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



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.


Thanks to 47North and the author for an advanced reading copy of One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC via NetGalley did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

I’m sure most of you have seen the comparison of One Word Kill to Ready Player One meets Stranger Things, and to be quite honest, it lives up to the hype. For those that lived through the 80’s (which I am not one), the nostalgia alone should enrapture you, much the same way that Cline did in his debut. Having said that, RPO gripped me a little harder than did OWK because I grew up in the 90s where video games, IMHO, took precedence over tabletop games; at least where I’m from, anyways.

I know this was Lawrence’s science fiction debut and even though I have loved every single work he has produced, there was the tiny possibility that OWK was going to be a dud. You just never know how one of your favorite authors is going to handle writing a novel in a new genre, let alone not having a new world to build.

Suffice it to say, Mark handled his debut with panache, showing that he has the skills to pay the bills. One Word Kill has immense staying power for those of us who ponder upon those “back in the day” moments. I mean seriously… what can this man NOT do? I knew there would be characters I could instantaneously connect with, a world I could see through new eyes, and, more than likely, some mind-bending physics that I’d have to glance at twice before being able to wrap my head around things and move on.

Whether it is the Hawkins AV Club, the Losers Club, or the Goonies, you can add Nick and his D&D party to the list of gangs you wish you were apart of growing up. Or maybe they remind you of yourself and the group you hung around, giving you a grand sense of nostalgia and the want to go back in time; to relive all of those childhood memories.

Well, maybe you can?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ready Player One meets Stranger Things sounds really fun. Glad to hear it lived up to the hype

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David says:

      At this point, Lawrence can do no wrong.


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