When browsing /r/fantasy earlier this year, I saw a deal on a book by Mark Lawrence, known for his ‘grimdark’ fantasy writing. This wasn’t one of those, though. It was a sci-fi thriller with time travel, and the first book was free via Kindle. I’d read some of his fantasy work, and was curious. Also, I was trying out a scheme of adding ebooks to my reading schedule so that I’d maybe spend less time on Reddit on my phone. (Oh, that’s some good irony.)
Well, I’m here to tell you now that you should go grab the whole trilogy, called Impossible Times. It starts with One Word Kill. Mr. Lawrence has a PhD in Mathematics, and puts it to use in this story about a young math genius and D&D nerd in the 80s who 1) finds out he has leukemia, 2) is confronted with a time traveler from the future who has a lot to tell the kid about his future. The first book, especially, feels very Stranger Things-esque. (I mean that as a compliment.) The series progresses quickly from there, though, rather than covering every year of the young cast’s lives. The stories also are—thankfully—not grimdark. There are certainly some real-life kind of moments that punch you right in the gut, but the many genuinely likeable characters and relatively clear lines drawn between "good" and "bad" avoid the emotional slog that grimdark can sometimes be. Plus, aside from perhaps the time-travel paradox stuff, these are a fairly comfortable read. Grab ‘em now, get hooked, have ‘em finished in a jiffy.
Read if you enjoy time travel, Stranger Things, Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, D&D references.