Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Thoughts- Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In by John Scalzi
published 8/26/14
320 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

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....

My thoughts -

Well. I know I've said before I'm a bit of a John Scalzi fangirl - I've pretty much loved everything of his I've read, I follow his blog, I think he's a smart guy AND an entertaining writer. So I'm pretty well predisposed to like this book.

That said, this was NOT my favorite of his work. I found his idea quite interesting - the subject of Lock In Syndrome is close to my heart, as my uncle has been suffering from ALS for 30 years, and has been locked in for at least half that time. I thought that creating a world in which this was almost the norm - where society has had to develop to accommodate people suffering from this syndrome - was a fascinating idea. As usual, his world building is fantastic, and his main characters nuanced and realistic.

So why did this one not hit a home run? The ending. I felt like there was so much forward momentum, and then the novel just ended. It felt rushed and abrupt, like there were chapters missing from the final pages. I can see this being the two-hour premier of a new series, where the point is to get people hooked on the characters and not necessarily care about the way the episode ends. I can only hope there are more books coming, because this felt really unsatisfying.

There is one thing Scalzi does in the novel that is REALLY cool - and I can't talk about it, because if you haven't read it I want you to go in without knowing like I did. I figured out what was going on about 1/3 of the way in, and it was a cool experience watching it play out until the end. My husband and I both had the same experience with it - and I want to know who else has read this book so I can talk to you about it!!

Anyway, not my favorite Scalzi, but let's be honest - even not my favorite Scalzi is more entertaining than a lot of other stuff. I wouldn't start here if you are new to the author, but it's worth reading for the ideas and cool thought-experiement stuff he has going on.

Finished - 9/21/14
Source - Audible.com
MPAA rating - R for language and violence
My rating - 3/4

This counts as my first book toward

LOTS of peril involved in this one!


bermudaonion said...

I can't believe I've never tried his work.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I've liked Scalzi as a dude for quite a while, but haven't read any of his books yet! I have Fuzzy Nation and The Android's Dream at my apartment, so I'll probably try one soon.

I know what the thing is! I read it somewhere! It sounds so cool! And I love that sci-fi writers recently have been doing such cool things with [redacted] -- it makes me really excited to see what comes next with sci-fi. :D

Literary Feline said...

I follow John Scalzi on Twitter and keep meaning to try his work. I think I have Redshirts at home somewhere . . .