“The magical power of D&D to draw together people who knew things. Who cared about questions that didn’t seem to matter.”
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.
- 5 out of 5 stars
- Kindle Edition
- 201 pages
- Published May 1st 2019 by 47North
- Original Title One Word Kill
- Edition Language English
- Series Impossible Times #1
Quantum mechanics was clever stuff. Most of it danced to its own tune, but there was still enough fundamental mathematics underlying all the pretty manipulations to keep me interested.
There is a magic power associated with adolescence. It is a collection of moments where you step out of the warm and safe embrace of childhood and stick your toe in the cold waters of adulthood. It can be exhilarating. It can also be terrifying in equal and confusing parts — all newness of experiences and the rush of first-times.
Now throw in cancer into childhood. The big C. The silent lurking predator that ravages your body and soul while you attempt to survive while being stripped and flayed alive. Cancer is the stuff of nightmares for adults, but for children who have enough mental juggling going on, it is world changing. It is hard to talk about adolescence and cancer without going down the dark path of maudlin. But this story isn’t about swimming through the muck and mire of disease.
It could have been in lesser authorial hands, but it isn’t.
What this story is, is a nostalgic trip into childhood built with the strength and craft of someone who remembers what it was like. This is written by someone who knows the sweet and enduring pleasures of friendship, the fantastic wild fun of D&D, and the relationships those two can create. This story was an absolute treat to read.
One Word Kill starts like a lot of stories do with a boy and his friends. I’ll introduce his friends, but that’s it. All of Lawrence’s stories hold their own. They don’t need me to run down the plot, because that is no fun for anyone. Meet Nick, the narrator of the story, the protagonist in 1980’s London, newly diagnosed with leukemia, has a brilliant and advanced mind bent towards Quantum Theory. Simon, who can do mental computations in seconds. Elton, who can move like a spider and practices kung fu with his five brothers. John, the rich and cool kid that is written without stereotypes. And Mia. Mia is a smart, goth girl who is the heart of the story in so many ways. Friendships like these are what can make a person brilliant as an adult. Lawrence combines so much into such a short and excellent story. Cancer, adolescence, friendship, physics, D&D, time travel, and a charming love story. It has everything you would expect from Lawrence as a writer plus so much more you didn’t know he had in him. Lawrence, thank you for the nostalgia of my childhood growing up in the 1980s. Thank you for the friendship and these fascinating characters that I get to take with me. Thank you.
I received a copy of this via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.
About the Author
Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.
Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.
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