East-asian inspired fantasy
[Review] Never Die by Rob J. Hayes
September 21, 2020
The story in Never Die follows a mysterious young boy who revives fallen heroes in order to bind them to his quest. Each of the heroes is unique, fun, and well-written in their own way. There is an oath-bound swords-woman, a self-serving rogue, a jolly strongman, a leper, and an unbeatable hand-to-hand fighter. The plot of the young boy collecting his crew of heroes takes up about 80% of the story, which is why I think this could have been even better as a novella—tighten it up and cut some of the collection storyline.
The worldbuilding was wonderful. An East-asian inspired country, brutal fights that feature unique weapons and qi-based magical abilities, and spirits and demons of myth playing a prominent role throughout it all. I loved the imagery of the different locations (especially the bamboo forest).
The prose is straightforward, with some quotable "wisdom" sprinkled in throughout the book. That said, there were a lot of editing mistakes: spelling errors, grammar issues, words missing or misplaced, etc. That said, I read enough self-published books that it didn't bug me.
Lastly—I won't go into too many details—but the ending was really strong. There are several twists that all pile up in the last 10-15 pages, and they are great. I called a few of them, but I still love a good twist in the end.
Overall, a strong 4/5 stars, that could have been bumped up with some tighter plotting in the first half and better editing. Still, super enjoyable and wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone!