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One Word Kill

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In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of the In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now. He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics. Challenge accepted.


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In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of the In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now. He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics. Challenge accepted.

30 review for One Word Kill

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lawrence

    One Word Kill is the Kindle daily deal on Amazon UK today - so Brits, pick up a copy for £0.99! I got an email from Mr George RR Martin this morning to let me know that he'd read One Word Kill and "enjoyed the hell out of it". #AchievementUnlocked The One Word Kill signed and numbered special edition hardback is available for pre-order from Anderida Books. https://www.anderidabooks.co.uk/produ...- Any of you who've looked for a Red Sister hardback recently will know this has the potential to be a One Word Kill is the Kindle daily deal on Amazon UK today - so Brits, pick up a copy for £0.99! I got an email from Mr George RR Martin this morning to let me know that he'd read One Word Kill and "enjoyed the hell out of it". #AchievementUnlocked The One Word Kill signed and numbered special edition hardback is available for pre-order from Anderida Books. https://www.anderidabooks.co.uk/produ...- Any of you who've looked for a Red Sister hardback recently will know this has the potential to be a sound investment and not just a lovely object! Hurry, before they go. My first science fiction book! The whole trilogy released during 2019. Read about it on ThatThornGuy.com https://thatthornguy.com/2018/06/10/o... .....

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin Hobb

    I've giving One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence six stars. Oh. You think I can't do that? Well, yes, I can. Even if you don't see them up there. Because while a five start book is a good solid read, one that I truly enjoy, there are some books and stories that are more than that. They are the stories that stay with you for a lifetime. My six star stories are likely different from yours. A story gets six stars when it doesn't waste a word. It opens the door, I enter the tale, and for that time, I'm in I've giving One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence six stars. Oh. You think I can't do that? Well, yes, I can. Even if you don't see them up there. Because while a five start book is a good solid read, one that I truly enjoy, there are some books and stories that are more than that. They are the stories that stay with you for a lifetime. My six star stories are likely different from yours. A story gets six stars when it doesn't waste a word. It opens the door, I enter the tale, and for that time, I'm in that world. It's a story that works perfectly for me. Other examples of my six star stories would be Smith of Wooton Major by J R R Tolkien. Or the Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov. These stories have nothing in common, except that they worked perfectly for me. Anyone who has read my books may have guessed that I have a few things that utterly fascinate me. The information we carry in our blood. The nature of memory. The possibility of myriad futures. The absolute wonder of suddenly seeing the world from a different perspective. The stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. Now it would be a spoiler if I told you which of those fascinations One Word Kill dances with. But I will say that it treads the measure perfectly. It's not a very long book, especially by today's standards. But it's the perfect length for the tale it tells. Buy it. Read it. The usual Caveat. Mark Lawrence is someone I know as a fellow writer and consider a long distance friend, even though we've never met face to face. I got this story from him for free. I also have to admit that it took me awhile to figure out how to get the file to open on my phone, and then I misplaced it on my phone for several months and didn't even read it until he asked me if I'd liked it, and reminded me that I'd told him I'd managed to put it on my phone. The wonders of modern technology! I don't particularly enjoy reading things on a tiny screen. But a serendipitous 14 hour power failure left me with my (luckily) fully charged phone as my only toy. I started reading, grumbling over how small the font was, and soon forgot entirely about that as I was pulled into the world and the tale. So. My usual spoiler free review. Go find it and read it. I think you'll love it. I now need to get several real copies of this book, because I know people who will love receiving them from me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chaima ✨ شيماء

