lock in by scalzi book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Lock In by John Scalzi was much better than I expected. In fact, it was a very good book. The audiobook I listened to was read by Wil Wheaton and he did an excellent job as the narrator as well. This book takes place in our not so distant future–about 30-35 years after a terrible calamity had struck.

The story starts about 25 years after the pandemic that eventually comes to be called the Hadens Syndrome. It started as a serious flu which was just as deadly as most others, only more virulent.  It also had a long gestation time; those sick and spreading it were not aware of doing so until it was too late. Some recovered like normal and others experienced a second stage of meningitis like symptoms. Of those that survived a small percentage suffered the lock in. Lock in was basically like being a conscious person stuck in a comatose body. No body movement, no eye blinking, nothing.

The name Hadens was attached to the disease after President Haden’s wife suffered through the lock in. The President initiated a full blown effort on finding ways to help the millions of people suffering from lock in. After about two years it really paid off. Those afflicted with lock in were fitted with neural nets that allowed them to send and receive input from different devices, and controllable robots were made to fill a need. Along with the robots, they had web based system that allowed them to communicate with each other.

Now to the present day–Chris Shane is starting his first day on the job as an FBI agent just as millions of Hadens are taking to the streets in protest over a bill that was passed cutting funding to a program that subsidized health care costs. Chris and his partner Leslie are part of the FBI Haden specialist team. Anytime a Haden is involved in a crime it falls into their jurisdiction since a Haden can be across state lines when actually committing the crime. Chris’ first crime scene is at a hotel where a loveseat was thrown from a window and a deadman and a Integrator are found in the room.

This is the start of a rollercoaster ride for Chris’ first week of work. He travels across the country to investigate and even spends some time on the Navajo reservation. There is a big conspiracy going on with a lot of money behind it. Not everything is as it seems and known ‘truths’ are needing to be questioned. Hadens appear to be behind the crimes, but who, how, and why are all tough questions to answer and they are running out of time.

I thought Lock In had a great storyline; it brought up a lot of issues around the treatment of minorities as well as how we all treat and view each other. The mystery was less of a who did it and more of a how was it done. I really liked the social commentary because it was so well blended in as part of the story. Great job by both John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.