Review: Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

Rating: ★★★★☆+

Synopsis

Ein is on a mission from God. A God of Death.

Time is up for the Emperor of Ten Kings and it falls to a murdered eight year old boy to render the judgement of a God. Ein knows he can’t do it alone, but the empire is rife with heroes. The only problem; in order to serve, they must first die.

Ein has four legendary heroes in mind, names from story books read to him by his father. Now he must find them and kill them, so he can bring them back to fight the Reaper’s war.

Review

Thanks to the author for an advance reading copy of Never Die in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

So, I am a bad blogger for this one, you guys. Rob sent me an advance reading copy probably 9 months ago and I just got around to it at the beginning of July. On top of that, this review has been sitting in my draft box since July 12th (prior to vacation, amidst upcoming releases, etc). Literally, this has nothing to do with the author or his novels; it all boils down to timing and busyness.

2019 has been an insane year as far as reading/reviewing goes, and I am now up to 95 novels on the year. To show the bar, I read 89 in the entirety of 2018…. I still have 4 1/2 months to go and I am not slowing down any time soon.

Alright, now to the whole reason why you clicked on this page. My review.

Well, since I waited so long, Rob had the opportunity to release Never Die on audio so I picked it up on the cheap thanks to Whispersync. I thought Kim Bretton did a wonderful job with the narration and would recommend it to anyone who wants to give this novel a shot (and enjoys audiobooks, of course).

Hayes uses Chinese Wuxia and Japanese mythology as an inspiration for Never Die and it shows throughout with extensive use of folklore and traditional martial arts, on top of very vivid world-building with a distinct Asian flavor. With this, he has written a very original tale of vengeance and redemption that I have yet to see before. I mean, tell me another book where someone has to die in order to serve (and don’t give me anything with necromancers because that is a totally different conversation). The fact that these warriors, legends in their own rights, are forced to toe a line by an eight year old child in order to fight in a war; who thinks up this kind of stuff?

This book feels sort of like Bruce Lee meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a little bit of Monster Hunter. There are “levels” to the storyline that include fierce battles with legendary warriors and large scale assaults by supernatural demons called “yokai” that continually ramp up the intensity, leading to a consistently thrilling, edge of your seat read. I also have to give props to Hayes for his characters. Each is fully fleshed out not only in their present story, but with tales of their heroics and bravery in battle. It is a book that needs to be slowly ingested rather than devoured.

Never Die shows exactly why you cannot sleep on self-publishing. While anyone can put words to a page, call themselves an author, and upload a book to Amazon, Hayes is here to show that there are non-traditionally published books that deserve the same amount of attention as the GRRMs and Pierce Browns of the world. If you enjoy Asian-inspired fantasy, heck, if you enjoy fantasy at all, Never Die should be at the top of your wish list.

5 thoughts on “Review: Never Die by Rob J. Hayes

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