    When you are SAD go to the BOOKSTORE and purchase this BOOK which is a fast and fun read about time travel, quantum mechanics, Dungeons & Dragons and planning a heist with your best friends because a sketchy and secretive man from the future essentially told you so... Full disclosure though: the ending is a heartbreaker.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I snagged this book so fast when it was on the Kindle First list! I mean the wonderful Mark Lawrence was kind enough to offer me a chance to read it awhile back but I don’t do pdf or mobi downloads. 😫 Anyhoo! I loved this book and it’s set in the freaking 80’s! I mean, I was born in the 70’s but the 80’s and 90’s rocked! Well, mostly...... I don’t usually like time travel books but there are a few that I love and this is one of them. Demus explained that when you come back through time you come b I snagged this book so fast when it was on the Kindle First list! I mean the wonderful Mark Lawrence was kind enough to offer me a chance to read it awhile back but I don’t do pdf or mobi downloads. 😫 Anyhoo! I loved this book and it’s set in the freaking 80’s! I mean, I was born in the 70’s but the 80’s and 90’s rocked! Well, mostly...... I don’t usually like time travel books but there are a few that I love and this is one of them. Demus explained that when you come back through time you come back just as James Cameron predicted in Terminator. Buck naked. One Word Kill is about a bunch of cool friends that sit around playing D & D <—- I never had those kind of cool friends to play that with! Sigh... Moving on... One of the characters has cancer and it did make me cringe a bit as I still have some PTSD from my own cancer treatment. But I digress. There is someone that comes from the future to help save the life of one of the kids. You think it’s the cancer patient don’t you 😉 This great group of kids go through some things, good and bad, and it’s just awesome! I’m ready for the next one! Where is it? Good ole Mr. Lawrence can slap down another short book, ami right?! Or a long one, I will read it either way!! Overall, a great little sci-fi book! Happy Reading! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    Happy birthday and welcome to the ruthless world, little book ✨ :) One Word Kill is now out there on shelves! Or on tables getting used as a coaster for the overflowing coffee mugs...though I prefer hot dark-chocolate ☕ Just a friendly advice: Don't use it to kill flies, it's a little small, tiny, and short for that. You might find the flies are suddenly invincible 😁 999 STARS! I count it a shortcoming of Goodreads that there aren't enough stars available. “We might live in a multiverse of infinit Happy birthday and welcome to the ruthless world, little book ✨ :) One Word Kill is now out there on shelves! Or on tables getting used as a coaster for the overflowing coffee mugs...though I prefer hot dark-chocolate ☕ Just a friendly advice: Don't use it to kill flies, it's a little small, tiny, and short for that. You might find the flies are suddenly invincible 😁 999 STARS! I count it a shortcoming of Goodreads that there aren't enough stars available. “We might live in a multiverse of infinite wonder, but we are what we are, and can only care about what falls into our own orbit.” The paradox of this book hooked me so bad I spent a great deal of time just staring at a blank page thinking, where to start from? There are so many platinum points in One Word Kill that I was left trapped in a loop, with so much to say and not enough words. This book was simultaneously mind-blowing, level one sci-fi, beautiful, and heartbreaking. “Basically, we’re all infinite.” In truth, Mark Lawrence and Sci-Fi are one of those old couples that just belong together. Seriously. From his fantasy world of Broken Empire I knew I the world needed a sci-fi book from him! I was sucked into the time loop and time traveling paradox, fell in love with the characters' friendships, cheered them on when they came out, adored them when they supported eachother, and grieved their losses. All of us have a shell, a skin between us and the world that we have to break each time we speak to it. Sometimes I wished mine were thinner. What I need is a Lawrence book with a Martinian page count—it's impressive what a bewitching tale he can weave in these few pages. And I'm always left needing more (why I binge read his other series like an addict, mind you. Yes, I'm an ML addict. There you have it) “Of all the worlds, in all the universes, he walks into mine.” P.S. Talk about making a famous quote better...the original Casablanca quote was, of course: Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. But I know that Mark Lawrence's version will probably be my new favourite quote, and one that will be sitting in my brain for a long time, at the front row—I should probably go build a cottage for it so it's comfortable there :| I realised that just as the disease was starting to take me away from the world, I was for the first time, in a short and self-absorbed kind of life, starting to really see it for what it was. The beauty and the silliness, and how one piece fitted with the next, and how we all dance around each other in a kind of terror, too petrified of stepping on each other’s toes to understand that we are at least for a brief time getting to dance and should be enjoying the hell out of it. Storyline You hold the twenty-sided die. Weigh it. Seventeen, you think, it'll roll seventeen. Four pairs of eyes are glued to your hand, fingers playing with the nearly ball-shaped object. You throw it. It's in the air. Seventeen, it has to be seventeen. If it rolls seventeen, you survive. Any other chance...you die. Let it be seventeen. The die hits the ground. It's rolled seventeen. But you die anyway. “That sounds a lot like cheating...like cheating the universe!” In London, January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he has cancer. He's dying, and it's not even the strangest thing to happen to him that week. Because there's a stranger stranger following him. Knowing things he shouldn't. We were all of us consumed by our own imagination, victims of it, haunted by impossibles, set alight by our own visions, and by other people’s. We weren’t the flamboyant artsy creatives, the darlings who would walk the boards beneath the hot eye of the spotlight, or dance, or paint, or even write novels. We were a tribe who had always felt as if we were locked into box that we couldn’t see. And when D&D came along, suddenly we saw both the box and the key. Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. We just had to swallow the madness. “Right, so you’re going to go all James Bond, and steal the microchip from a high security Tokyo laboratory?” I laughed out loud. It was almost less feasible than time travel. With a time traveler whispering in his ears, he finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics. What else was there to do? I’d been presented with a mystery. I could focus on that, or I could worry about leukaemia chewing its way through the marrow of my bones. No contest really. Nobody escapes that building without sacrifice, and often the sacrifice is greater than the benefit they sought. You speak one word and point at someone. They die. Then the scroll turns to dust. Science of the Fiction I've been obsessed with quantum mechanics and its implications since I was 14—I'd abandon my school lessons in favour of reading books and articles about it and trying to understand them step by step (the teachers were no help, I guarantee you). After about two years of that routine, I was seriously told off by my parents and teachers to focus on school and postpone those extra readings to when I'd entered university. Anyways, I'm entering university this September (of 2019) and am gradually going back to deciphering texts of quantum mechanics. And this book was exactly what I needed to get in the mood :) “Time is just a variable. We make now. Consciousness makes now. We live it and we can, with sufficient energy, move it about.” One Word Kill focuses on the Many Worlds Interpretation. The author puts the science of the science fiction into words very easily and you shouldn't be worried. Anything you need to know is in the book, but I'm gonna tell you a little more about it (in simple words)—it's not necessary to read this but it's fascinating. I'll put in spoiler tags even though it's not a spoiler: (view spoiler)[ Some quantum physicists believe that time results from two quantum particles (elementary particles) being “entangled” with each other. Like when we observe a particle, we are being entangled with it and so time emerges as a result of our interaction. But other physicists believe that there is no difference in a particle before and after it'is observed. There's simply different possibilities to how the particles entangle, and all the possibilities exist in parallel universes.—the Many Worlds Interpretation. Now in trying to unfiy these implications of time in quantum mechanics with that of general relativity, time ended up disappearing from equations, suggesting that time does not exist at all. (hide spoiler)] “If it’s true...what he says...” “It makes you wonder what you can be sure of anymore. If anything is certain. What really matters.” The gist of it: the idea of Many Worlds Interpretation is that when you roll a six-sided dice, your reality branches and all the six possibilities happen. In one reality the dice rolls one, in another two, and so on. And time, as a result of quantum mechanics, shows itself to be nonexistent and an illusion. So it is no longer an arrow that goes only forward and can't be moved about. “The equations that govern the universe don’t care about ‘now’. You can ask them questions about this time or that time, but nowhere in the elegance of their mathematics is there any such thing as ‘now’. The idea of one specific moment, one universal ‘now’ racing along at sixty minutes an hour, slicing through the seconds, spitting the past out behind it and throwing itself into the future...that’s just an artefact of consciousness, something entirely of our own making that the cosmos has no use for.” Storytelling A creature made of failures, of old cruelties, of stillborn children, missed chances, soured wounds. It spoke a language of pain, sewn from torture chamber screams and widows’ weeping for lost lovers. Mark Lawrence is a master storyteller, a weaver of tales, the man who I'd huddle around the fire in the coldest of nights to listen to, until dawn breaks and the blessed darkness flees. He can make you feel a thousand things after another, he can make you care with one sentence and break you with one word—one word kill indeed. “I mean, it’s not awful or anything. I guess I just expected more from tobacco than it had to give... There’s a lesson somewhere in there for you.” And never forget his wit or hilarious writing! I would laugh and laugh until the occupants of the house and even the neighbours considered taking me to a mental asylum. He'd also sneak little lessons of friendship and living into his story, and he'd raise tropes to break them apart, tear them into pieces: “They’ll talk about this as ‘saving Mia’.” He shrugged. “Let them. But you, you need to remember this: she saves you. In the end, she saves you. You’re not rescuing a damsel in distress here. You’re returning a favour in advance.” Cancer & Pain The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that cancer is a noun and advises on pronunciation before declaring it a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells within the body. Put like that it doesn’t sound too scary. Then it spoils the effect by noting the Greek root, karkinos, crab, said to have arisen from the swollen veins radiating from tumours that gave the impression of the many limbs of a crab. At least they didn’t name it after spiders. If I was going to be eaten alive, and I in no way wished to be, let it be by a crab rather than a spider. Now, this isn't a cancer book. Yes the MC has cancer. Yes we spend 4 or 5 scenes in the hospital. Yes, we read his fears hopes and acceptance. But this has a different outlook on it—and a perfect one. Mark Lawrence beautifully captures the essence of disease and how it might affect our view of life. Yes, he gets the truth of cancer raw on the page (my very dear grandfather who I love with all my heart has cancer, and we've been with him every step of the way, so I say that with certainty) but his words will hit you whatever type of pain you've seen or experienced. That, of course, does not surprise me. As a dedicated and loving father with a disabled daughter, I'm sure Mr. Lawrence understands pain deeply, and I wish for nothing more than steadfast strength, patience, contentment and a loving life for both him and his precious girl Celyn :) In hospital they ask you to rate your discomfort on a scale of ten. I guess it’s the best they can come up with, but it fails to capture the nature of the beast. Pain can stay the same while you change around it. And like a thumb of constant size, what it blocks out depends on how close it gets to you. At arm’s length a thumb obscures a small fragment of the day. Held close enough to your eye, and it can blind you to everything that matters, relegating the world to a periphery. Characterization Meet the 5 main aka the gang ⤵ Nick: aka the smart kid; has a deceased relatively famous mathematician father—or as famous as any mathematician not named Einstein can get—who died of cancer died with cancer but of being crushed by a train. Not pleasant, you might say, but he at least got “cured” of his cancer *shrugs*. With him, Mark Lawrence perfectly captures the feeling of invincibility in the young (myself included). He's a genius who tries not to declare that he's a genius. Is also scared of dancing. In general, I found other people to be a far greater mystery than, say, integral calculus, which my friends at school assured me was supposed to be difficult. Mia: aka the cool kid; has escaped a church school pursued by nuns, got a brother in jail, is deep in contact with the London criminal underworld. Absolutely amazing. You don't wanna get on her bad side, cause while she might get punched in the eye, she'll leave you bloodied on the ground. Warned ya! Elton: aka the ninja kid; has too many brothers and an amazing and inspiring dad. A family of martial arts masters. Coloured. (view spoiler)[Gay (hide spoiler)] . Hilarious and one of a kind. Unmatched actor and storyteller. The game master. Very not up to doing criminal related stuff, doesn't believe in time travel. “So far, we’ve just been trespassing. Now we’re breaking and entering. That’s what the charge will be. And if we come out with something that’s not ours, that’s burglary. Just so we’re clear.” Simon: aka the calc kid; not wired like regular people, emotions go above his head. Not great with change. Very precious. Adorable. Petrified of dancing and parties. A human calculator that could come up with a number like four million one hundred and forty-seven thousand two hundred, not even considering the calculations and speed. Sure peace of cake, right? John: aka the rich kid; very charming, supposedly confident but also very self-conscious, takes centuries to get ready for a party and dances terribly (but don't tell him that) 😂 in summary, he's more than he seems at first glance, so no judging! Specially not for having a racist mother! This never fails to make me howl with laughter 😂 ⤵ The last call came when he was half an hour late. “I’m leaving! I’m leaving!” “You’re back at your house?” “No, I’m leaving. Pay attention.” “Leaving your house?” “I'm heading for the door. The phone cord won’t stretch much further! Cover your ears. When it pings back it’s going to make a hell of a—” Simon's mum: not of the main 5 but I just had to mention her because damn I need her in my life. The complete opposite of Simon—the closest he can come to swearing is “damnation”, but his mum can make sailors blush! Golden moment which'll make you realise what I'm talking about (note that Simon's straight 😂): “Fuck me sideways!” “Mum!” Simon’s protest went unheeded. “It’s like a stately home. In Richmond.” Simon’s mum gawped without shame. “Go on then. And Simon, if there’s even the slightest chance he’s gay, make sure you marry him!” Relationships Complicated friendships have always been something I've considered to be one of Mark Lawrence's specialities and strongest points. He has a way of subtly building a strong bond and making you feel it in your bones. I have felt and seen that in every single one of his books—between murderers and honourable men alike. Now trying his hand with teenagers of the 1980s, Mark has done it again :) One of the reasons this review was so hard for me to write was exactly that—(view spoiler)[or more specifically, the loss of Elton's friendship, which was so tragic and I just :'( I can't talk about it... Unsaid words have always been a weakness of mine. The things you'd never to say. The words they'd never get to hear. And to think that he'll never get to tell him the things he didn't know and his choice to not sacrifice anyone... (hide spoiler)] Suffice it to say, Mark made me care so deeply about their friendship in such few words that I felt any small crack in their bonds in my heart. I call that a masterpiece of relationship building. She made me feel like I was part of something, part of the world, not just skating around the edges, too tied up in myself to join in. Now what I didn't expect was the brewing romance—and oh did I love it... To be honest, in both The Broken Empire or Red Queen's War series, the romance was always a subtle background presence that was felt in different ways and on different levels by the characters; and while I loved it and treasured it in those books, this was so exquisite and unforgettable, and man I had no idea how I'd been missing Mark Lawrence's delicate romance in my life. “I don’t know what love is. I think that’s something I’ve just started learning about. I know how it starts though. It seems that it grows and changes, and changes you, too. I hope it makes us better. I...I’m not saying this very well...but I think I’m going to grow into a man who could love the woman you’re going to grow into...” *grabs a tissue, turns away, sniffles, loudly, cleans tears, sniffles a little more, turns back* where was I?? Oh, I was talking about how rare it is to find a romance so well written, unpretentious, and real in a book, YA or Adult. I'd move Mark Lawrence higher on my favourite authors list if he wasn't already sitting on second place after George R.R. Martin. So there you go. “That’s it?” I frowned. I had hoped for some deeper wisdom that might help me unravel the conundrums of infinitely many universes and man’s relationship with time and memory. Now don't panic—and open your eyes. You might find an advice you deem small might be the truest of them all. I can only tell you this: read this book—you won't regret it! Many thanks to Mark Lawrence for generously providing me with an ARC of One Word Kill through NetGalley :) Companions Book playlist: [ Spotify LINK to series playlist ] • “Dream Is Collapsing” by Hans Zimmer (main song, suspenseful, D&D, breaking and entering) • “Allow Me” by Kilgore (funny/gathering scenes) • “Carry You” by Ruelle & Fleurie (emotional/touching moments, in hospital, the end, friendship scenes) • “Daydream” by Ruelle (mysterious, suspenseful, dabbling in time)

