Thursday, December 24, 2015

Audiobook Review: Lock In by John Scalzi

Title: Lock In
Written by: John Scalzi
Published: August 26, 2014 by Tor Books (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It's nothing you could have expected.

That is a very long synopsis. Are you still there? Good. But seriously despite it's length that really gives nothing away in terms of info about the book. It's right, "But "complicated" doesn't even begin to describe it." This was a super complex book.

One thing I liked about this book was the world. It was a really interesting near-future science fiction world. It's like a lot of dystopia where a virus has caused a percentage of the population to be affected with a disease that makes them different. Except instead of giving them superpowers, it has taken away their ability to do something, forcing them to use technology to succeed. It was kind of different spin on the usual kind of book I read. But it also made for a complex world with a lot of different technology at play here. And like a lot of Science Fiction novels it deals with humanity's relationship with technology. But as much as i enjoyed the world, at times I didn't really enjoy the world-building. It felt like a lot of info-dumping, a concept that I usually don't mind too much but here it was frustrating at times. I think maybe because I was listening to the audiobook. I usually prefer audiobooks to be more atmospheric and with the constant explanation of the world it felt like it took me out of the general plot of the book

A plot that I also enjoyed despite it not being as complex in certain ways as I expected. This book appears to be a bit of a tradition murder mystery. A main character who is an FBI agent trying to solve a crime is pretty standard fare but the inclusion of the technology made for an interesting addition. A lot of the plot dealt with the same themes as the world, humanity and their connection with technology which I really liked. But the actual mystery felt a bit like an afterthought or really just a vehicle for the larger plot. As a big fan of mysteries I was hoping for something solvable and complicated. But it was the kind of mystery where clues were revealed in an almost convenient way and it was the characters solving them not the reader. It was slightly Sherlockian in that the detective seemed to know things that allowed them to solve the mystery in a way that the average person wouldn't be able to. That's not bad, it's just not the kind of mystery that I usually enjoy. But on the whole the plot was engaging and interesting.

I also liked the characters a lot. They were really unique and diverse. I had heard that one of the interesting things about this book is that the gender of the main character is never specified. To further demonstrate that point, there are two different versions of the audiobook, one narrated by Wil Wheaton and one narrated by Amber Benson. I had every intention of listening to both audiobooks just as an experiment but I ended up just listening to the Wil Wheaton version.  But regardless, the concept was in the back of my mind and it made for unique and complex characters. But in general, Shane was likable and easy to root for. Like all good detectives, Shane was resourceful and dedicated to figuring out who was responsible. I also really like Agent Vann, Shane's partner who could have come off as the stereotypical burned out old cop but she didn't at all. She had a traumatic backstory however and I liked learning about it. I also liked Shane's family, including his former basketball player current politician father and his tech genius roommate who was like the tech equation of the detective team. Scalzi created characters in Lock In that were likable and complex.

On the whole, Lock In was an interesting and engaging read that I couldn't put down. It took so much less time to read this one than I expected. It had some really great science fictions elements including a world full of technology, an interesting mystery, and likable characters.

I give Lock In by John Scalzi 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Science Fiction. You love the world and themes of humanity interacting with technology. If you are looking for a complex mystery that you can solve then maybe pass on this one.

Have you read Lock In? what did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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