Audio Book Review: Lock In (and novella Locked In) by John Scalzi

I read Lock In by John Scalzi via audible. This was my first Scalzi read and I was not disappointed. It is a well written, well researched, and well crafted story. I also really enjoyed listening to Wil Wheaton who narrated the story.

lock in

Summary from GoodReads:

A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome”, rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Scalzi’s Lock In, that it is hard to pick a place to start. The premise of the book is based on a mutating virus which produces something other than zombies. People who are locked into their bodies unable to move or express themselves in any meaningful way as the result of contracting Haden’s. The locked in people are eventually given a way to roam the world, through the use of personal vehicles that look like C-3POs, called Threeps. How awesomely nerdy is that?! What I also really enjoyed was how detailed the story behind the Haden’s Syndrome was. It is explained enough in Lock In to further the story, but if you are a science nerd then read the novella Locked In which goes into even more detail on the growth and mutation of a completely made up disease!

The murder mystery aspect was well plotted and paced. The way that people interacted, the investigator’s relationships, the interviews, and the progress of solving the case is all influenced how everyone’s relationship to the disease. Shane and Vann are both deeply affected by Haden’s Syndrome and their vantage points drive their interactions with each other, drive their investigation, and drives the story forward as their backgrounds come to light and they start to reveal to each other what motivates them individually. How everything plays out with the mystery kept me guessing until the very end, though I did have a stray thought at the beginning that actually bore some fruit which was exciting. I love reading smart mysteries and being able to keep pace with the author.

Wil Wheaton did a good job as narrator. While he does not even attempt to do voices, he does manage to keep the interest of the listener with tone, inflection, and enthusiasm. There are actually two versions of the eadiobook Lock In. Amber Benson reads the other one. I listened to the preview of her reading it and could not tell that there is a difference in the actually story line, so opted not to repurchase and reread the book just because I really like Amber Benson too and felt I was caught between a nerdy rock and a hard place. Maybe someday if I ever want to reread the book and see if I catch anything I missed the first time I’ll get Benson’s version.

Scalzi creates a believable, interesting, and ultimately thought provoking world centered on a disease that has inflitrated how the world views technolgy, health care, and a budgeting crisis. If you enjoy well written narratives about the twisting paths of a murder mystery, check out Lock In.

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2 thoughts on “Audio Book Review: Lock In (and novella Locked In) by John Scalzi

  1. Pingback: Book Review Week | Absurdly Nerdly

  2. Pingback: Time is Running to Nominate for Hugos | J. C. Conway

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