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of One Word Kill in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Mark Lawrence and 47North for approaching me to read this early. Starting on the 8th January 1986, Nick a gangly 15-year-old who is extremely intelligent is diagnosed with leukaemia. The doctors advise that he may only have up to 5 years to live. In the local hospital, he goes through Chemotherapy and shares a children's ward with many other suffering youths as they weaken and essentiall I received an uncorrected proof copy of One Word Kill in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Mark Lawrence and 47North for approaching me to read this early. Starting on the 8th January 1986, Nick a gangly 15-year-old who is extremely intelligent is diagnosed with leukaemia. The doctors advise that he may only have up to 5 years to live. In the local hospital, he goes through Chemotherapy and shares a children's ward with many other suffering youths as they weaken and essentially fade from health and normality. He has to visit the hospital weekly yet when he is not there he is living the life of a normalish geeky teenager. Going to school, dealing with bullies, scared to talk to girls but what he looks forward to the most is the weekly D&D meet-ups he has with his best friends. They can forget about the monotony and hardships real-life presents and lose themselves in a fantastical adventure where their imagination is the only limitation. When he is playing, even Nick forgets about what ails him. It all seems pretty straightforward until intense deja-vu affects the protagonist, a shadowy stranger starts stalking him, certain events that happen in their sessions are scarily close to some real-life events and what's even scarier than all is that a young lady has joined the group's D&D party! It's no secret that in my humble opinion Mark Lawrence is one of the finest and most consistent fantasy authors currently writing. By profession, Lawrence is actually a scientist so it seemed like only a matter of time before he made the foray into the science fiction genre. This is completely unlike anything Lawrence has published before. This isn't like any science fiction stories I've read previously and for all the elements of time travel, parallel universes, complex mathematics and quantum mechanics, it features drug dealers, local psychopaths and the D&D group trying to learn how to dance to impress the ladies. It's a peculiar mix but I'm happy to say it works expertly. The story is presented through Nick's first-person perspective and he is a very likeable character who is a joy to follow. The accompanying cast is surprisingly deep and well fleshed out to say that this is quite a short book. I'd estimate it's approximately 90,000 words. In addition to Nick, My favourite characters were Mia, the goth girl who joins the boys games, Elton, who adores his kung-fu practising, and John, the cool dude who loves D&D but doesn't mention it to any of his school friends. Also, a character called Demus who I will say nothing about but who is hugely important and influential to the overall narrative and progression of the tale. It is difficult to summarise and this probably won't be accurate enough but this is the best I can come up with. This seemed like a mix of Stranger Things, Donnie Darko, the Xbox game Alan Wake mixed with the youthful antics and awkwardness seen in comedy shows The Inbetweeners and The Big Bang Theory. Some of the scientific language written does come across occasionally as confusing and very hi-tech and knowing Mark's profession I imagine it's all legit and accurate. Although the story is complex, multi-layered, unpredictable and ultimately enduring it wasn't too difficult for me to follow as Lawrence is an excellent writer. The writing is sometimes intoxicating and addictive however surreal and bizarre certain events may be and I loved the humourous flow and banter between the friends. Mark's prose is poetic and sometimes, in a good way, hypnotising. I read One Word Kill within 24 hours and it was all I could think about to the extent where I dreamt about the shadowy character who stalks Nick! The world building is admirable whether describing the suburbs in London, a friend's council flat or describing the London underground service. There are lots of brilliant references to the mid-80's such as the fact Back to the Future had just been released, kids play on their Commodore 64's and that everyone believes Hoverboards will be the obvious invention that the future will present. I really enjoyed, and I bet Mark enjoyed writing the descriptions of the D&D ventures. These sections are closer to what he has written before but with more humour, teenagers innocence and tropes including typical creatures like orcs, vampires, mages, clerics, warriors that will probably prompt a sense of nostalgia for his readers and the target audience. I regret that I've never played D&D. :( This is not released until April 2019 but already in August 2018, this is one of the finest uncorrected proofs I have ever read. I did not notice a single error which is exceptional and shows the hard work Mark, Agnes and 47North have put into this tale. This works perfectly as a standalone. The ending is absolutely spectacular and wraps everything up perfectly. I loved the setting, the protagonist, the characters including the supporting and very minor players, the thrills and spills and emotions. To be honest, the very minor and possible negative that I have is that some of the terminologies threw me off balance very occasionally. 47North enjoyed this book so much they asked Lawrence to turn it into a trilogy of which all the books will be released in 2019. A note to his current fans, although a few scenes are dark and gruesome this is very different to his previous works. An exceptional time-travel adventure featuring a gang of geeks that's cleverly composed, thrilling and will hopefully aid Lawrence's to rise to the top of the game in another genre. I loved it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teodora

    I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to receive this ARC in exchange of an honest review! Full review: The Dacian She-Wolf All you need to know about this book is that if you’re not a quantum mechanics genius or at least decent in maths or physics or at least a spaceship engineer like meself (I am absolutely joking, of course, I struggle with addition on a daily basis, don't take me seriously) this book is going to make you feel dumb on a superior level. I felt high I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to receive this ARC in exchange of an honest review! Full review: The Dacian She-Wolf All you need to know about this book is that if you’re not a quantum mechanics genius or at least decent in maths or physics or at least a spaceship engineer like meself (I am absolutely joking, of course, I struggle with addition on a daily basis, don't take me seriously) this book is going to make you feel dumb on a superior level. I felt highly dumb reading through this book, but I approve of my dumbness because the book enlightened me (in a very small portion because I am hopeless). Nerdiness is a great word to describe the structure of the book. Some maths enthusiast teenagers gather to talk about time travel and play Dungeons and Dragons in the ‘80s. Come on, it sticks to it! The characters are lovable. And I mean it. I think it is one of the most important aspects of the book. They are just so cool and witty and cute and smooshy. Love ‘em all. And the cutest of them all is Nick. Maybe it’s the fact that the story is narrated from his point of view and we have this way access to his thoughts (which are brilliant I might add), but I feel like if we were to be in any other of our characters’ minds, it would’ve been equally great. Even though it’s short (only 200 and so pages), this book is eventful. It’s actually so packed with events that one hardly can get past a chapter without something notable even happen. Which, in my opinion, it is good. Great actually. All is there left to say is this: - a great, readable book; - cancer can suck it; - GEEK POWER! Thanks for putting up with my shit today, read the book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    3.75 stars for this mix of 1980’s Dungeons and Dragons (with a British teenage cast) + cancer + time travel/multi-universe aspect. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature (in a different, collaborative form, with a couple of my co-reviewers at FanLit). Nick, the 15 year old narrator of the story and a math genius, who's a wizard named Nicodemus in his D&D games, finds out that he has leukaemia right at the start of the story. His group of D&D-playing friends sticks behind him, in 3.75 stars for this mix of 1980’s Dungeons and Dragons (with a British teenage cast) + cancer + time travel/multi-universe aspect. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature (in a different, collaborative form, with a couple of my co-reviewers at FanLit). Nick, the 15 year old narrator of the story and a math genius, who's a wizard named Nicodemus in his D&D games, finds out that he has leukaemia right at the start of the story. His group of D&D-playing friends sticks behind him, including the girl, Mia, who recently joined the group. She's probably too cool for the nerdy Nick, but he's still interested in her. :) Nick also has a couple of pretty scary enemies from his school: the bully Michael Devis and the even more vicious Ian Rust. One day, while Devis is picking on Nick, an older, balding man named Demus (hmmm) appears out of nowhere to slug Michael Devis in the mouth just as Devis is about to empty Nick’s backpack into a pool of vomit. Demus looks strangely familiar to Nick, and the reader figures out why pretty quickly (the clues aren’t exactly subtle). Soon Demus is explaining time travel to Nick, setting out a rationale for it in quantum mechanics, and giving Nick puzzles to solve to make his future ― and, significantly, Mia’s ― possible. Things grow ominous when Ian Rust is expelled from school and takes up with a local drug dealer to whom Mia owes a debt. Demus makes things even more difficult by asking for a piece of technology that doesn’t exist except as a highly-secured prototype in Nick’s time. I found the plot intriguing (I have to say I'm a fan of time travel tales and strongly predisposed to approve of them). Mark Lawrence’s writing style is also a noticeable step up from the usual:A decade seemed like forever, and it would take three of them just to reach the age my mother was right now. Cancer had closed that down. Like the big C, curling in on itself, my view of the future had narrowed to tunnel vision, aimed squarely at the next week, next month … would I have a next year? I was carrying not only the burden of my sickness but the pressure of making something worthwhile of each day now that my towering stack of them had fallen into ruin and left me clutching at each hour as it slipped between my fingers.The characters also appealed to me (well, except for the psychopathic Rust, with the “hole in his mind that needed to be filled with other people’s pain”) and the plot kept me engaged and interested. When all was said and done, though, the motivation for Demus’ trip to the past seems clearly insufficient, given the high price that Demus knows it will cost. To say more would get us into spoiler territory, but perhaps the next book will clarify why it was so vitally necessary. As it currently stands, it was a big enough plot hole for me to knock down my rating by a star, especially when combined with too many logical questions being sidestepped with the rationale that Demus has to take certain actions simply because that’s the way it happened before. Lawrence’s choice of “One Word Kill” as the title of this novel plays out in at least a couple of ways. A key point in a couple of the characters’ D&D games is a spell named “Power Word Kill”; Nick points out how “lame” he thinks this spell is because with every other bad thing that happens, there’s some chance, however small, that you can escape. But with Power Word Kill, there’s no chance at all to escape the spell if it’s cast at you. That same sense of inexorable death looms over Nick personally because of that “one word” every human dreads to hear: “Cancer.” But perhaps there’s a narrow way out for Nick after all… The next book, Limited Wish, has just been released. It takes the plot in some interesting new directions! I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Thank you!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Khurram

