuck with them. Made promises to them and fulfilled those promises no matter how messed up they got.
We make mistakes, we misunderstand each other at times, and we don’t always like or agree with our families, but community is important to God, and there isn’t a community as intimate as a family. We are made for that bond, and when its broken we lose something precious, something grounding.
In HYBRID, Urban comes to realize how important her family is, even though it isn’t perfect, and questions why she didn’t try harder to mend those broken bonds when she had the chance. Wonders why she pushed them away instead of relying on them when they are the ones who have known her from the beginning.
Yet who could know us even more than our parents and siblings other than God, the one who knit us together in the secret places? (Psalm 139:13-16) Knowing us—I mean fully knowing us—he pursued us, bringing us into his house, giving us a home, a new name and identity that can’t be taken away.
There’s a reason God is called Father, why believers are called his children, why salvation is often espoused with adoption. God created people to live in communion with him, to walk this life in community with him, but then sin came in and broke that connection with pride, selfishness, fear, and doubt.
But God, in his great, incomprehensible love for us, made a way to bridge that brokenness. Through Christ, the Son and our salvation, we can be adopted into the eternal family of heaven, and once you’re a child of God, absolutely nothing can change that. What God has called his own, no power or circumstance or choice we make will undo it.
The only take-backs God does is when he takes us back from the darkness and isolation of separation from him. He won’t change his mind about you.
Urban didn’t choose her family, but she was adopted out of darkness into a community of people who are as genuine, quirky, and unique as she is, and though she doesn’t share blood with them, there is a bond that no hurt feelings and misunderstandings can sever completely. When she’s in trouble, beyond all reason she could fathom, they’re there. And you know what happens? A broken relationship is restored, not because of individual merit, but because of communication through that familial bond. They addressed the hard things and came out the other side stronger.
It can be the same way for us, too, in our Earthly families and in the Church. God put as where we are and with the people we have for a reason, and sometimes things aren’t great, for whatever reasons, but we can always choose to pursue peace. Always try for restoration. We’re all different and we might not always get along, but there’s a bond that nothing of this world can break—especially in God’s family. There’s a foundation and a safe place we can have with one another where we can address the hard things and come out the other side stronger, too.