One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence

OnewordIf you visit my blog you’ll know that Mark Lawrence is one of my favourite authors and so I’m very happy today to be reviewing One Word Kill as part of the tour organised by 47North.  Further details are below.

One Word Kill is a slight change of tack and see’s this author taking a sidestep into the world of science fiction.  This is a story involving time travel and friendship and is also something of a shout out to the 80s.

I will confess straight out that I know next to nothing about Dungeons & Dragons, I know – break out the pitchforks and roast me over a hot flame already.  I also admit that science fiction is not my ‘go to’ genre and on top of that, time travel can be a little bit hit or miss for me.  Basically, I guess this book had its work cut out and so I’m relieved to say that this was a very enjoyable read.

As the story sets out we meet Nick Hayes just as he discovers he has cancer.  Nick is a fairly regular fifteen year old, a little bit awkward, doesn’t know how to relate to his mum, thinks girls are from a different planet, has a small group of close friends, doesn’t really fall into the ‘in’ crowd but has no real grumbles as such.  He gets together with his friends at weekends to thrash out the latest stage of their D&D game and the biggest change to his world was the recent inclusion of a girl into their small circle – and then of course the shocking news of his illness.

Then other things start to happen.  Events in Nick’s everyday life seem to be mimicking things that occur within the D&D game he plays with his friends and on top of that a stranger seems to be stalking him.  Not to elaborate on the plot it seems that this stalker needs Nick and his friend’s help for a most unlikely rescue situation.  And, as if you needed more, at the same time it seems that Mia, the recent female addition to the crew, has caught the attention of, in my gran’s words, ‘a thoroughly bad sort’!

So this all comes together in a roiling mess of events that escalate into something crazy before eventually untangling themselves and rushing headlong at a conclusion.

What I thought was really good here – the friendships and banter were very well done.  Basically these are a bunch of nerdy teenagers who get together to geek out.  The language of games overcomes everything after all and the interactions and dialogue flow really well – for me, these characters felt real and behaved the way I would expect.

If you love the 80s you’ll love all the little shout outs and whilst I admit that I probably missed a few along the way part of the fun is spotting those things that resonate  personally.  I enjoyed that this story had a familiar feel, think Stranger Things and Back to the Future but also imagine hints of The Goonies and Stand By Me, yet,in spite of that, it was different from the norm in that, as you would imagine with the inclusion of a seriously ill main character, the story has a serious feel.  There is still that sense of camaraderie that you would anticipate but there’s also an element of sadness that you would expect to accompany such a serious issue.  But, before you become all doom and gloom – there is also hope thrown into the mix so bear that in mind too.

The science fiction elements – well, this is time travel, and I can go round and round in circles with the whys and wherefores.  I think the explanations here are done well, probably a little bit over my head in some respects – all the split, multiple timelines and quantum physics (yeah, straight over the top of this one’s noggin) but to be fair I don’t think there’s too much convoluted E=MC2 going on here so I’m sure most people will find this a fairly easy, maybe even ‘soft’ sci fi read.

In terms of criticisms.  The only thing I would mention, and I do tend to bang on about shorter stories – this feels like it could have used a little more padding.  This is a very quick page count and I appreciate that the brevity gives the story a snappy feel but at the same time it also left me feeling that the ending was a little bit rushed, there was a sense that some things slotted very conveniently into place at various points and also, occasionally a feeling of being ‘told’ rather than ‘shown’.

On the whole One Word Kill is a fast paced adventure, it is a story that compels you to turn the pages quickly to see what will happen next and put bluntly there’s never a dull moment.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Details of the other blogs taking part in this tour are below:

One Word Kill Blog Tour Poster .jpg

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31 Responses to “One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) by Mark Lawrence”

  1. Tammy

    I would love to read this, it does seem really different from his other books, but I’m glad it still worked for you.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, it’s very different and a quick read so you should give it a shot.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Paul's Picks

    I’ve got this one and will read it soon!

