Hubris Falls

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
272 Pages
Reviewed on 10/08/2019
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Author Biography

Matthew S. Hiley is a novelist from Fort Worth, Texas. He is happily married to his college sweetheart and a proud father of four children. A terrible musician, a reprehensible fisherman, and a mediocre golfer, Hiley decided to take a break from the business world a few years ago to pursue his lifelong passion of writing. His writing style is sharp, witty, and unafraid.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Hubris Falls is a work of darkly humorous fiction, pathos, and eventual tragedy, and was penned by author Matthew S. Hiley. Filled with explicit language, sexual situations, and drug usage, this is the tale of a group of young men taking one last grab at the wild side of life before they have to settle down and live in the ‘real’ world, as is expected of them. Led by Brian ‘Legs’ Hamilton in the summer of 1997, the setting is a drug-addled rafting trip through the canyons of the Rio Grande River, down by the border of Mexico. Five days becomes an epic, endless nightmare for the group as their wild times turn truly devilish.

One of the things I enjoyed a great deal about author Matthew S. Hiley’s work was how unlikeable Legs and his friends are at the novel’s opening, and how the experiences they undergo actually make you empathize more and more with them as the plot progresses. There’s a wonderful sense of ‘I shouldn’t be laughing at this’ about the dark humor encased in the endless action-packed tragedies of the tale, and what results is a full journey across every facet of human emotion, and a coming of age tale like no other. The narrative focuses hard on interpersonal relations, and it’s in this element that we find the most poignant and genuinely heart-wrenching conclusions as the novel draws closer to its thoughtful perspectives on life and what growing up really means. Do not miss Hubris Falls; a dark tale that shines a light on life itself.

Vincent Dublado

Matthew S. Hiley is spare, profound, and may well be transgressive in this critically-acclaimed road trip novel, Hubris Falls, that runs in a Hunter S. Thompson vein. Brian “Legs” Hamilton is a rebel of his time, along with his friends fitting the same mold. With little regard for rules and authority in their “This is how I roll” attitude, they end up intoxicated after graduation day. Throwing up in places and challenging security personnel, Brian ends up in detention. There, he stumbles upon his fellow delinquents, detained for the same purpose. Their testosterone-infused bravado and predisposition to challenge conventions make them come up with one last road trip adventure as their ultimate rite to adulthood. This trip foreshadows predicaments that will teach them a lesson or two, marking a huge dent in their lives.

This book excels in addressing life lessons without lecturing its audience. Mr. Hiley celebrates youth and friendship, with the early parts of this novel dealing with juvenile behaviors, as if telling us that we have all done foolish things in our youth at some point. Such scenes become identifiable when we reflect upon characters. Even more relatable is the implied direction the novel takes, leading us into the epiphany that we learn from experience. Whether our past experiences broke or strengthened us, we are what we are today because of the choices we made. Mr. Hiley writes in the first person, extensively using the presentiments of his protagonist to color and move the story along. For readers with an appetite for the intriguing, Hubris Falls is a romping delight.

Rabia Tanveer

Hubris Falls by Matthew S. Hiley is a coming of age story that takes readers on a journey of a lifetime. Brian Hamilton wasn’t really ready to start his adult life. After completing his college degree, he and his friends decided to have one last hurrah and spend some time together before starting their adult life. They were ready for some good times, some laughs and some great memories that they would cherish forever. However, what started as an exciting trip turned into a life lesson they had no idea they needed. Through the turbulent roads and journey, Brian stops being a man-child and becomes a man who understands life like he never did before. What happened during the trip? What spiraled out of control that made him and his friends change so much?

This is dark humor that will make you laugh at bizarre situations, but you will not be able to help yourself. Brian and his gang of friends are very eclectic, they are funny yet their humor is so serious at times that I was surprised to found how deep the meaning went. They go on benders, they enjoy their life as an adult does, but when life hits them hard, they have no idea what is happening to them. Their journey is very real, very believable and very relatable. Brian and his friends try to make the best of the situation, but life has a way of teaching lessons in the weirdest of ways possible. I enjoyed how Brian handled the situations; his reactions were funny, sad and very sobering at times. This is a brilliant, entertaining novel, one that will give you a lot to think about after you put it down.

