Review: Never Die by Rob J. Hayes - 9/10*
To people that don’t read much self-published fiction, Rob J. Hayes is here to prove exactly why you should!
This is a great price of fantasy writing. It reminds me of mortal combat, as the characters duel to prove who is the best warrior. And they are quite a memorable cast, pulled together to serve the whims of an undead boy. Cho, the Whispering Blade, is as quiet as she is deadly. Zhihao Cheng, the Emerald Wind, can project images of himself and sneak up behind his opponent to deadly effect. Iron Gut Chem has impenetrable skin, Ghost Echo is a fiercely accurate leprosy riddled sniper and Bingwei Ma is a master of unarmed combat. They are a motley band, but they are all great heroes forced to fight for a cause not their own.
As such, the characters really drove this story forward. It’s Asian inspired and captures a warrior culture based on honour and reputation against a backdrop of feuding warlords. And because of how much reputation these five have, they have been bound together to fight for the little boy’s desires. He wants to see the Emperor dead, and they must oblige. He has brought them all back from the dead with necromantic magic, and if they stray away from him, they will perish. The price of freedom, a new life, must be bought with the blood he desires. It’s quite an interestingly awkward dynamic, legendary heroes being ordered around by an eight-year-old undead boy.
There are many funny moments as characters that clearly don’t belong together in the same band, clash and bang heads together. At one point, I thought a big fight would irrupt and they’d all just kill each other (again.) But somehow, yes somehow, they manage to crush their differences and work together. And it’s quite compelling. They all have completely different motives, values and outlooks on life, but they were able to come together to get the job done. And considering how volatile a few of them are, that’s a real achievement. It was hilarious at times, but it was also very tense with a plot that explodes into a dramatic conclusion that delivers everything it promises.
I would even go as far as to say that the book had a certain cinematic quality to it. I would genuinely love to watch an anime movie about these characters and this plot; it would be fantastic because it’s such a slick piece of writing, with katanas flying everywhere and monsters making things difficult. It would work so well on the screen. The cover really captures the feel of it all. It’s a real strong piece of awesomeness that will appeal directly to your inner geek. There’s some brilliantly described combat scenes and the action is constant. There’s never a dull moment. The story was immediate and engaging, I read it in one sitting. Real good stuff, I can’t fault it whatsoever.
So, I really do recommend this one; it’s quite a quick read but it’s lots of fun!
Many thanks to the author for sending me an ARC. Never Die is out on January 29th and can be pre-ordered from amazon here.