Monday, December 15, 2014


Title: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Genres: Sci-fi, Mystery, Thriller
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


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....


Set in a future in which the result of a terrible disease has called for extremely advanced technology, Lock In is a gripping and suspense-laden novel. Chris Shane's first week as an FBI agent is unusually busy. Several murders, a research facility that is blown up, and a difficult, self-destructive partner are just the start of what he has to deal with.

Although this book has a wonderfully twisted and clever plot, the highly imaginative technological world in which it is set, truly elevates it above your average murder mystery. At first the technology seems almost incomprehensibly elaborate. Just a few chapters in, however, the author skillfully explains his world in the actions of the characters and the detail of the murder investigation.

The characters are realistic and fleshed out. Chris Shane, the main character, is your typical good guy. Not only is he determined to be an excellent FBI agent, he also cares about those he is supposed to protect.

Vann, Chris's drinking, smoking, sex-loving partner, has a troubled back story and, thus, a slightly twisted personality. Her strict work ethic combined with Chris's sense of duty, as well as his tolerance of her bad habits, makes for a good partnership. That both of them have a quirky sense of humor helps a great deal.

The bad guys in this equation are those who want to exploit a market that is supposed to help disabled people.

For a book that will appeal to readers of science fiction as well as to those who love a good, unpredictable, and suspense-laden murder mystery, I recommend Lock In as a must read.

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John Scalzi is best known for writing science fiction, including the New York Times bestseller "Redshirts," which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. He also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from personal finance to astronomy to film, was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. He enjoys pie, as should all right thinking people. You can get to his blog by typing the word "Whatever" into Google. No, seriously, try it.

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