Overview (No Spoilers):
After the revelations of The Girl and the Moon, along with the importance of the Hayes Gates, I couldn’t wait to pick up the Impossible Times trilogy as I’m hoping it will shed light on the backstory of a character who shows up throughout all of Lawrence’s worlds. One Word Kill deviates significantly from Lawrence’s other works both in setting and length, however the worldbuilding and character development are just as delightfully detailed as one would expect.
One Word Kill is set in the 90s and as someone who grew up between this decade and the next, the nostalgia is strong. The story focuses on Nick, who is highly intelligent, but coping with a cancer diagnosis, along with all the normal, wild emotions that comes with being a kid. Thankfully Nick has a fantastic group of friends who are nerdy, supportive, and loyal even when their lives take an unexpected detour into the realm of fantasy with the arrival of a stranger who knows things he shouldn’t.
There are bullies whose shadow looms large in One Word Kill, as they often do in the lives of the youth. The tormentors who Lawrence concocts have an extra edge of crazy that I’m thankful never mirrored the ones that I encountered. Though I suppose every bully has their own distinct flavor of terror.
Dungeons and Dragons plays a big role in One Word Kill. As someone who has never played this game, but read about it many, many times, Lawrence details the ins and outs better than any other book I’ve read. Perhaps, more importantly, he transports the reader into the decisions of the game, highlighting the pressing decisions the players have to make that prove significant when the lessons translate into the larger world.
Overall, One Word Kill is a very quick read that packs in enough edge of your seat suspense with ominous foreshadowing to keep you simultaneously guessing right up until the end while not wanting the story to end.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- How many times has Nick been caught up in this loop?
- The potential to accidentally deviate from the loop seems astronomically high?
- Did Eva ever recover?
- How did John’s dad handle the break in?
- Poor Elton. His family had already been through so much. Who is he going to marry?
- How is Nick going to create the Hayes Gates?
- Have we already met Taproot? At one point when John was talking it triggered some familiarity, but I feel like I’m off base there.