    Back to the 80s A great book that hit all the right cords. It is heart wrenching in places and nostalgia in others with likeable characters that I could not help cheer for. The book starts with the world's worst gut punch possible. The story is great mixture of emotions and scifi. The nostalgia of the story for me is the era the book is set in, 1985 as well as the places and landmarks. It is a great reminder of how far we have come technologically since then. How life was before the internet and m Back to the 80s A great book that hit all the right cords. It is heart wrenching in places and nostalgia in others with likeable characters that I could not help cheer for. The book starts with the world's worst gut punch possible. The story is great mixture of emotions and scifi. The nostalgia of the story for me is the era the book is set in, 1985 as well as the places and landmarks. It is a great reminder of how far we have come technologically since then. How life was before the internet and mobile phones. I was not sure I would like this book as youngers with terminal disease is usually a turn off for me. Though the story of the human coping mechanism and a little help from friends, the bonds formed, and possible the likeliest band of heroes since the Goonies. This is a great read and a trip down memory lane for any one growing in the 80s London. From places to peoples technology and tolerances. I would definitely like to know what happens next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Gwynne

    I absolutely loved this book. A fantastic sci-fi reminding me of Stranger Things and the time-bending concepts of the Terminator. I was a teenager through the 1980’s and I loved the sense of nostalgia Mark’s story evoked. It’s a rollercoaster of adventure, wrapped up in nuanced characters and a tight, twisty plot. This is a book that gripped me and didn’t let go until the last page. It’s everything that I look for in a book, and like the best of reads one that has stayed with long after I finish I absolutely loved this book. A fantastic sci-fi reminding me of Stranger Things and the time-bending concepts of the Terminator. I was a teenager through the 1980’s and I loved the sense of nostalgia Mark’s story evoked. It’s a rollercoaster of adventure, wrapped up in nuanced characters and a tight, twisty plot. This is a book that gripped me and didn’t let go until the last page. It’s everything that I look for in a book, and like the best of reads one that has stayed with long after I finished it. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    My one line review: "I clapped after reading the last line. Don’t know if that’s ever happened before." I'm content to leave this review as simple as that, but I owe it to NetGalley and other potential readers to provide a bit more information. I do think it's best that you go into this story completely blind -- Mark Lawrence has earned enough trust where I don't have to read an advance blurb to know that his stories are'worth reading. That being said, I'll provide a few minor plot spoilers below, My one line review: "I clapped after reading the last line. Don’t know if that’s ever happened before." I'm content to leave this review as simple as that, but I owe it to NetGalley and other potential readers to provide a bit more information. I do think it's best that you go into this story completely blind -- Mark Lawrence has earned enough trust where I don't have to read an advance blurb to know that his stories are'worth reading. That being said, I'll provide a few minor plot spoilers below, and try to only touch on overall themes, instead of major plot points. The story is set in London during the 1980's, and focuses on unpopular teenager Nick who was just diagonsed with leukemia. Nick has a small group of friends that meet on weekends for Dungeons and Dragons, and we get to experience some wonderful role-playing sessions with some talented players. (I was especially nostalgic during these scenes, as I spent many a weekend in a similar position.). Nick and some other members of his group have exceptionally brilliant minds -- one has a brain that can solve computations in seconds, while Nick himself is a student of advanced quantum theory. Somehow, Lawrence combines cancer, D&D, and quantum mechanics into a complex story that highlights the bonds of friendship, pushes the boundaries of physics, and is also somehow a sweet and heart-wrenching love story. (Go ahead and pre-order now, I'll wait.) Lawrence has some wondeful tricks up his sleeve that underlines his exceptional writing talent. There's a jaw-dropping reveal on page one that stuck in the back of my mind throughout the entire book, and how that revelation comes to fruition is as sneaky and unexpected as it is brilliant. The book isn't that long, and its pace invites the reader to fly through it in very few reading sessions. I encourage you to try and savor it for as long as possible, as it is over much too soon. Although it is the start of a trilogy, there is a definitive and wondefully satisfying ending. (It also offers some sound and applicable life advice, which has had me smiling ever since.) Great characters. Unique story. A setting that takes full advantage of what it has to offer, and a memorable ending that left me waiting impatiently for the next entry. This story is (quite literally) filled with infinite possibilities, and I'm damn excited to see what else Lawrence has in store.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence and narrated by Matthew Frow is an awesome fantasy that also mixed heavy real world subjects into the plot. The main character is a teen that plays D&D with friends, has a crush on a girl, deals with a wicked bully, and just got diagnosed with cancer. Then he sees a guy following him around, then protecting him, then predicting the future. It really gets wild! So much happens with each of the items or issues of his life. This is so unpredictable and totally awe One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence and narrated by Matthew Frow is an awesome fantasy that also mixed heavy real world subjects into the plot. The main character is a teen that plays D&D with friends, has a crush on a girl, deals with a wicked bully, and just got diagnosed with cancer. Then he sees a guy following him around, then protecting him, then predicting the future. It really gets wild! So much happens with each of the items or issues of his life. This is so unpredictable and totally awesome! I didn't see most of this coming! A wild ride! The narrator was terrific in keeping all the voices separate and distinct. Well done!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Petros Triantafyllou

    Nick Hayes takes the news of his imminent death pretty well, or at least as well as any fifteen-year-old boy would. With an aggressive form of leukemia, the same disease he lost his father to a few years back, he knows that he has to live in full the last few months of his life. And what would that entail? Playing D&D with his friends, of course. But when the seemingly random events of his D&D campaign start mirroring real-life situations, or vice versa, he realizes that leukemia may not Nick Hayes takes the news of his imminent death pretty well, or at least as well as any fifteen-year-old boy would. With an aggressive form of leukemia, the same disease he lost his father to a few years back, he knows that he has to live in full the last few months of his life. And what would that entail? Playing D&D with his friends, of course. But when the seemingly random events of his D&D campaign start mirroring real-life situations, or vice versa, he realizes that leukemia may not be his biggest problem yet. "In hospital they ask you to rate your discomfort on a scale of ten. I guess it's the best they can come up with, but it fails to capture the nature of the beast. Pain can stay the same while you change around it. And like a thumb of constant size, what it blocks out depends on how close it gets to you. At arm's length a thumb obscures a small fragment of the day. Held close enough to your eye, and it can blind you to everything that matters, relegating the world to a periphery." I was a bit reluctant to read One Word Kill. I may have enjoyed every single published work of Mark Lawrence so far, but a Science-Fiction novel was a big departure from traditional Fantasy, and a huge risk for me since I'm not a fan of the genre. But since the setting of the story is in the past as opposed to a futuristic environment, and since it has been compared to Stranger Things which I fairly enjoyed, I thought I should give it a go. I ended up reading the whole novel, start to finish, in less than three hours yesterday night. And then I read it again today, for good measure. I wanted to start this review by saying that this may be Mark's best work yet, but I realized I've said the exact same thing in my last 3 reviews of his books. By all accounts, Mark shouldn't be able to get better and better with every novel, since his work was perfect to begin with, but here he is, defying logic... Standing at 60k words, with an insane pace and an ever-increasing momentum, One Word Kill won't let you breathe. It doesn't matter if you've never played D&D before (I have) or if you have knowledge of physics in general and of the quantum realm in particular (I haven't), this is a story worth reading. Due to its small size I'm not able to tell you more about the plot than what I've included in the blurb above without spoiling it, but I don't think I have to. What I can talk about is the other aspects of the book. Pace and plot I've already told you about. The book excels at everything else as well. Even if you're of a younger generation, with Mark's vivid imagery and lavish descriptions you won't have trouble adjusting to the 80s setting the story takes place in. Same goes with the physics that replace the magical aspect of a fantasy book. Mark presents and explains the many-worlds interpretation in an easy to follow way, but that doesn't mean it won't get complex enough in places to make you think your way through many problems and dilemmas the story presents later on. The prose combined with Mark's philosophical musings results in some quotes that will stay with you far longer than the story ever will, but I'll leave a snippet from the book to prove that to you. "The equations that govern the universe don't care about 'now'. You can ask them questions about this time or that time, but nowhere in the elegance of their mathematics is there any such thing as 'now'. The idea of one specific moment, one universal 'now' racing along at sixty minutes an hour, slicing through the seconds, spitting the past out behind it and throwing itself into the future... that's just an artefact of consciousness, something entirely of our own making that the cosmos has no use for." Finally, what shines the brightest among all other aspects of the novel is the characterization. You would think that 60k words wouldn't be enough to flesh out the characters but you would be wrong. Mark managed to make me care not only about the protagonist but the other characters as well in such a way that I won't forgive him for it, given the bittersweet ending. All in all, One Word Kill is one of the best books I've read in my life, and I'm confident it will prove to be the same for you too.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlie - A Reading Machine

