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Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

One Work Kill

Title: One Word Kill
Series: Book 1 in the Impossible Times Series

Author: Mark Lawrence


Published: May 1st 2019
by 47North

Length: 201 pages


Thanks to NetGalley for providing the e-arc! This doesn’t affect my thoughts about this book.



I had some notes somewhere … I can’t find them anymore though. But luckily for you, this book is not something I could easily forget!

I loved every second of this! And that actually kind of surprised me.

But let’s start from the beginning. Even though I requested a copy from NetGalley I was hesitant about reading it. It’s Scifi and that’s not something I usually reach for, but Mark Lawrence wrote it … so, I just had to give this a try.

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.


If the synopsis didn’t already pull you in, let me tell you all the great things about this book. Prepare for some gushing!

As I already told you, I’m not really a sci-fi reader. But this was so interesting. I loved the quantum physics in this so much I went out and got myself some books on that topic (I was always interested in this and that gave me the final push!) It was so much fun to think through all the questions that arise when that mysterious man appears.

The characters are all so damn lovable. All of them.
Nick, the main character, is incredibly relatable in his struggles. He is a genius*, he is a geek, kind of awkward and loves playing D&D with his friends. *(Does that sound like I’m saying I’m a genius? … Because I’m most certainly not 😂)
He sees their D&D sessions as an escape from reality, which is one of the reasons he doesn’t tell his friend immediately that he has leukaemia.
The friendship dynamic between them is very intriguing to read about since they are all so different.

We have Nick, the genius but an awkward one. Simon, overweight, also some kind of genius, very introverted and reminded me a lot of other autistic characters (I have a soft spot for him!). Elton, the martial arts expert with a big and loving family. And finally John, the one you wouldn’t expect to be in this group and he still fits in perfectly. He is wealthy, good-looking, charming and popular.
I loved reading about them all together.


The moment Nick finally told his friends about his leukaemia broke my heart. I loved all of their reactions. Spot on for all of them, all so different and still they all showed how much they love Nick.

The portrayal of Nick’s illness was heartbreaking and so so good. I nearly tabbed all the book, but there are just so many beautiful, true and painful lines.

“Truth may often be the first casualty of war, but dignity is definitely the first casualty of disease.”
“It’s always a shock, when you’ve been hit by some calamity, to see the world go about its business with perfect indifference.”

And even though Nick wouldn’t think it at first, but Mia fits right in with their group. She shakes everything up a bit but it’s still the same tight fried group where everyone can be exactly how they are.

I never played D&D myself, although I want to try after reading this, and I still had a lot of fun reading about their sessions. It was expertly done how the real world and their fantasy one collided and merged into each other. I don’t want to say much more because I think the less you know the more you’ll love it. But just know that I loved how the choices they make really have consequences.


One Work Kill takes place in the ’80s and it felt perfect for the story. Everything flowed seamlessly and it gave the story a certain vibe which I appreciated very much.
The writing style was also very fitting. It mixed humour with this intensity that keeps you turning the pages.

If you know some of Mark Lawrence’s other books, you know that he usually writes grimdark fantasy. But he has no difficulty switching the writing style. While the story is not a grimdark fantasy it still has it’s dark and heart-wrenching moments. The antagonists are pretty fucked up and some scenes will definitely make you cry. But it’s always mixed with some light-hearted scenes.

Oh, and there is lot of scientific talk, but it’s good to understand and doesn’t stop the reading flow at all.

All in all, I’m amazed how much heart, pain, science and adventure Mark Lawrence managed to put into this 200 age book. It took me completely by surprise and weaselled its way into my heart without me even knowing. Next thing I knew I was preordering book 2.

5 thoughts on “Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

  1. I love science fiction, but I have never played D&D which is why this would probably be out of my comfort zone. But it sounds like it is nothing I should be worried about and I should try this book anyway because it is fantastic! I love the sound of the characters being so loveable and the good illness representation.


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