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

Published by 47North


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.

There’s so much I’d love to say about this short book, but I can’t find the words. Solid start from the book reviewer, right here.

The book plays on the same nostalgia that’s made Stranger Things such a cultural phenomenon and even shares some of the same themes, while somehow remaining totally distinct from one another.

It’s a group of intellectually gifted misfit teens from the 80s sharing their lives around the D&D table – with some alternate dimension/time travel/physics shenanigans mixed in.


Lawrence has taken the characters he’s written and turned them into something outstanding. The story is primarily about Nick, a 15year old boy who’s been delivered a possible death sentence in the form of leukemia, and the strange events that happen to him during the time span of his first round of chemo.

What I loved is that the cancer diagnosis wasn’t over or underplayed – the world didn’t stop turning for Nick while at the same time the author does describe the side effects of the chemo and the psychological aspects of what’s going on, for both Nick and his closest friends. It is what it is, no more and no less.

The characterisation of Nick and his friends is out of this world, they’re all totally distinct from one another and you get a real feel for them as people and the adults that they’ll grow up to be. They all face different challenges, some of the universal teenage angst as well as some more specific issues.

It’s the plot itself that I can’t find the words to describe – all I can say is that it appealed to my nerdy little heart and this is a book that’s earnt itself a print copy on my overstuffed bookshelf!

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