Author: John Scalzi
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: This was a fun, fast-paced thriller which explored interesting ethical dilemmas and fascinating new paths science might take.
Lock In occurs in a not-too-distant future in the aftermath of devastating virus. Most people who get the virus either die or survive with only flu-like symptoms, but some small percentage actually have their brain rewired by the virus. Most of them become “locked in”, still alive but unable to control their bodies. Technological advances allow those who are locked in to control robot-like personal transports or to borrow the bodies of “integrators”, people whose brains were rewired by the virus in a different way. When new FBI agent Chris Shane discovers a man apparently murdered by an integrator, he must determine if anyone else was using the integrator’s body and whether someone is using integrators’ abilities to get away with an even greater crime.
This book was exactly what I was looking for. Having recently finished some long, epic fantasy audiobooks, I loved that this was a short, fast-paced thriller. The story was almost constant action. However, plenty of time was also devoted to both the interesting new technologies we might come up with to help people who were locked in and the even more interesting ethical dilemmas those technologies might create. Enough time was spent on the science to make this seem like a believable future, without slowing the story down. Personally, this is exactly what I want from my sci-fi. It pushed the boundaries of current science in believable ways and addressed concerns that scientific advances might someday raise. I thought Wil Wheaton was a decent narrator (4/5 stars). He didn’t attempt female voices, but did a great job changing his tone to reflect the attitude and emotions of the speaker.
My copy of the audiobook also included a novella that reminded me very much of World War Z. It discussed the onset of the virus and the ways in which it shaped society using multiple perspectives narrated by a full cast. I loved it and thought it added a lot to the story. Parts of the novella, including advances in technology which made huge differences in the lives of those locked in, were very moving. The novella was a perfect follow-up to the story, fleshing out questions the story raised about the way technology was developed in response to the virus and the way those who were locked in interacted with and were viewed by others. Unlike World War Z, I didn’t mind not getting more details of the characters’ personal stories, because I’d already gotten a personal narrative in the main story.
The novel and novella complimented each other perfectly, making this both an exciting thriller and fantastic sci-fi.