“A superhero space opera for grownups.”
That’s right friends, we’re back for another unputdownable sci-fi superhero adventure in Turn 4 of the Hybrid Helix series. Shadow of Hyperion delivers exactly what you’ve come to expect from this series, while also taking some very exciting new twists and turns. Safe to say, Berne has done it again!
As we have come to expect over the course of this series, Rohan’s turbulent past has a way of catching up to him. Though this time around, some aspect of his past life has come back to haunt him in a more literal sense than he could ever have expected, and Rohan’s dreams of just living a quiet and peaceful life are once again crushed before his eyes. What follows is another rollicking and unpredictable adventure, including a trip to Earth (Vegas, baby!), shadow walks into different layers/dimensions, a serious attempt at a love life, and, as you may have guessed from the cover, DINOSAURS!
For the first time in this series, the story doesn’t start with a quirky prologue that shows Rohan in a dire situation near the end of the book. But if you thought that would make the beginning of the story any less gripping, then you better think again.
Berne effortlessly eases you back into the world and wastes no time for the story to kick off, so I was fully hooked again from page one.
As always, I had a blast following Rohan as he once again finds himself neck-deep in all kinds of crazy situations that he’d really rather just avoid. His character voice is just SO strong and I continue to be impressed with his character development. The Rohan in book 4 has a different approach to life than the Rohan we met in book 1, yet he is still his charming and loveable self in all the most important ways. His corny humour and sarcastic attitude simply never fail to crack me up, which makes him such a brilliant protagonist to follow.
The cast of side characters also continues to just absolutely steal the show. I loved meeting new characters and being back with so many familiar faces I’ve come to love, especially some we hadn’t seen for a while. The unlikely yet strong friendships in this series are just wonderfully written and I love that some of these characters can bicker like siblings, while also being able to have very deep and meaningful conversations on life, morality, and mental health.
There’s also a bigger focus on Rohan’s love life in this instalment and I absolutely adore the way that this romance plays out. Two mature adults with their own lives and responsibilities, who are just trying to test the waters to see if they could end up working together. No drama, no angst. I love it.
Now, I will have to admit that there was one new character introduced here who plays a key role in this plot, and for the majority of the story I just didn’t really enjoy their presence. They have a bit of a problem with their memory, which makes them behave like a naive and juvenile 12-year-old for a large part of the story. There were points at which I found them weirdly endearing, but for the most part I just couldn’t help but be slightly frustrated with them.
Rohan also has a lot of conversations with them about what it means to be a hero and tries to warn them of the dire consequences of using their Powers, which felt a bit repetitive to me as we’d already explored those themes and topics in a more meaningful manner in earlier instalments with Rohan himself.
All that said, I was very hooked by the mystery and intrigue surrounding this character’s true nature and I liked their overall character arc by the end, so that mostly made up for a lot of the earlier frustration.
And luckily Berne is just a master at writing engaging and well-balanced stories, so there were still plenty of other aspects for me to enjoy in this book. The pacing of the story works is simply absolutely brilliant, as the the many riveting action scenes are broken up with quiet scenes where we get to see Rohan just spending quality time with his friends or enjoying a delectable evening meal (pro tip, keep snacks on hand because this book will make you hungry).
The world/universe also continues to expand in exciting and mind-boggling ways, and I really love letting myself be surprised by the wild new concepts that keep being introduced. Some of the delivery of the new world building details might feel a bit clunky to more picky readers, with it either being delivered through an explanatory dialogue dump or through Rohan talking to himself as a coping mechanism to keep his nerves in check, but I personally did not mind that at all. I think it fits with this type of story and I personally found all the new reveals to be very thrilling and exciting, so I was eagerly gobbling up all the new information.
Once again, this book wraps up relatively neatly, though this might very well be the most dire state we’ve left Rohan in yet. Needless to say, I am now desperate to see how things will evolve from here and to discover what crazy things Berne has up his sleeve for us next. This series truly feels like a labour of love and I really enjoy how the author wears his influences on his sleeve, while still telling a story that feels wholly original.
If you have enjoyed the series up to this point, then I truly can’t see how you won’t also have a blast with this fourth instalment. And if you have not yet started this series, then I suggest you do yourself a favour and go pick up Wistful Ascending immediately. The Hybrid Helix series is truly one of my favourite comfort series and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you want an action-packed and entertaining superhero space adventure with surprising emotional depth and a whole lot of heart!
Thank you to the author for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This book is scheduled for release on 12 September, 2023.