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.
Read the blurb, how can someone not get excited about a book that promises so much. Dungeons and Dragons was in my life as a kid. I always wanted to be dungeon master but never got to do it. I also seemed to die really early in a game, usually stabbed in the back by a ‘friend.’ Still I enjoyed the playing and know how tight a group could be when playing. Girls playing D & D, well it must have changed since the 80’s because we had a few in our group. Ah memories, must get on with the review first.
When I read a book, I tend to go through loads of emotions, so judging a book at the end means going through my notes to try to find how I felt at the various stages. This book took no effort getting into, after the first page it had me by the ghoulies. (D&D reference -maybe). I instantly was a part of this small group, invested in them discovering the truth of the story. I found the hospital scenes and Nick’s attitude very realistic, bringing back memories from the past.
Each member of the group has their own personality to bring to the table, again just like D & D. Nicks the bright one, son of a mathematician who himself suffered cancer until … well you’ll find out. Nick’s also found out he has got Leukaemia, which gives him a different view on life. Simon, his best friend, is the quirky one. Very logical, possibly on the autistic spectrum. Elton’s the cool guy with a family to match. All into martial arts and fun. Johns the rich kid who has a very racist mum. He thinks he’s gods gift to women, yet he usually fails.
Mia is introduced to the group. She’s a rebel, whose family are a the periphery of the drug scene. She changes the dynamics of the group and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Nick. She brings a lighthearted less intense aura to the group which is good for all of them.
The books pace is good taking us through events with a slick storytelling style. Obviously written for the YA market, it’s a great story, plenty of plot changes and time travel thrown in for good measure. Yep, time travel but that’s all I’m giving away. You’ll have to read it.
Just because of the eighties backdrop I’ve seen it billed as Ready Player One meets Stranger Things with a touch of the Goonies thrown in. That’s a bit misleading as it stands on its own. It’s a really good read. The end is satisfying as it ties up the story, yet allows more stories to come. I hate books that never tie it up or leave you on a cliffhanger.
So a good read and recommended. I read it through Amazon Prime Firsts for free, so it may still be available there for nothing. Otherwise it’s worth the money.