Lock In by John Scalzi
Publication Date: August 26, 2014 (first published August 14, 2014)
Edition: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Science fiction, Mystery, Crime
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 book was great! It what at all what I expected going in though. Based on what I had heard about Scalzi and the synopsis of the book, I was expecting pretty much a straight sic-fi book, with a little mystery in it for plot. Instead, I got this awesome science-fiction murder/crime/mystery novel.
The relationship between Shane and Vann is your typical young guy becoming the partner of the old willy vet. Don’t let sound bad though, Sclazi does it great. Chris Shane is a great young protagonist, very intelligent, with a great sense of humor and sarcasm. Vann is the old vet on the force, who has some dark history that we don’t know about, always testing Chris since he is new on the job. The relationship between the two is solid.
The actually mystery itself was very good. The beginning left really scratching my head, but about midway though I figured it out. I was a little upset that I had thought I had already figured it out, afraid it might ruin the end for me, but I was way off. My prediction was right, but when the final “catching the and guy” scene came, great twist I did not see coming.
Of course, the science-fiction aspect of the was the best, which is called Haden’s syndrome. Haden’s led to people becoming “Locked in”. I liked to think of it as someone who is in a coma, but fully aware of everything that is going around them. They can’t move, talk, or open their eyes (looks like their sleeping), but still are still fully alert, feel pain, and can think. Because they can’t move or talk though, they cannot communicate to people. That is where the Intergraots come. They are people who had Haden’s, but did not get locked in. Since they still had Haden’s though, their brains also got changed. And now people who are “locked in” can basically put their minds into Inergratots and use their body to walk, talk, eat, and communicate with the world. Locked in people called use these robot machines called “threeps” to get around as well.
All in all, first story I’ve read by John Scalzi and it most definitely will not be my last. This was a book that if I and the time, I would have sat down, lost track of time and read it in one day.