by John Scalzi
Series: Lock In #1
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Length: 10 hrs
Genres: Science Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups
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.
Do you ever start reading or listening to a book and almost immediately slip into the world and realize you are about to take an epic journey? That was my experience with the audio version of Lock In, the first book in the Lock In series by John Scalzi and narrated by Wil Wheaton. Lock In is a brilliantly told mystery crime thriller set in a futuristic science fiction world. The geek in me was completely giddy! The world was fascinating, frighteningly realistic and friggin cool my friends.
In the not so far off future, the world is struck with a virus. Yeah, yeah I know you are rolling your eyes saying, “Been there, done that.” Hang on..because this isn’t about the virus, and folks there are no zombies. Well, at least not of the flesh-eating variety. Most folks who developed the virus suffered flu-like symptoms, and many died. For one percent of the population, nearly five million people in the US alone the virus caused “Lock In.” Lock In is a frightening side effect of the virus and appears to be permanent. The victim is fully aware but unable to respond to any stimulus. Imagine being conscious but unable to open your eyes, talk, eat. That is a large chunk of people locked in and no social or ethnic class was immune. It affected young and old.
Lock In begins its story almost a quarter of a century after the virus, that is now known as Hayden’s Syndrome, changed the world. We meet rookie FBI agent Chris Shane on the first day of his job. He is partnered with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two are assigned to a murder that took place at the Watergate Hotel. Science fiction geeks will love the technology, jobs, and abilities of this future world. For the non-geeks, prepare to get your Geek on! Scalzi describes this world, the technology and the changes brilliantly in layman terms without making your brain melt. The tale that unfolds is a murder mystery and has an old school meets technology vibe. Lock In isn’t a procedural crime novel, it’s a whodunit novel, and Chris Shane, sleuth extraordinaire is our future Sherlock Holmes.
Lock In combined two genres that rock for me; science fiction and crime thrillers. This was genre blending nirvana for me as the reader/listener. It reads like Mira Grant’s zombie novels; smooth, easy to slip into and yet has the complexities of the brilliant world in the Others series by Anne Bishop. Yes, peeps I invoked the names of two of my favorite authors, and Scalzi is worthy to sit among them. The world building is spectacular and the murder mystery is complex It was well thought out with twists and turns that kept me guessing.
The audio version of Lock In is available with your choice of narrator Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson. Wheaton did an excellent job of presenting to us the character of Chris Shane. I felt his mannerisms, tones, and quirks. He created Chris just as I imagined him. Chris Shane is cool, sometimes funny; even though that is not his intent. He is brilliant, a natural sleuth and often is very literal. I cannot wait to go on more cases with him and his snarky, somewhat broken partner.
Audible’s audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast. I found the history of what occurred after the virus hit fascinating, and enjoyed listening to this bonus.
Lock In was brilliant and will undoubtedly make my top ten listens/reads for 2014.