Book Reviews

Hyperbia

Epic fantasy gets turned on its head and slapped with a wet fish. Elves are snobby brunch enthusiasts, ogres are pacifistic yoga buffs, and the "hero" is a mild-mannered misfit who prefers strudels to swords. Welcome to Hyperbia. Tubbart Schepps is a generally nice guy. Thus concludes his positive traits. The tragically named, socially inept, morbidly rotund dreamer gets through life on the comfort of food and imagination. One day, after a mortally embarrassing workplace mishap, Tubbart stumbles as far away as he can get. Which is the nearest bus stop. There, he is unwittingly spirited to the fantastical realm of Hyperbia, where magic larks and absurdity stumbles after. A noble elf prince takes Tubbart under his quiver, and the days are equal parts joyous and bizarre. But not all is sunshine and elfwine. An evil fairy bent on revenge is freshly risen, and seeks nothing less than utter annihilation of the realm.

If you have read Hyperbia’s blurb (which, as always, is included at the top of the review for your convenience), you would see that it features an overweight protagonist by the name of “Tubbart.” Get it? He’s named Tubbart because he’s tubby. That is a solid indication of the humour utilised in K. Remington’s Hyperbia. Depending on how you find that humour could go a long way to indicating how much you enjoy the book.

Hyperbia tells the story of Tubbart, an overweight fantasy fan with very little happening in the real world. This all changes when he finds himself aboard Bus 307—this bus is perhaps my favourite character; it is a delight throughout—accompanied by an imp, before finding himself spirited away to an epic fantasy world, the titular Hyberbia, a world replete with elves, imps, fairies, ogres, smiling clouds and talking trees (although, these trees are less honourable than the ones you would normally find in epic fantasy fiction).

At its best, Hyperbia feels like a blend of Douglas Adams, with the wit and sparkle he brings to his world and humour, and Matt Groening with his wit and scatalogical humour he brings to his shows. But, if the big smiling cloud on the book’s cover doesn’t give it away, this blend also comes with a lot more F-bombs and a lot more sex jokes. Which is well and good, however, it is not as suitable for younger readers as the cover would suggest, and some readers may take issue with these jokes and language. I’m not one of these readers, and largely appreciated much of this.

While I don’t take issue with the adult humour, I do take issue, however, with the humour centred around Tubbart. The humour about an overweight fantasy fan felt like low-hanging fruit, with much of this feeling unkind and, at times, fatphobic, to the point where it includes a scene of him passing out in a similar fashion to diabetic shock, because he hasn’t eaten a Pop Tart in over 24 hours. The tone throughout is mocking of fantasy fans, and feels similar to late 90s/early 2000s humour around geeks, or fans of any fandom. This is an interesting choice given Hyperbia is an (let’s not forget, comedic) epic fantasy, and presumably, a large part of the target readership for this book is fantasy fans.

Of course, it is possible to write a comedic story that has fun with the target audience; however, Hyperbia doesn’t feel like it is aiming to do so in an affectionate way. However, this could be—and very possibly is—my take on the humour and characterisation, and may indeed not be what the author had intended. For all the humour at Tubbart’s expense, as the book moves towards its conclusion, Remington spends a bit of time with Tubbart’s inferiority complex and not only helps the character grow, but brings some real heart to his story. I also feel, unfortunately, that the book’s conclusion sold out a lot of the ongoing heart of Tubbart’s narrative, and am not sure if it was deliberately written the way it was because the protagonist is fickle.

Aside from the book’s treatment of Tubbart, though, the humour does come through well, and Hyperbia had me laughing out loud on a couple of occasions. As a fantasy world, Hyperbia is a great setting, and it features some truly wonderful characters. These characters fit Hyperbia’s comedic sensibility while feeling like characters in their own right, who would also work in a more serious story.

At 310 pages in paperback (at the time of writing, the book has not been released, and there is no Amazon listing, so I can’t provide an estimated eBook swipes), Hyperbia feels a little overlong. While it is definitely shorter than your average high fantasy tale, it spends too much time on world building, rather than focusing on the plot. The result of this is that it wasn’t until I was about halfway through until the story got moving and I could feel it progressing. What came before was largely entertaining and generally quite funny, but it resulted in something that was very slow moving.

The prose throughout Hyperbia is well-written throughout, and Remington’s voice shines brightly. This is a great asset that helps sell the humour throughout, with some great passages that build brilliantly towards a punchline, while others hit the reader with joke after joke. Likewise, the dialogue works well, bringing the characters to life. This book is well-edited, and the proofreading has been handled brilliantly, ensuring the end result is free of errors, or unwieldy phrases.

I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Hyperbia, as I found the book to be too long for the story it was telling, thanks to a slow paced first half. I also found the humour surrounding Tubbart to be quite unfortunate, though depending on your sense of humour, your mileage will vary on this. Most of the humour throughout Hyperbia shines brightly, however; it’s a shame that so much of it was focused on the fact its protagonist is overweight.

Favourite Passage

307 plunged on into the distance, taking note of the various oddities it passed. Up above, clouds appeared to smile in stupid, wide-eyed delight. Below, two flowers locked petals amorously, then pulled back in shame as 307 drove by. A distant hill opened a boulderous eye and winked. A tiny creature that looked half frog, half chinchilla hopped onto the windshield, then yelled something obscene about 307’s mother before jettisoning off. The bus honked in jovial repartee.

Hyperbia, Chapter Nine

Hyperbia was provided by BookSirens for the purpose of an honest review.

Hyperbia will be available from the US spring (March to May) 2022. At the time of publishing this review, I do not have a final date, nor know whether it will be available outside of Amazon.

You can follow K. Remington online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

  • Amazon – Review to be published upon the book’s availability
  • Goodreads

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