  3. Book Club Mom

    Glad you enjoyed trying a book outside your preferred genres! It’s hard for me to try that, but I do force myself. Have a great weekend!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, I do like to read SF but it’s not my go to so can be hit or miss.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Your description of the characters gave me some Stranger Things vibes as well, which means I’m quite curious about this book – and if it’s any comfort, I know absolutely *nothing* about Dungeons and Dragons, apart from knowing it exists… 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I know less than D&D than probably anybody! But,I don’t think it’s a hindrance when reading this. I liked this but think it could have been added toa little.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Greg

    I think the key here for me is the interactions felt real- that’s huge especially when throwing back to the 80’s. and speaking of, the throwback vibes sound great. Stranger Things/ Back to the Future type feels? Sign me up lol.

    I’ve had my eye on this one due to the D&D references, and this is the first reviews I’ve seen. Can’t wait to read it!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s very good tbh and the interactions are great – it’s like Lawrence is really channelling his own teenage years and I’m not certain it’s something I could get so spot on. I loved all the references too. I think my only real issue with this is that it felt like it could have been expanded, which is probably an odd thing to say but at just over 200 pages it felt a little rushed in parts. Otherwise a great sci fi read.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader)

    The synopsis gives me Stranger Things vibes, it sounds very interesting, great review! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – yes, the Stranger Things vibes are definitely real and there are plenty of fun 80s references.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I can’t wait to check this one out. I got it from Amazon as one of my Prime perks so it’s not a review book and is hence behind some of my other books that have priority, but I do hope I can get to it soon.

  8. bkfrgr

    Relieved to hear that knowing nothing about D&D doesn’t ruin enjoyment of this book because it sounds great! I look forward to reading it! 🙂

  9. waytoofantasy

    So glad to see positive things about this one, my husband preordered it and he doesn’t read a ton of books so I’m happy to tell him it’s getting good reviews!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ohh. I hope he likes it. What does he usually read??

      • waytoofantasy

        He likes Star Wars books, and he really loved Red Rising. He’s a fan of Harry Potter too, randomly, lol. 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        I think everyone must love HP – it’s actually a legal requirement – you go to prison if you don’t. 😀

  10. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    This seems delightfully lighthearted compared to his other books! And I have a hard time with time travel books too, so I’m glad to hear this worked for you! Can’t wait to get into it. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      There is an element of fun but the read is still quite dark in a number of ways, particularly the main character’s cancer diagnosis. But, yes, this isn’t the grimdark fantasy of MLs other series. Lynn 😄

  11. jessicabookworm

    Lynn, you had me at Back to the Future and The Goonies… 😀

  12. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom

    I’ve been seeing some positive hype for this one! Even though I am more of a 90s kid, I was born in the late 80s so I do understand most 80s references.

    I’ve never read a Mark Lawrence book… Do you recommend starting with any particular book or series?

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, it depends if you want fantasy of sci-fi. This is more sci-fi, very much has a Stranger Things vibe, a bit more serious because of the main pov being diagnosed with serious illness. From his fantasy, the Prince of Thorns series is very dark, a lot of people didn’t really like the main character Jorg, I loved that series I have to confess but I also admit it’s maybe not for everyone. Prince of Fools – that series is immense. Much more of an old school, swords and sorcery feel and two excellent main characters who I loved. It’s still got death and blood but not as grimdark as the first. Red Sister is receiving a lot of love – it’s about a young girl who basically receives assassins training from nuns. Grimdark in terms of the world but a great series. Went into a total sale pitch there didn’t I! I would probably start with Red Sister.
      Lynn 😀

      • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom

        Wow that was an in-depth analysis lol Thank you so much for all the intel! I’m going to have to pick up Red Sister soon and progress from there 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        Haha, yes, ahem! I hope you like it.
        Lynn 😀

  13. April : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence […]

  14. TTT : Wish you were there? | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The 80s.  I love reading books set in the 80s such as Ready Player One, or One Word Kill. […]

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