    Firstly I want to start by saying what a huge pleasure it is hearing Mark speak in such a different voice. I’ve read and loved all his books but this series opener was like a gifted musician revealing that he knows yet another instrument and pulling out one of those guitars that is actually two guitars and it is fluorescent purple and electric. With the book described as Ready Player One meets Stranger Things (and I’d also chuck some Terminator and Butterfly Effect in there too) readers have some Firstly I want to start by saying what a huge pleasure it is hearing Mark speak in such a different voice. I’ve read and loved all his books but this series opener was like a gifted musician revealing that he knows yet another instrument and pulling out one of those guitars that is actually two guitars and it is fluorescent purple and electric. With the book described as Ready Player One meets Stranger Things (and I’d also chuck some Terminator and Butterfly Effect in there too) readers have some clues as to what might be coming as we explore the lives of some random teenagers growing up in the 80’s. Alternate realities, inter-dimensional bubbles, time travel and way more are all up for grabs but don’t be too intimidated. Lawrence’s physics background and skill as a writer ensures everything is grounded within a reality we mere mortals can comprehend. I don’t generally expect to pick up complex scientific concepts instantly and neither should you so I recommend you sit back and let it flow. I enjoyed the moments where I had to reread something because it was often a case of just working through the logic of a particularly mind bending piece of action and I never had to just give up and move on. The characters are unique without being tropes and Nick, Elton, Mia, John and Simon all bring something different to the party. Elton is the Dungeon Master and someone who seems to live the game not just orchestrate it. Simon is the least brave of the group generally choosing to run instead of fight but is a true friend when it counts, Mia provides the boys with a level of trust and acceptance they had probably never experienced from the opposite sex and shows a commitment to the game that rivals anything the group has seen before. John is a nice guy living on the wealthier side of things with a racist mum and a secret or two of his own and Nick is obviously our protagonist and we experience the events of the book from his perspective. They are a good mix and by the end of the book I felt invested in their lives and wanted to read on not to just see how the plot would continue to unfold but to see what happened to each of them as individuals. The D&D sequences in particular were brilliant fun. Mark did a great job at making the character of Elton a superbly talented storyteller and he’s the sort of dungeon master that would make someone like myself, who has never played RPG’s, excited to give them a go. Yeah I know we all want Mark Lawrence to be our dungeon master but I asked first and he don’t travel. It is pretty epic that he managed to slot some really amazing fantasy sequences into this already sensational science fiction adventure. I do have one criticism but it's a spoiler. (view spoiler)[ We have Nick the Protagonist. His D&D name is Nicodemus. A guy who calls himself Demus arrives and not one person seems to make the connection. These are intelligent people but it doesn't even seem to pop on their radar because it would mean they figured it out quicker than than they should have (hide spoiler)] One World Kill is more YA than anything of his I’ve read before but doesn’t shy away from very adult concepts especially when it comes to the realities of living with cancer and chemotherapy. I think younger readers will appreciate that they are not being molly coddled through some tough sequences as though there is some adult exclusivity on being sick. It’s light on the 80’s shout-outs, which I really appreciated. You know where and when you are from the authenticity of the dialogue and the surrounding elements not because someone is constantly dropping pop culture references but simply because it sounds natural. The conversations and moments between the different characters are always revealing, always moving the story forward and at only a couple of hundred pages it’s fair to say this book absolutely rockets along. Overall I feel One Word Kill is the start of something very special and will not only give Mark’s legions of fans something they’ve never had from him before but also introduce him to a new more science fiction inclined generation. As a fan of both I felt like Charlie in the chocolate factory, which would make Lawrence Willy Wonka. It’s a wild and riveting ride and we have a master craftsman at the wheel. One Word Kill is published by 47North and is coming out on May 1st. It will be followed very quickly by Limited Wish in June, with the final book in the series slated for release before the end of 2019.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Mark Lawrence can do no wrong. I devoured this story, it was just so much fun. This story follows Nick, a young boy who at the start of the story, find out he has leukemia. He and his friends are avid Dungeons and Dragons players and you follow them on masterful D&D sequences that absorb and enchant you. The story is set in 80's London and feels authentic and nostalgic with callbacks to my own (slightly later) childhood. The pace of the story does not let up and keeps you hooked all of the w Mark Lawrence can do no wrong. I devoured this story, it was just so much fun. This story follows Nick, a young boy who at the start of the story, find out he has leukemia. He and his friends are avid Dungeons and Dragons players and you follow them on masterful D&D sequences that absorb and enchant you. The story is set in 80's London and feels authentic and nostalgic with callbacks to my own (slightly later) childhood. The pace of the story does not let up and keeps you hooked all of the way through. I really really enjoyed this and can't wait to read the next one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    One Word Kill is my first experience with Lawrence’s science fiction and, while it didn’t resonate with my soul as deeply as his Book of the Ancestor, it was a solid, fun, fast-paced read that I very much enjoyed. Here we have a nerdy group of friends, similar in dynamic to the crew that has taken the world by storm in Netflix’s Stranger Things. This group finds themselves facing external strife through contact with a plot that could have come straight from the pages of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matte One Word Kill is my first experience with Lawrence’s science fiction and, while it didn’t resonate with my soul as deeply as his Book of the Ancestor, it was a solid, fun, fast-paced read that I very much enjoyed. Here we have a nerdy group of friends, similar in dynamic to the crew that has taken the world by storm in Netflix’s Stranger Things. This group finds themselves facing external strife through contact with a plot that could have come straight from the pages of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. But just as harrowing is their internal turmoil as they learn that one of their number is currently in a battle for his life against the grimmest of foes: cancer. In hospital they ask you to rate your discomfort on a scale of ten. I guess it’s the best they can come up with, but it fails to capture the nature of the beast. Pain can stay the same while you change around it. And, like a thumb of constant size, what it blocks out depends on how close it gets to you. At arm’s length a thumb obscures a small fragment of the day. Held close enough to your eye it can blind you to everything that matters, relegating the world to a periphery. Nick is our main character, and we get the story from his perspective. The story begins with his cancer diagnosis, and we see him wrestle with the horrors of chemotherapy and the knowledge that his body is turning against him. While I didn’t have this struggle as a teen, my husband was diagnosed with cancer at sixteen, so I can imagine Nick’s situation and felt deeply for him. Nick’s refuge from his pain and fear comes in the form of weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaigns with his friends. Truth may often be the first casualty of war, but dignity is definitely the first casualty of disease. While I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons, it’s not from lack of interest. I’m fascinated by the game, but it’s overwhelming to figure out how to start, especially when you don’t have enough interested people in your life to play the game effectively. However, I love reading (or watching, regarding Stranger Things) groups of friends who have bonded over D and D. There’s something so intelligent and imaginative and immersive about the game as I’ve heard it described, and I can see how bonding over said game would make for a pretty tight and abiding friendship. We were all of us consumed by our own imagination, victims of it, haunted by impossibles, set alight by our own visions, and by other people’s. We weren’t the flamboyant artsy creatives, the darlings who would walk the boards beneath the hot eye of the spotlight, or dance, or paint, or even write novels. We were a tribe who had always felt as if we were locked into a box that we couldn’t see. And when D&D came along, suddenly we saw both the box and the key. There’s also a romance in the book that reminded me again of Stranger Things. It was similarly sweet, though not as pure. I can see that relationship becoming even more of a central focus in the next two installments. We might live in a multiverse of infinite wonder, but we are what we are, and can only care about what falls into our own orbit. I don’t want to really get into the external strife that plagues the group, as I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that I figured out the plot incredibly early on, but the story was fun enough for me to look past that. If you’re a fan of Stranger Things and Back to the Future and Dark Matter, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. Also, it’s very short, making it a great choice if you’re looking for a breather between heavier reads. I found it fairly predictable, but that’s not always a bad thing. One Word Kill is a nice, easy story to disappear into for a few hours, and I’ll definitely be reading the next two books. I can’t recall ever seeing another author publish an entire trilogy in under a year, which I think warrants a special congratulations to Lawrence. I’m interested to see where the story goes next.

  17. 5 out of 5

    preoccupiedbybooks

    A really enjoyable and nostalgic adventure, with a great bunch of characters! As soon as I saw this on Amazon First Reads, I snapped it up, and I did not regret it! This quite short book packed a punch, and I loved it! I had been meaning to read a Mark Lawrence book for a while now, and I'm so glad that I finally did. Firstly, the characters in this were fantastic! I loved Nick and his gang of misfits! I can see why people have been comparing this with Stranger Things because there were a few para A really enjoyable and nostalgic adventure, with a great bunch of characters! As soon as I saw this on Amazon First Reads, I snapped it up, and I did not regret it! This quite short book packed a punch, and I loved it! I had been meaning to read a Mark Lawrence book for a while now, and I'm so glad that I finally did. Firstly, the characters in this were fantastic! I loved Nick and his gang of misfits! I can see why people have been comparing this with Stranger Things because there were a few parallels. A group of nerds playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980s ✔️ They both have to save one of their friends✔️ They both have a similar feel, which isn't a bad thing. In fact I would say that you could throw a bit of Terminator, Dark Matter and Grange Hill in there too! Nick was a great character, I really cared about him, and found him interesting. Every character added something to this group, and I loved their friendships! John, the cool, handsome rich one, Simon the socially awkward one with a brilliant mind and memory, Elton the play master, and Mia the new, edgy girl. I wont say much about the plot, as I don't want to spoil it for anyone, just that despite Nick finding out that he has cancer, him and his friends had to solve a mystery and save a girl, plus deal with the usual teenage dramas! It was a really engaging read, and I had fun following the mystery, seeing what Nick and his friends would do. I also liked the D+D element, as I was too young for that in real life, being a small child in the 80s. As Mark Lawrence is a scientist, there was a bit of quantum mechanics and maths in here too, which made me think. It was very thought provoking. So yeah this was a lot of fun, but it also did hit on some darker themes, such as terminal illness, drug dealing, violence and racial tension. "The thing about cancer is that it doesn't just go away. You don't wake up. And in the end you just have to get on with things exactly like everyone else does." Growing up in the UK in the 80s/90s, I thought this had a really authentic feel to it. The setting and world building felt really nostalgic to me. I remember having to sit in my mums kitchen like these characters if I wanted to talk on the landline, which was attached to the wall lol! I remember using phone boxes with my friends in the days before mobile phones. I also liked the pop culture references, like to Back to he future! I loved that film! Like said earlier, this was a relatively short book, and it had a great pace, with short and snappy chapters. I was engaged the whole time. Shout out to Mark for not making us wait a gazillion years for the rest of the series! I so appreciate that the next book is also out this month, and the final one later this year! That is so awesome, thank you! I already have 'Limited Wish' on my Kindle from Netgalley, and I cant wait to get started on it!👍 👍 -------------------------------------------------------------------- Why am I only just hearing about this?! *Trips over own feet trying to add it*