Lex Allen

Hubris Falls is a fast-paced, darkly comic tale of a group of young men on their final, drug-fueled bender before adulthood who are trying to find their way but discover only the harshness and tragedy of life instead. The range of dramatic emotions is fully displayed in a comedic/sarcastic/ironic manner in this coming of age story by Matthew S. Hiley. Narrated by the character Brian "Legs" Hamilton, Hubris Falls is the story of a small group of young men on a white water rafting trip following graduation from college, and before they embark on their working lives. The characters figuratively represent the gamut of political and religious assumptions that are discussed in often-heated debates.

Born and raised in Texas, I was especially drawn deeply into the story as the narrator talks about parties at South Padre Island and other schoolboy activities, albeit three decades before this story takes place. Too often, stories like this fall prey to monotony due to the first person point of view. Hiley does an excellent job of avoiding this flaw by showing much of the action with dialog rather than the banal voice that pure narration (telling) tends to become. The variety of ancestry, familial environments, and beliefs demonstrated by each of the characters creates a microcosm of the American way of life and becomes evident and vital to the underlying message of the story. Yes, there is definitely a message to be found in this highly interesting and exciting story, but I'll let you decide what that message will be for you. I don't often compare authors, but sometimes it simply needs to be said. Mr. Hiley's writing style and topics compare favorably to those of J.D. Salinger and his most famous work, Catcher in the Rye.

Grant Leishman

It’s the end of college and five friends have graduated, albeit only just, but before they head out into the “real world” and their futures, there is time for one last “hurrah!” - one last road trip. They pack their gear and head for a five-day rafting trip down the Rio Grande on the Mexican Border. In Hubris Falls by Matthew S. Hiley, we tag along with this unlikely bunch of friends who are linked mainly by one thing – their love of alcohol and weed. What was supposed to be a final salute to their youth quickly turns into a deep introspection of their lives, their beliefs, and their prejudices. Brian and Jimmy have been close friends since high school. The two friends are an unlikely duo. Jimmy is black and a Democrat. He fervently believes in the redemptive power of faith despite the tragedy that has already struck his young life but he still holds strong beliefs on white dominance and suppression. Brian (Legs), on the other hand, is a child of white privilege, a Republican and simply cannot believe that any loving God would allow such tragedy as exists in the world today. Throw a redneck bigot into the conversation with Williams and you have a ready-made mixture of dark humor, satire, and ultimately tragedy. This will be one final hurrah that none of the participants will ever forget.

Hubris Falls is first and foremost a tragicomedy. The pathos and beauty that are exposed by author Matthew S. Hiley within the same narrative and often within the same sentence is a testament to this writer’s ability and talent, to be able to dig deep and mine the heart of a reader’s emotions. I was entranced by the story and by the amazing relationships between the characters, especially Jimmy and Brian. Their friendship had been built over a number of years, based on trust and understanding of each other’s situations. Yet, there were still questions over how much Brian truly understood Jimmy’s life and difficulties and vice versa. No matter how hard it was to deal with the tragedies in his life, Jimmy kept his faith and his positive outlook on life and people in general.

The author uses the trip to confront many of the untold truths and fears of these five men (and many of us) as they embark on life after college. The humour, given the seriousness of the topics and events on the raft, is a wonderful panacea to the grim reality of their discussions. Good humour in fiction is very hard to produce and Hiley has done a superb job in lightening the topic with his sarcastic and farcical humour. I found myself laughing out loud as I read, a rare occurrence for me. For that alone, this book lifts itself out of the mire of “coming of age” stories. The characterizations of the fearless five were true to life and I’m sure will resound with many readers. An excellent book, a fantastic read, and one I can highly recommend.