Title: Never Die
Author: Rob J. Hayes
Published: January 2019
Amount Read: 100%
Rating: 6 out of 10
Blurb: Samurai, shinigami, vengeful spirits, and an impossible quest.
Itami Cho has earned the name Whispering Blade. She is a Shintei warrior, sworn to the path of oaths and honour. But keeping her oaths has always been more difficult than taking them. When Flaming Fist and his bandits attack the city of Kaishi, Itami swears one last oath: she will protect the city and its people at any cost.
Ein has spent his life dreaming of being a hero, and now the God of Death has given him a chance. The Reaper has set him an impossible quest: an eight-year-old boy sent to stop an immortal Emperor.
Thanks for stopping by to check out another review of one of the finalists for SPFBO 5! This weeks marks the last week of the contest and you’re still due three reviews from yours truly. One you’re getting today, the next tomorrow and then the last either Wednesday or Thursday!
Overall, I enjoyed Never Die, but found myself hoping for more. I recognize that I’m an outlier in this, as this has been a book that has been very well reviewed by those I respect and admire, but that’s the beauty of reading, right? Every reader has their own experience. Below is mine.
I was definitely a fan of the magic presented within this story, between Ein’s abilities and how they were so central to the plot to the lore of the shinigami and the yosaki. I definitely wanted more of this, because it was so fascinating to me!
Likewise to the magic, I thought the plot of this was so terribly fascinating: a boy who brings back heroes from the dead to complete the mission he’s been given from a god? Holy wow, talk about such a unique and awesome concept!
This was probably the greatest strength for the book, for me. I caught myself laughing quite a few times as I read. Between our heroes giving nicknames based off the titles they’ve earned for themselves and just their banter in general, the humor was definitely a win for me.
Lack of Worldbuilding
I think a lot of my critiques come from the length and the type of reader I am. I usually read fantasies that are the 500+ variety, so I’m grown to crave lush worldbuilding that is in-depth and thorough. With Never Die, I felt that we were thrown into the world so quickly and so much was packed within 275 pages with a breakneck pace, that I wasn’t able to truly ground myself within the world. I didn’t fully feel immersed in the lore and how the world worked, which made it hard to get fully invested–and I feel made the ending not have that wowing punch it was aiming for.
Lack of Character Development
In the same vein as above, while each character had their own quirks and traits, I felt that I never got to truly know them. We were flying through the plot so quickly, I didn’t get to truly learn who they were and root for them to succeed in their quest–which, again, made the ending feel lackluster, when it could have been something that floored me.
Repetition and Length
It also became kind of predictable, due to the length and the pace, as we were introduced to each new hero and how they came to join in with the gang. The ending, too, after a certain event, made it to where I could guess what was going to happen, if not the how (and definitely not the why, which was revealed in the last few pages).
In sum, I thought Never Die was a novel that had SO MUCH PROMISE, but left me wanting more in most aspects. However, I am very intrigued by Hayes’ writing and still can’t wait to read some of his other works, since I have heard such good things! I rate this book 3 gems out of 5, 3 stars on Goodreads and a 6 out of 10 for the purpose of SPFBO.