Reader’s Advisory: Book Reviews, “Lock In” by John Scalzi

lockinFifteen 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 themselvs “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….

 REVIEW 5 Stars YAY Adult dystopia! Developed characters! Awesome plot! Surprises! Science Fiction, Crime, & Science. A super flu hits the entire world by storm, killing a huge percent of the population, but no one expects what comes next– a second wave of the virus causes death to many, and for a select few complete physical paralysis. The story is set years later, humanity has learned much about how the brain works and created solutions- robotic “Threeps” which carry their hosts in the day to day activities, and a select few people who can act as hosts. One of these Threeps starts his first day at the FBI, with a crime which may or may not be the fault of the man found at the scene. He and his new partner must race to uncover how the crime was committed, and uncover a conspiracy they never expected.It was wonderful to read a recent Science Fiction novel cataloging a virus, without falling into the “zombie” trap. The characters are well developed, and the story line is complex enough that its not easy to guess what comes next. Loved the science, loved the story, loved that it was a crime novel instead of just a sci-fi novel which comments on what we’re doing wrong today. One of my first 5 stars in the genre in a long time.

Like other reviewers said, I’m not sure that I would have gotten as much out of it without the novella. It is also what pushed me to read the book in the first place.


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