Book Review - Lock In by John Scalzi

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lock In by John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: 26 August 2014
Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery
My Copy: Library - hardback

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse...

This was a really weird book for me. I've been trying to expand my reading horizons because every once in awhile, I need something different to read. Chris Shane is a Haden, the name for people who are locked in.  He's a famous Haden due to his father's vast collection of accolades as well as being the public face of Hadens as normal people. He wants to be able to live on his own and gets a job as an FBI agent. Hadens live with their bodies in cradles at home while a computer installed in their brains allows them to virtually live inside what are essentially fancy robots. This makes them valuable in the law enforcement field because they can record and scan their surroundings for viewing later. On his first official day on the job, he meets his partner Agent Vann who has her own set of problems. Immediately, they have a murder to solve. At first it seems like a garden variety murder, but then several things start to come to light and nothing seems to add up. Both characters annoyed me at times. Agent Shane acted like a spoiled rich kid a few times, which is actually probably realistic, but annoying none the less. Agent Vann was moody and rude, but again you kind of understand why later in the book.

The story was kind of hard for me to get into at first. I didn't really understand what Agent Shane was walking around as which made it really difficult to visualize the story (I was thinking something like R2D2, and it was more like I, Robot). There is apparently a prequel novella that explains some of this, so you might want to read that first. Once I understood a little better (about a quarter of the way through the book), I really got into the book. There is so much going on in it. Scalzi did a great job of connecting all the dots and there are a lot. I was a little worried it would seem rushed at the end since I was really close to the end and there were still way too many loose ends, but it was all wrapped up and surprisingly didn't feel rushed to me. I thought the mystery aspect of this was very well put together.

I am not aware of a sequel planned for this, nor does the ending leave it to where there has to be one, but I would kind of like to see one. There are many more story lines available here and much about the Agora and the new circumstances for the Hadens that could still be evolved further. I did take away a star for it being hard to get into and understand at first. I almost gave up on it, but I'm glad I didn't. I highly recommend this book, but you should probably read the novella first!

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 5 stars
Pacing: 5 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Ending: 5 stars
Recommend: Yes!


Post a Comment

Thanks for any comments! I truly appreciate receiving them.

I reserve the right to remove any comments which I consider to be attacking another commenter's character or mine. I have no problem with debates and disagreements, but there is no reason to make personal attacks against another person for their views. I will also delete spam.