  18. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    This made me want to play Dungeons and Dragons, and after not playing Dungeons and Dragons for thirty-five years, I finally did. Partly because a friend kept nudging me, and partly because damn, now I had to. Mark Lawrence has an amazing voice, and by the end of the first page it's clear One Word Kill can only turn into a great book, and there's nothing that can stop it. "But as it turned out, I would die even before February got into its stride." What a sentence. On the first page. The story is t This made me want to play Dungeons and Dragons, and after not playing Dungeons and Dragons for thirty-five years, I finally did. Partly because a friend kept nudging me, and partly because damn, now I had to. Mark Lawrence has an amazing voice, and by the end of the first page it's clear One Word Kill can only turn into a great book, and there's nothing that can stop it. "But as it turned out, I would die even before February got into its stride." What a sentence. On the first page. The story is told through Nick who is an incredibly likeable and compelling character. The rest of the cast is well developed, and I cared deeply about their relationships with each other. Lawrence's writing is imaginative and hilarious. He's got the reader chuckling, then welling up three sentences later. The biggest theme here is friendship, but the novel has a bit of everything: The kids from Stranger Things meet Donnie Darko's time travel, topped with a healthy dose of young adults growing up in England. It's a short book, the pacing is impeccable, and it can be swallowed in one swift gulp. And the best part? This could be a standalone. It wraps up neatly, and I actually thought it wasn't part of a series. I am pleased to hear there will be more, but people who are afraid of cliffhangers: don't be. I recommend this to all Mark Lawrence fans, of course, and beyond that anyone who enjoys time travel, the 80's, Dungeons & Dragons, Stranger Things and anything else I've mentioned. Basically: read this, and you will love it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    The Fault in Our Stars meets D&D fandom meets TIME TRAVEL. I don't know why I thought this was an example of LitRPG but it isn't. It just happens to have a group of friends playing D&D in the 80's with our protagonist going through his own kind of hell with Cancer. There happens to be a real-world adventure, a bit of romance, and a psychopath, but let's not forget a few closed-time-like-loops, memory alterations, and the sweetness of kissing a girl. :) So what about One Word Kill? The D&am The Fault in Our Stars meets D&D fandom meets TIME TRAVEL. I don't know why I thought this was an example of LitRPG but it isn't. It just happens to have a group of friends playing D&D in the 80's with our protagonist going through his own kind of hell with Cancer. There happens to be a real-world adventure, a bit of romance, and a psychopath, but let's not forget a few closed-time-like-loops, memory alterations, and the sweetness of kissing a girl. :) So what about One Word Kill? The D&D scroll that ignores saving throws once and for all? Ahhh, this is where the book gets really good. Not only do we have a few D&D in-the-know tropes working their way into theme and plot, but we've got a few great reversals that make this all kinds of awesome. I love it. It's light, definitely YA, but it was also good in the way that really surprised me. In a deep way. Emotional. The time travel bit was not a gimmick. It worked very well. :) No spoilers! Enjoy it for yourself! :)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Will.J.R. Gwynne

    My expanded review is now on Booknest.... http://booknest.eu/component/k2/william/1581-one-word-kill-impossible-times-1-by-mark-lawrence-book-review “It’s always a shock, when you’ve been hit by a calamity, so see the world go about its business with perfect indifference.” One Word Kill is the first book in the Impossible Times series by Mark Lawrence. It has many similar aspects to Stranger Things, with it being set in the 1980s and the central characters being teenagers. It was such a brilliant r My expanded review is now on Booknest.... http://booknest.eu/component/k2/william/1581-one-word-kill-impossible-times-1-by-mark-lawrence-book-review “It’s always a shock, when you’ve been hit by a calamity, so see the world go about its business with perfect indifference.” One Word Kill is the first book in the Impossible Times series by Mark Lawrence. It has many similar aspects to Stranger Things, with it being set in the 1980s and the central characters being teenagers. It was such a brilliant read! The prose was incredibly fluid and satisfactory, just as I have come to expect from Mark Lawrence. The journey form page to page was easy and time did not come into account as I read from one chapter to the next. The plot created the perfect tone, with humour placed perfectly without impending the effect serious scenes had. The story was excellent with clever events and great character development taking place through pivotal moments. The characters formed my favourite part of the novel. The dialogue and interactions between the children particularly at D&D sessions were fantastic! Immersive, hilarious, and unique. Each person was established with their own set of characteristics that were kept consistent and succeeded in either making me love them, or hate them. “If you’ve no intention of obeying, then why not agree?” One Word Kill was an absolute five-star read, with consistent enjoyment oozing from every page that has invested me into the lives of these characters and caused me to feel fear, excitement, satisfaction and sorrow. I cannot wait for Limited Wish to arrive in the post so I can continue this journey, now just a frustrating wait that will feel much longer than 24 hours….

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    The kids in this remind me a little of the group of friends in stranger things. It is the 80s and they are English and there is time travel instead of the upside down. But it is a group of four boys who have been friends for most of their lives along with the new addition of Mia. They are the nerdier kids of the school and meet once a week to play D&D and make up fantastic adventures, but when the game starts to mirror what is happening in life, well it is a little too much for even Nick to The kids in this remind me a little of the group of friends in stranger things. It is the 80s and they are English and there is time travel instead of the upside down. But it is a group of four boys who have been friends for most of their lives along with the new addition of Mia. They are the nerdier kids of the school and meet once a week to play D&D and make up fantastic adventures, but when the game starts to mirror what is happening in life, well it is a little too much for even Nick to take in. “The magical power of D&D to draw together people who knew things. Who cared about questions that didn’t seem to matter.” Nick is going through a really tricky time in his life. He is at that awkward age of fifteen when you start to notice girls but aren’t sure what to do with them, you’re changing and not quite a kid but not quite an adult either and for Nick things have become even trickier because he just found out he has Leukemia. “They say it’s good to share, but in the end, whatever anyone says, we face the real shit alone. We die alone and on the way we shed our attachments.” But Nick has his unique collection of friends and the escape that D&D provides and a new strange man who looks very familiar and might just be from the future, here to help Mia (or future Mia), the new girl to the D&D group and someone Nick might just want to keep alive. There is a lot of talk about the Multiverse and Time Travel in this and I found a lot of the ideas presented very fascinating and fun to ponder. They don’t get too bogged down in the minutia that can drive most readers crazy but throw out some great ideas that make you think about the what if of the universe. Demus coms into Nick’s life at a time that he needs a little hope for his future. After finding out he had and aggressive form of Leukemia and the odds were not it his favor Nick didn’t know if he made it through the year let alone to a ripe old age of forty, but Demus assures Nick that if they do a few things and help Mia out in the process he will beat this round and go on in his life. They will need Nick’s eclectic group of friends to help to though and so the adventure begins. I very much enjoyed this coming of age story and the band of kids growing up together in the 80s. Sometimes Time Travel books drive me a little crazy but the rules of this one seemed set up pretty well and so I didn’t have the normal, well why wouldn’t you just go back and change…”insert so many events here”. It definitely worked for this story and so I’m excited to jump into Limited Wish.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Pretty cool book about a 15 year old kid that is diagnosed with leukaemia and shortly thereafter is approached by a strange guy that tells him that it’s not he who’s future is in danger but that of the girl he’s just met. Mia recently joined Nick and his three friends Simon, Elton and John in their weekly D&D sessions and while he gets to know the girl he’s trying to process what he had been told about her future and how he can prevent it. A real life adventure with some delicious time-loop sc Pretty cool book about a 15 year old kid that is diagnosed with leukaemia and shortly thereafter is approached by a strange guy that tells him that it’s not he who’s future is in danger but that of the girl he’s just met. Mia recently joined Nick and his three friends Simon, Elton and John in their weekly D&D sessions and while he gets to know the girl he’s trying to process what he had been told about her future and how he can prevent it. A real life adventure with some delicious time-loop scenario ensues as Nick and his friends also have to deal with a psycho bully from their school, problems with their parents, the horrors of talking to the other sex and dancing at parties, a coming-out and above all Nick’s illness. Mark Lawrence throws in some nice 80s references about films and music, as the story takes place in 1986 London. It doesn’t feel forced, though, and I enjoyed those bits quite a bit, as I’m a sucker for 80s nostalgia. But the most endearing feature of this book are the characters. While they are typical teenagers, they are not typical YA heroes as they don’t possess quasi superpowers that by chance make them perfectly suited for the hard task that lies ahead of them. They’re just normal guys that fall on the nerdy side of the spectrum. They are interested in maths and physics and some such and they love their Dungeons & Dragons. What I liked most, though, was the way Lawrence showed how Nick’s struggle with Leukaemia brought them even closer together. Everybody needs good friends. Especially when times are hard. The plot progresses naturally as the save the future stuff gets frequently interrupted by events that are grounded in real life but equally manage to move the story forward. The intricacies of the time travel part somehow not tumble over themselves and in the end the stakes are getting so high that I’m now tempted to pick up the next book before long, even though I actually had other plans. Just to be clear, the ending concludes the events of the first book perfectly well. But it also sets up the sequel in a very enticing way. I just really want to know what the future holds in store for these characters. Personal soundtrack for this one: When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies by GUNSHIP YouTube Bandcamp Kids by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein YouTube Bandcamp Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell YouTube Spooky by New Order YouTube Wanna Be Startin‘ Somethin‘ by Michael Jackson YouTube I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters YouTube Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood YouTube Tonight by Timecop1983 feat. Back in the Future YouTube Bandcamp Crimson and Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells YouTube Losing Control by Aviators YouTube Bandcamp Disorder by Joy Division YouTube Meet You at the End by Aviators YouTube Bandcamp Back In Time by Huey Lewis & The News YouTube

