One Word Kill- Mark Lawrence

Published By 47 North

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

This week I’m reviewing a book that I was originally very excited to read. From what I’d heard about One Word Kill I was intrigued, as I always am, by hints of time travel and the prospect of a unique perspective on themes we’ve heard about a lot. Within the novel, I did find everything I had hoped for but was unfortunately not as deeply in love with it as I had wanted to be, or as I have been with some of the other books I have read recently.

The main character, and narrator of the story, is a fifteen year old boy named Nick Hayes in 1986 who has recently been diagnosed with leukaemia, which is particularly devastating for his family as the same thing had not long ago, killed his father. Every Saturday Nick plays Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, and more recently, a girl called Mia, who he he soon develops a crush on. Among the numerous things I enjoyed about the book, one of the most prominent is the careful, and well-thought out characterisation of his group of friends, and the way they each react differently to the news of Nick’s cancer.

The story seems, for a little while, like a casual and funny coming of age story of a young maths genius finding his way through living with cancer until it takes a swift turn into something infinitely more. The book dabbles in time travel and the theory of infinite worlds, guiding Nick through a new found love of quantum physics, that not only progresses the story but helps him to deal with both the emotional and physical pain he endures. I think that using Nick’s love of science and mathematics as a way to express metaphors about time and the impact of death was clever and intriguing at first, but I struggled to keep up.

I found myself getting, unfortunately so, a little bored, and though I tried, had trouble wanting to read as much as I often do. I loved the concepts expressed but was disappointed in my distinct ability to put One Word Kill down, and wished it had been able to keep me just a little more interested. Despite my disappointment in some aspects, I loved the style of narration and the use of Nick’s perspective to add a more humorous, youthful tone to subjects people may struggle with.

Overall, I had high expectations of this book that it never quite reached, but I think it was intelligent, well-written and had a completely new way to look at some very old ideas. It’s a book I would absolutely recommend to friends and to anyone interested in seeing the world in a way you hadn’t previously ever thought to imagine.