Written by: Mark Lawrence @Mark__Lawrence
Published by: 47 North
“Ready Player One meets Stranger Things in this new novel by the bestselling author who George RR Martin describes as “an excellent writer.”
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.
I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons.
I think it might be the only arm of the Nerd special forces that I missed out on.
For some reason In Belfast in the 80’s & 90’s when I was growing up no one I knew played it.
To be honest I always had a sneaking suspicion I wasn’t smart enough for it. It always had a vaguely mathematic feel to it that turned me off I guess, ever since my P6 teacher in Primary School threatened to attach electrodes to my balls ( The 80’s were a VERY different time ) if I didn’t get a maths question right. Perhaps justifiably I’ve hated the subject ever since.
The second I picked up One Word Kill I wanted to play D&D.
The other thing it made me want to do was contact my friends from school – despite not even thinking about them for years.
Mark Lawrence captures the fierceness, the highs and the lows of teenage friendship perfectly in One Word Kill.
No friendship in your entire life burns as brightly as the ones you forge in your teenage years. Lawrence gets this across so strongly with Nick’s group, it gave me a real pang of nostalgia and a desire to re-connect with friends that I’ve long lost contact with.
I have zero idea of what life must be like to live with the possibility of a terminal disease as a teenager. I also have no grasp or understanding of Quantum Mechanics. For a little while, while reading this book, Lawrence made me believe that I did understand a little of both. He takes complicated themes, complicated emotions, breaks them down into digestible chunks and convinces you that you are smarter than you are. This takes an unbelievable amount of talent to distill information and empathy in this way without patronising or having plot elements fly over the readers head.
I grew up smack bang in the middle of the time period One Word Kill is set. Without beating you over the head with pop culture references and historical facts Lawrence manages to create a sense of time and place that is as much of a character as any of the teenagers that are seated round the D&D table in Simon’s bedroom.
A hell of a lot happens in One Word Kill and I’m not sure how it all fits in to a little just under 200 pages. Maybe Lawrence has perfected time travel and uses it to squeeze more into this book. It never feels rushed, even the D&D set pieces that I thought going in would be my least favourite part of the book had my full attention and are some of my favourite bits now.
Lets just say I’m glad that I don’t have to wait too long for the next installment. I listened to One Word Kill on audio while walking on lunch from work. As it ended I realised I had been standing for a full five minutes in the middle of the street with my jaw hanging open I was so engrossed. It has possibly the best ending line to any book I’ve ever read. Impossible Times parts two and three, Limited Wish and Dispel Illusion are both set to be published this year and I can’t wait.
One Word Kill is whip-smart sci-fi with a heart. Poignant, thrilling and utterly compelling.
Available on Kindle HERE
One Word Kill Is Available in Paperback HERE
The audible version of One Word Kill is available HERE