  23. 4 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    In Mark Lawrence’s gradual migration away from the kind of world and characters of his debut novel Prince of Thorns, One Word Kill represents the greatest step so far. We find ourselves neither in the fantastic ice threatened world of Abeth, nor the magically enhanced post-apocalyptic future Earth of the Broken Empire and the Red Queen’s War. We are instead on more nearly contemporary ground - South London in the 1980s – though Lawrence’s gift for sowing peril and dilemma has bled through into t In Mark Lawrence’s gradual migration away from the kind of world and characters of his debut novel Prince of Thorns, One Word Kill represents the greatest step so far. We find ourselves neither in the fantastic ice threatened world of Abeth, nor the magically enhanced post-apocalyptic future Earth of the Broken Empire and the Red Queen’s War. We are instead on more nearly contemporary ground - South London in the 1980s – though Lawrence’s gift for sowing peril and dilemma has bled through into that otherwise familiar milieu. Maybe some readers won’t have lived through such a place and time – well you should have. After the conflicted 70s that couldn’t decide whether to be brash or beige, punk or glam, the 80s were undeniably the best decade ever. One Word Kill has some elements of a Young Adult story like John Green’s Looking for Alaska (which I have read) or The Fault is in Our Stars (which I have heard a bit about). It focuses on the first person point of view of one teenage boy – Nick Carter – and his companionship with his differently geeky male friends and the solitary girl who infiltrates their role playing game gatherings. And this is role playing games 80s style! With polyhedral dice, character sheets, handbooks and dungeonmaster’s screens and everything. For those who have come anew to real RPG – with painted figurines and everything – I can only say we were there first (along with Mark Barrowcliffe author of “The Elfish Gene”). For those who have only encountered RPGs through the medium of a TV screen and a console, think maybe of the TV show Stranger Things but with older teenagers – and all that entails. In One Word Kill (as in Stranger Things) a real adventure intrudes and intertwines with the imaginary world in which Nick and his friends strive to lose themselves and their woes, and they have plenty of woes. Not least the fact that Nick is dying – diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. The schoolwork in which he was coasting - concealing his mathematical talent like a Ferrari ambling at low throttle through rush hour traffic – suddenly seems even less relevant. Each day differently precious, life itself suddenly fragile. Unlike Mark Lawrence’s previous oeuvre, there is no magic in One Word Kill, save the kind decided on the role of a d20 and scored off in reduced health against a character sheet or a wandering monster. For this is a book where the fantasy stays fictional and the fiction is driven by science. Lawrence dips his readers into quantum mechanics and how the inherent craziness of that part of Physics spews out as a by-product the “many worlds” hypothesis. This idea that - at key junctures, or indeed every juncture, the universe splits into parallel worlds - different timelines that branch out along the two (or more) alternative outcomes to every event. For example, in our universe the UK voted for Brexit, but there is another parallel universe where the vote went the other way (and I know which one I’d be happiest living in). So too there are different worlds, different futures, available to Nick – one in which he survives the leukemia, and many more in which he does not. A stranger appears offering Nick the chance to live in a version of the world where he survives the disease - provided he makes the correct choices. But at what cost to his friends and other aspects of his future? and why does the stranger have such an interest in the girl Nick has only just met? What is familiar? This is the ninth book by Mark Lawrence that I have read and the consistent standout feature of all of them has been the quality of writing. Lawrence’s prose is a joy to read with its sharp pithy observations on what it is to be a human in adversity. Nick’s condition necessitates several hospital trips, inherently grim clinical experiences which Lawrence conveys with an unfussy but expert eye. The pain… kept lifting me from the shallow pit of my dreams. Lawrence also captures the desperate search for escape from disease through a connection with others in one of Nick’s fellow oncology ward inmates. She kept talking as I followed Mother out, as if the conversation were a rope and if she could only keep it unbroken I would be held by it, unable to leave. In One Word Kill, Lawrence returns to the intimacy of first person point of view that we saw in his first six books. The reader rides in Nick’s head just as convincingly and enthrallingly as we once rode with Jorg Ancrath or Jalan Kendeth – though Nick, being neither a sociopath or an amoral coward, should be more relatable than his predecessor protagonists. However, Lawrence also weaves in to the narrative the quality of companionship that lifted Nona through the trials of Red and Grey Sister. This is a book about friends standing by, with and for friends, whatever the sacrifice. What is new? One Word Kill is a more significant perturbation from Lawrence’s previous books. Its link to the world of fantasy is preserved only through the window of the role-playing games that Nick and his friends indulge in, while the plot is driven by devices of science fiction. Even then the science fiction remains relatively low key, a backdrop that allows engaging characters and quality writing to take centre stage. There are more contemporary anchors ion which to pin the reader’s experience. Through Nick’s eyes we see again The Challenger space shuttle disaster, through his ears we hear of the Brixton riots and we visit more familiar (for me at least) locations in South London than we did in the drowned world of the Broken Empire. There are also the contemporary challenges and opportunities. For example the gut-wrenching male adolescent fear of dancing, the seeming impossibility of following a beat in any form of music, while at the same time hankering after the chance of a slow dance, those moments of closeness and intimacy that were the height of male ambition - or indeed comprehension - in a more innocent pre-internet age. What it left me thinking about His own medical prognosis together with the promises and demands of the stranger haunting his footsteps, force Nick into some reflections on the nature of self and existence. We are all the product of our experience as recorded in our (sometimes unreliable) memories. Those experiences have conditioned our behaviours and expectations, heavily moderating the influence of mere DNA and made us definably us. Without those memories we would be a fraction, a ghost of ourselves – which is perhaps the greatest cruelty of illnesses like Alzheimer’s. But at the same time one could ask are we really merely the memories? There is in the TV series – Altered Carbon – the notion that we can be reincarnated into different bodies by having our memories downloaded and installed into a fresh physical form – a “restore from back up” if you like. But is such a restoration really the preservation of self or the making of a copy? In a similar vein, if all of life’s choices involve us splitting and progressing down different timelines how far should we care about the timelines our version of self doesn’t follow. The alternative “me”s that we surely never meet? I recently read David Gemmell’s Legend – which incidentally was written around the same time that One Word Kill is set - and learnt that Gemmell’s impulse to write his debut novel was born out of a potential terminal cancer diagnosis. He wrote the first draft while waiting to hear if he would survive or not and kept two endings to the book in mind depending on whether his own outcome was positive or not. In Legend too there are the mysterious monks, the thirty led by Serbitar, who can glimpse into the future, following many potential time lines yet with limited power to change which one they themselves end up following. The reflections on choice and mortality that permeate Legend also test Nick in One Word Kill. Nick, pinned on the cusp of his own medical crisis, shares Gemmell’s blunt range of possible futures, but must ask if – in his choices – he is saving his own future or being trapped by it? And the final takeaway? This is a book about young people so maybe it is a book for young people, but then it is also a book about the 80s so maybe it is a book for people who were young in the 80s, but it’s also a book about friendships formed and tested – so really it’s a book for everyone. In One Word Kill Lawrence grabs some familiar science fiction conventions by the tail and gives them his own distinctive and brilliantly written twists. It is a book full of well-crafted credible characters that the reader quickly cares about who are confronting life threatening dilemmas and facing villains the reader will be desperate to see defeated – in short an enthralling tale about people challenged by dire adversity, and isn’t that at the heart of every great story?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    Squeaking by with 3 stars, cause I'm in a good mood today.

  25. 4 out of 5

    ☽¸¸.I am¸¸.•*¨ The ¸¸.•*¨*Phoenix¨*•♫♪ ☾

    The magical power of D&D to draw together people who knew things. Who cared about questions that didn’t seem to matter. The year is 1986. A group of teenagers spend their time playing D&D and (in the case of the protagonist, Nick), battling against cancer. Little do they know that everything will change for them after the arrival of a new party member (a girl!), and the appearance of a mysterious figure who seems somehow connected to her... and to all of them. I picked up this one because The magical power of D&D to draw together people who knew things. Who cared about questions that didn’t seem to matter. The year is 1986. A group of teenagers spend their time playing D&D and (in the case of the protagonist, Nick), battling against cancer. Little do they know that everything will change for them after the arrival of a new party member (a girl!), and the appearance of a mysterious figure who seems somehow connected to her... and to all of them. I picked up this one because I received an arc of the second book in the series. I am glad I did, because I enjoyed this more than I expected. There is just something in that 80s setting, the nerdy protagonists, the D&D chapters, that gave me an undeniable Stranger Things vibe, and I LOVE Stranger Things. I don't want to give up anything about the plot, because I want this review to be 100% spoiler-free, but some of the author's ideas are just my cup of tea, and kept me interested in this book even though it definitely has a young adult vibe. Unfortunately, some of them are just that, ideas, and I found myself wishing more than once that the author would elaborate more on the plot knots: it gave me the impression, sometimes, that giving the potential it has this book could be much more than it is. It still remains a very entertaining book, and even though sometimes I felt it was a little incoherent, in my opinion it has a nice plot, a humorous writing style and that British touch that gives it an undeniable charm.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anton

