The Word by JL George

JL George

PUBLICATION DATE: March 18, 2021

About the book

WINNER OF THE NEW WELSH WRITING AWARDS 2019: Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella

In a dystopian fortress Britain, four young people are exploited for their preternatural powers…

Rhydian is one of four teenagers born into his generation with the Word — a preternatural power that enables them to compel other people to obey anything they say. Along with his best friend Jonno, whom he’s also in love with, almost-grown-up Rachel, and Cadi, the baby of the group, he is studied and experimented on in a facility called the Centre. When they learn that the Centre’s purpose is to turn them into weapons of war, the teens attempt to escape, with tragic consequences.

The Word is a lean dystopian novella of just over 12,000 words which packs a mighty punch. Covering themes pertinent to the Coronavirus circumstances readers find themselves in today, the novella centres on language and power, and the attempt to find connection and maintain relationships in an institution that views people as resources to be exploited. It combines speculative elements with present-day realities, taking its inspiration partly from the growth in nationalism and populism we have seen in the past few years. However at the heart of The Word is the characters, their loves and losses and their attempts to keep hold of who they are in a dehumanising world. 

JL George is a writer who resides in South Wales.


"This is a brutal environment, where children who disobey are killed in cold blood. Whether it is a satire about the brutalities of war or a dystopia about a new religious cult, The Word is a fascinating read"

Cathryn Summerhayes, literary agent at Curtis Brown

“A pacey novella which balances big concepts such as ethics, language, propaganda and control with a human story of flight and finding love and trust where you can…”

Gwen Davies

"Has the vibe of a cult late 70s British sci-fi TV show – one of those clever, bleak, violent ones where you wonder how they slipped it past the higher ups. It explores its fantastical premise thoughtfully – ruminating on the ways in which language can be both a force for liberation and for oppression. Plus there is a charming will-they-won’t-they gay teen love triangle at the centre of it all anchoring its weighty themes."

Lloyd Markham, author of Bad Ideas\Chemicals