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Lock In (Narrated by Wil Wheaton) by John Scalzi (2015-10-27) Audible – 1656
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The world created for the background to the mystery explores the possible implication for a disease that doesn't kill but rater with technological aid created a new category of human (maybe). It brings to mind the deaf parents who do not want their children or themselves "cured" of their disabilities. Scalzi leaves this discussion ambiguous rather promote his own view -- the reader is lead to consider it but is not offered a resolution.
The lead character is a little unusual in that he is a nice, bright young fellow. Somewhat innocent and seltered even for a victim of a devastating disease and not to mention heir to a fortune. Much more a fresh minted Peter Wimsey than a Mike Hammer or Phillip Marlowe type.
The work that went into this world and these characters begs foe a sequel or even a series.
The dialog, on the other hand, was hard for me to swallow. Having read a fair number of crime novels, I felt like the dialog was missing the gravity to suit the situations, and most of the characters spoke in minor variations of the same voice – one that reminded me of a sarcastic teenager. That was the case with Redshirts, too, but it felt appropriate for a satirical Star Trek spin-off. For a crime novel... I could have done with more depth of character and more realistic, adult dialog.
I also didn't find the sequence of their investigation believable. I felt that it took much too long for the investigators to ask the most obvious question – who is the victim? What can we find out about him? While they do eventually pursue that thread, it just took an unusually long time for them to ask the first question that's usually asked at the scene of a crime.
The choice to make the main character a rich kid was also curious. I can appreciate Scalzi's choice to create unlikely heroes, but he didn't give his main character any inner turmoil. This could have been explored while also explaining why this rich and famous young man chose to pursue a career in law enforcement. He could have also explored the hardships that went into achieving that goal. But instead we got a main character with a perfectly healthy psychology who lives an extremely comfortable and convenient life. Which is... a touch too boring for my taste.
In sum: Worth reading if you enjoy sci-fi concepts and can forgive (or perhaps can enjoy) superficial characters and dialog.
I’ve read some of John Scalzi’s stuff before: Redshirts, Old Man’s War, Miniatures, and Collapsing Empire. You don’t need to have read any of that in order to appreciate this book, though. as Lock In is the first book in a series. I tried it out because (1) it’s pretty popular, (2) I liked those other books I read by the author and (3) there’s a sequel coming out next month so I figured now’s as good a time as any to read it. From my admittedly limited experience with his work, Scalzi books tend to be heavy on dialogue, fast-paced, easy-to-read, and fun, with a slightly goofy “middle age liberal white guy” sense of humor. Lock In does not significantly deviate from that style.Scalzi is a master world builder: he sets up this future world quickly and gets the plot moving, without getting bogged down in info-dump after info-dump that slow down the narrative. With its propulsive plot and heavy emphasis on dialogue, it actually felt like I was reading the first season of a very solid new Alien Nation-like television show (without aliens). The book has Good Things to say about how it feels not-being part of the majority group and the importance of minority groups having their own communities. It provided me some insight into the mind-set of people that are deaf or blind who would choose to remain deaf or blind if there were a “fix” for those things. Those looking for a progressive-oriented, Crichton-ey, page-turning thriller should give this a read.
I really liked this book, but I didn’t love it. That’s probably more a function of my own expectations. I thought it would be a little more amusing, like the other books I’ve read by Scalzi. This novel is a little more serious despite being at around the same “reader level” as those other works. It also felt, in some areas, more on-the-nose with regards to social issues. I agree with the author’s arguments, but I would have appreciated them more had they been a little less heavy-handed and a little more subtle. Perhaps, though, that’s just the nature of the First Person POV beast: access to the thoughts of a character are just going to result in more direct statements and don’t provide as much opportunity for subtlety.
Ultimately, this book is a solid read that fans of near-future thrillers should certainly try out.