    Update. Just re-read the ending. Bumping my rating one star up. Excellent plotting and great riff off D&D themes. My favourite book from Mark Lawrence. Can’t wait for Limited Wish! *** Great story! Stranger Things meets Dark Matter. Would definitely appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman as well. Warning: if you are aged 15 —> 20 it may blow your mind 😂 It would have blown mine for sure! It would make an awesome movie or TV series too. Give it a go ;)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane Kelsey

    In the winter of 1986, Nick Hayes is 15 years old and find out he has cancer, but things don’t end here because stranger things are happening. Not only having to cope with the reality of his diagnosis, but Nick and his D&D friends have to find a way to solve an impossible mystery and save the girl. I honestly don’t even know where to start from because this book is so wholesome and sweet and funny. I had a fabulous time reading this and have felt sadness, anger, happiness, laughter all whilst In the winter of 1986, Nick Hayes is 15 years old and find out he has cancer, but things don’t end here because stranger things are happening. Not only having to cope with the reality of his diagnosis, but Nick and his D&D friends have to find a way to solve an impossible mystery and save the girl. I honestly don’t even know where to start from because this book is so wholesome and sweet and funny. I had a fabulous time reading this and have felt sadness, anger, happiness, laughter all whilst reading One word kill. Nick has a lot to deal with giving his cancer diagnosis, but what I liked about him that he has the resilience and the capacity to continue to laugh and enjoy life. John, Simon, Elton and Nick’s friendship is was so pure, and when Mia joins their little D&D group things do chance, but the direction in which it went it was so adorable and sweet; needless to say, made me think that I missed out on D&D and maybe I should rectify that. The plot was entertaining and kept me on my toes the whole time. The writing is recognisable as Mark Lawrence… dark, gritty and full of dark humour. The storyline although easy to follow, it had complex elements of physics and mathematics that should’ve confused my brain, but it was very easy to follow and understand even for the uninitiated like me. I absolutely loved the blend of fantastical and SF elements in this novel and I cannot wait for the sequel: Limited wish due for release on the 6th of June 2019. This year sounds like an amazing year to me already! One word kill is described as Ready Player One meets Stranger things and I totally agree but do not let that fool you – it’s mainly a guide because One word kill is it’s own beast. There have been many years since I felt so many emotions when reading a book and I devoured this in a few days. 4h 14min of reading time and I am left with so many feels and things to think about. I loved everything about his book. RECOMMEND IT

  28. 4 out of 5

    The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).

    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress... There are some books that when you have finished reading them you need to take a step back and reflect upon the story that you’ve just finished, One Word Kill is one such book, I loved it all and it is exceptional in every way. One Word Kill is set in January 1986. Nick Hayes is a fifteen-year-old mathematical genius who finds out that he is dying. Then, he has a mystery to solve, an As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress... There are some books that when you have finished reading them you need to take a step back and reflect upon the story that you’ve just finished, One Word Kill is one such book, I loved it all and it is exceptional in every way. One Word Kill is set in January 1986. Nick Hayes is a fifteen-year-old mathematical genius who finds out that he is dying. Then, he has a mystery to solve, an impossible mystery that shouldn’t be but, somehow it is and to top things off real-life events are starting to mirror those from in his D&D game. Nick finding out that he is dying isn’t a spoiler, it is written in the blurb and knowing it doesn’t lessen the impact on you when Nick’s diagnosis is revealed to both you as the reader and Nick at the same time. The diagnosis is something that immediately draws you towards the character before you even get to know who, as a person Nick really is and, in one word, the first page of One Word Kill is impactful. Due to Nick’s love of mathematics and the theory involved behind the mystery, there is quite a lot of science involved in One Word Kill and it is rather high-end science, physics, branching timelines, quantum mechanics, the multiverse, the infinite-worlds theory and the like. However, it is never confusing. I will admit that at times you do have to pay attention to the terms and their descriptions and it is complex but it’s never overly confusing and doesn’t leave you scratching your head. The science involved is integral to the story and Lawrence writes in such a way that it is all really interesting. To go with his love of mathematics Nick’s other love is D&D (dungeons and dragons). Nick’s life revolves around school and D&D and each week Nick and his group of friends (Elton who is into kung-fu, Simon, John who is the popular kid who doesn’t admit in school that he plays D&D with the nerds and finally, the new member of their group, the goth girl Mia) play D&D, using it to escape from life and reality into the realm of the fantastical. Now, I’ve never played D&D before but I loved reading about the group playing their game. I felt that I was sat around the gaming table with them and I was transported along as they adventured and quested their way across the imaginary table-top fantasy land (Lawrence is a fantasy author and that really shines through in his writing when he is depicting and describing the creatures and events in D&D). Along with school life and going to the weekly D&D get-togethers Nick also has to contend with weekly chemotherapy sessions. Nick’s diagnosis doesn’t define him, it’s part of him. A part that has been dealt by a cruel world and one that he didn’t ask for but a part nonetheless and one that he won’t fold under. When Nick is in chemotherapy it is grounding, he is away from the imaginary world of D&D, there’s no escape, he is laid bare and it brings home his illness and what he is going through. The characters in One Word Kill feel real and they come to life on the pages. Not just Nick who is the main character but all of the characters from Nick through to the secondary characters through to the very minor characters with little page time too. There’s a part in One Word Kill about half-way through where Nick finally acknowledges how he is feeling. It is only an innocuous and throwaway comment around the D&D table between him and his group of friends but it is a moment that breaks your heart just a little. It shows the power of the writer and the bond that Lawrence has created between the character of Nick and the reader. The school bullies and the maniac in One Word Kill are menacing and written in such a way that you really get a sense of how threatening they are and how dangerous and deadly an encounter with them could be. Then there is Eva, the weekly chemotherapy sessions that Nick has to endure are where he meets her. Eva is a fellow patient also receiving chemotherapy and she is very talkative, babbling away to Nick who, at first finds her annoying, then she isn’t as Nick realises that she is a fellow patient just trying to cope and deal with her diagnosis like he is. To the reader even with her limited page time, Eva is endearing and she will tug on your heartstrings. One Word Kill is Nick’s tale, told from his first-person perspective but his group of friends are all fully-realised with their own personalities. It’s contrary on my part but as much as One Word Kill is about Nick, it is about his group of friends too as they help form the core of the book and, for the most, they are there side by side with Nick. I really liked the group of friends and found them and their dynamic to be a cross between younger teenage versions of the group from The Big Bang Theory (more so Nick than the others with his intellect and to a lesser extent Simon too) and Adam Goldberg and his group of friends from The Goldbergs only far less wimpy, grittier and with more mettle. Just nerdy teenagers doing teenage things, sharing banter and jokes, trying to get by, playing D&D, not knowing how to talk to girls, trying to figure out who they are, generally being awkward and avoiding the school bullies. At just over 200 pages One Word Kill is only a small book but it is a remarkable book that is full of feeling packing an emotional punch and a hell of a lot into its short length. Lawrence is a master of description, whether it is the fantasy settings of the D&D table, the parks and tower blocks of London or something as simple as him describing the cold night and frost starting to appear on parked cars. The 1980’s setting is well described with references to Back to the Future, The Terminator, the Commodore 64 computer and my personal favourite for nostalgia, one of the characters uses a saying from The A-team! Lawrence’s writing is emotive, full of meaning and poetic with the occasional glimpse of humour thrown in for good measure, a little light in the darkness and it all makes for an effortless read. There’s plenty of room for both characterisation and storytelling and the pace moves along throughout with the momentum building as you near the finale of the book. One Word Kill is like an ocean, there are hidden and unseen depths beneath the surface waiting to be discovered. It is something more than words, it is something deeper and it is a meaning that can be found through reading the book. Nick is a character that makes you care and One Word Kill a story about who you are as a person, how you act on the chances and choices that you are given, how you face what life throws at you and how you deal with adversity. Come to the end of One Word Kill and Lawrence gives the reader a bittersweet ending and one that leaves a lasting impression. It’s not entirely dark though and with the very last sentence, I found myself nodding and smiling away. Words have a power to them, put them together you form sentences, paragraphs, pages and a story. In the right hands that power can multiply and resonate, Lawrence is the right hands and One Word Kill has that power.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ChopinFC

    One Word Kill is a perfect example that great things come in small packages! Mark Lawrence does not fail to impress me, with his range, his imagination and now showcasing his sensible side in this wonderful saga of a group of teenager friends going through tough shit together! As every other reviewer has said, this book has a 'Stranger Things' vibe (Netflix series) with crazy additives, including time-travel, a lonely and affable boy fighting cancer, a group of best friends who find escapism in p One Word Kill is a perfect example that great things come in small packages! Mark Lawrence does not fail to impress me, with his range, his imagination and now showcasing his sensible side in this wonderful saga of a group of teenager friends going through tough shit together! As every other reviewer has said, this book has a 'Stranger Things' vibe (Netflix series) with crazy additives, including time-travel, a lonely and affable boy fighting cancer, a group of best friends who find escapism in playing 'Dungeons and Dragons'. Lawrence come up with ingenious story plots and unforgetable characters that will make you root for each one of these unpopular kids. They fight bullies in real life, and monsters and dragons in D&D. It is yet the fight of their lives that will leave you yearning for more. Right from the first page, Lawrence shows his brilliance with a reveal that will later come to fruition and connect many of the odd dots. One Word Kill is a fantastic read with great characters and unique background and along with memorable characters that gave me a strong 'E.T.' and Stranger things nostalgia. Another stellar entry from a multi-talented author! 4 1/2 Stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Review coming soon.

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