Book Review

Lock In by John Scalzi

“And also because I know if I’ve figured it out, someone else has too, because there’s always someone else smarter out there, who may not have ethics.”

Part science-fiction, part police procedural, 100% page-turning fun.

John Scalzi builds a new world in Lock In. It’s a world hit with a highly-contagious virus, but instead of the typical apocalyptic virus, 1% of those affected get “lock-in,” a condition where they are completely aware and conscious but are paralyzed and unable to respond to any stimulus. Over time, technology responds to the crisis, and companies develop neural networks that are implanted in brains. The neural networks allow the victims of lock-in to control “threeps” or androids that are separate from their own bodies. An even smaller percentage of the population develop the ability to act as “integrators” or those who are able to allow those with lock-in to take control of their bodies.

In this world, Chris Shane, a victim of lock-in, and Leslie Vann, a prior integrator, are FBI agents who investigate a murder involving an integrator, which adds a layer of complexity because it’s uncertain if that person is or isn’t in control of their own body. I was very confused during the first few chapters of the book, but as the book progressed, the narrative answered a lot of my questions about this new world. As the plot of the police procedural progressed, a new fictional world opened up to me.

I started this book with the Wil Wheaton version of the audiobook. Because it wasn’t moving fast enough, I devoured the rest of the physical book in one late-night reading session. Much of the book was devoted to building this new world, so I think the character development lacked a little. I loved the characters and dialogue though and look forward to seeing Chris Shane and Leslie Vann grow in future books. It felt like John Scalzi was setting the scene for many many books in the series, which I hope is true! The book also address a LOT of moral and societal issues — identity, disability, social welfare programs, hate crimes, and government funding. I can’t wait to read Head On, the next book in the Lock-In series as well as many more books by John Scalzi.

Also, I love that there are two versions of the audiobook, one with a female narrator and one with a male narrator. I thought that the main character was male because I started with the Wil Wheaton audiobook. I think would have thought Chris was female if I had listened to the Amber Benson version. But I wonder what I would have thought if I had started by reading the book? But in the end, it doesn’t really matter because Chris Shane is a strong character either way, which I guess is the point. 🙂

Rating: 7/10

Originally posted on Goodreads