I was sent this uncorrected proof through NetGalley, and Mark Lawrence, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I was actually sent it a week or two prior to One Work Kill’s release date, however life happened and I wasn’t able to read it until this week. I say life happened, I mean that I was knitting up a storm and I can’t read on the kindle and knit, no matter how many times I try (alas).
Mark Lawrence is the author of one of my favourite fantasy series, The Book of the Ancestor, and I was excited and a little dubious when he sent me the link to One Word Kill (mostly because I haven’t yet read (any of) his other series, and Book of the Ancestor was so damn good) but I did enjoy it, because and not in spite of it being a different branch of sci-fi to what I usually read.
Title: One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1)
Author: Mark Lawrence
Format: Advance Kindle copy through Netgalley, publication date April 1st (paperback, I got incredibly confused with the listed publication dates for various formats, so we’re going with the paperback)
This is time, maths, physics, the 80’s and Dungeons and Dragons. Nick is 15 years old, and has just been diagnosed with cancer. He is a logical, maths-genius, physics-for-fun kind who finds his time split between the oncology ward (with ever-talking Eva) and his group of friends, his D&D party (which has expanded to include 1 x female). Shortly after his first bout of chemo, Nick is able to voice that he is being followed – a strange-yet-familiar man who is concerned with Mia, their new D&D teammate. He come’s bearing a strange message: Mia is in danger, though she doesn’t know it yet, and she needs Nick’s help now.
First off, Nick is very logical, so the narrative sometimes feel like he just accepts things as true because his genius level brain has accepted that there is no alternative, no matter how weird. It’s basically a book of the quote “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbably, must be the book” from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. There were a few mathematical and physic…sy theories being banded around, but after a period of Nick telling you that it makes sense, he has to explain it to someone else and then it actually makes sense. Also, entertainingly, this is a world where only one of the Party has seen Back to the Future (I think) and that amuses me greatly. Anyway, sorry, got distracted by the emergence of cult classics in the book. You also don’t need to know anything about Dungeons and Dragons (which is good because all I know about it is gathered from Stranger Things on Netflix).
Plot wise, it was a bit wacky, but kinda made sense in a parallel world, sciency kind of way, rather than being completely out there. There is a knife wielding classmate to contend with, and a small matter of a ticking clock, which gave the story a bit of pace, but for the most part, Nick-as-narrator clearly enjoys spending time with the Party as the gameplay is always detailed and is like he has slipped completely into the fantasy world. I will confess that I spent about 10% towards the end waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I won’t spoil the entire book for you by telling you why.
I am not sure how I feel about this book overall, if I am perfectly honest. I liked Nick, he had a lot against him, and a lot of stuff going on, and he was always logical. Mia… I can’t work out if Mia annoyed me or not. It’s hard to explain – I liked Mia, but she seemed to just appear suddenly in Nick’s life, even though she was introduced at the start of the novel. I liked the plot, and it tied itself up reasonably well and I have absolutely no idea where ML is going with this series. I think part of my problem is that I straight up adored the Book of the Ancestor, and while I enjoyed OWK, I had to remind myself before and after reading not to compare.
-Kiss the girl-One Word Kill – Mark Lawrence
Good plot, logical characters, knife-wielding villain and makes-sense-science-stuff, so, all in all, a good read! I gave One Word Kill a 4*, because I did enjoy reading it. It’s been marketed as Ready Player One meets Stranger Things, and while I can’t vouch for the Ready Player One aspect, it does hit some of the Stranger Things vibes.