Book Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

I did it!  I finally read something else by Mark Lawrence!  Don’t ask why it took so long.  I don’t have a good answer for you.

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Blurb (from GoodReads): 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.

I don’t know how I feel about this blurb… I picked this up free as part of Kindle’s First Reads program.  The selling point for me was the author.  For some authors, it just doesn’t matter what they write, you’ll read it anyway.  And despite the lack of Lawrence books in my read pile- I admire him as an author and as a person.  He was one of the first authors I followed on both GoodReads and Twitter.  He’s always helping out other self pub’d authors, and just generally seems like a good guy.

Anyway- onto the book.  I’ll start by saying I have no idea how D&D is played.  I (now) know it involves dice and a game master and the occasional prop, but I had a hard time picturing everything else. Is there a game board?  Who writes the snippets everyone reads?  It was kind of neat but I spent a lot of time going: huh? what? why?  I think D&D fans will get a lot more out of this book than I did.

Onto the science- anytime quantum mechanics/physics/mathematics was brought up, I tuned out.  It’s so far beyond anything I’m able to twist my head around, I couldn’t even begin to fathom it.  Much like the D&D stuff, I think people who have some understanding of it, will get more out of this than I did.

One Word Kill is super dark.  Do not mistake the protagonists being teenagers to mean that this is a YA book.  I think it’s anything but, and a lot of the topics here are things I tend to avoid in my reading when the setting is not historical or fantastical (drugs, terminal illness, gangs).  The antagonist is deranged and any time he came up I found myself cringing/shivering/shuddering.

I adored the characters and their relationships with each other.  They feel like real (smart) every day teens, just trying to get through their day without losing their lunch money or embarrassing themselves.  I think I found Simon the most relatable- he’s introverted, smart and straightforward in his dealings, but there was something to love about the whole gang.  They all had their own struggles, and one refreshing thing was that the parents are all pretty supportive of their kids.

The plot is twisting and turning, amping up the crazy with every chapter.  I’m not going to say much about it- because it’s better experienced first hand.  But I will say I did feel like there were some plot holes here and there.  The book is super quick (200 pages) so it’s possible I needed to be reading more between the lines than I was, but I’m not entirely sure that was the case.  I almost wonder if the book could have used a few more pages to make everything really come together and feel complete.

That being said I was totally shattered by the ending, and it’s always good when a book can make me feel something.  I am curious to see what this is all leading toward, so I will definitely be continuing with the series!

One Word Kill can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

23 thoughts on “Book Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

  1. I haven’t read Mark Lawrence yet, but don’t tell anyone😉 I actually own two or three of his books, because I was determined to read something by him and I thought if the book is right there on my shelf, it would be easy! But honestly, I think I might start with this one. I don’t play D&D either but I’ve read enough books where the characters play it, I don’t think I’d get lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I do the same thing- buy books I’m determined to read and let them stare angrily at me while I ignore them.

      You should give it a go! This is a good start because it’s so quick. I will say I don’t think this is the best representation of his writing ability. It’s a little less poetic- but the story is entertaining.

      Like

  2. Same! Mark Lawrence is an author I’ve been dying to try and I can’t believe I haven’t read one of his books yet! I’m especially excited to start Red Sister because that is the series that sounds right up my alley, and I love the concept of magical assassin nuns. I probably would be as confused as you if I tried to read this because I have no clue about how to play D&D. Like.. zero. This was such a great review though, and congrats on reading something by Mark Lawrence–that’s been a goal of mine for a long time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Caitlin! I had started Red Sister awhile ago but put it down because I was unsure about some of the content.

      I hope to pick it up again someday because everyone loves it so much. I hope you love it too when you get around to it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read any Mark Lawrence either — this is honestly the first book of his that I am aware of being interested in. (If there are others, I was struck by the title or plot and didn’t remember who the author was.) The D&D aspect is what drew me in to this one. I played in my teens and early 20’s, and miss it. (As to gameplay mechanics, there is usually not a game board, though some groups use miniature figurines to show spacial locations for fights. The snippets people are reading could be written by whoever wrote the game module, or they could be things that the players are saying in character. Without reading the specifics it’s hard to be sure. One of my favorite ways to describe D&D to non-gamers is that it’s like a group of people telling a story together. One person (the GM) creates the plot and setting, and the others (the players) create the main characters.)

    Thanks for the darkness warning. It doesn’t change my desire to read it, but it’s a nice tip to have going in.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s published by Amazon’s publishing company: 47North. They usually only take on established authors with a loyal fan base so if you want a hard copy you probably have to go through Amazon. I don’t often see their books in stores (and why would they put their books in stores when they can hoard the profits for themselves). On the bright side- I have a feeling the authors themselves make more money that way.

        Like

      • Ah, that makes sense. I don’t need the hard copy, just wanted to support the brick & mortar store. If it’s only available on Amazon anyway, I’ll just buy it for my Kindle.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark Lawrence is an author I have seen around, but if anything I think I should get my friends to explain D&D to me before I pick this up! Is it bad that I’m kind of obsessed with dark books? I don’t post about them as they aren’t really fitting to the YA category, but I like the sound of this one! Thank you for the review!
    -Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really like the premise of this book and the Stranger Things comparison doesn’t hurt!

    however D&D is alien to me and I’ve never understood how it’s fun if you have to make up the story yourselves? wouldn’t there be people going ‘uh…uh…let me think’ for ten minutes and that would kill the momentum? hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

    • What I gathered from the book is that the players prepare their parts of the game in advance. What I don’t understand is how it’s supposed to be a challenge in any way…

      I don’t watch Stranger Things, so I can’t really compare, but I can see where the vibes might be similar?

      Liked by 1 person

      • the Stranger Things comparison was because it’s set in the 80s about a group of boys who play D&D and then one token girl comes along and joins the group 🙂 the actual plot doesn’t seem anything alike, I’m not getting a vibe about monsters in this one, lol

        say WHAT. um…I’m not gonna knock the game as I have no personal experience and it was popular for ages so there must be something to it, but…that sounds as exciting as watching paint dry, tbh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah sounds like you got it about right regarding Stranger Things! I just know I dislike when something is sold to me a certain way and then isn’t like that at all.

        The D&D parts aren’t too bad, but I do think people who play it will get a little more out of it than us non-D&Ders.

        Liked by 1 person

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