AudioFile Best Voices - Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Audio Theater, 2014
A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.
Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever, and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.
A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what's now known as "Haden's syndrome", rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" - someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.
But "complicated" doesn't begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery - and the real crime - is bigger than anyone could have imagined.
BONUS AUDIO: Audible's audio edition of Lock In contains the bonus novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, written by John Scalzi and narrated by a full cast.
"I love working with Audible, in no small part because they’re committed to doing what’s right, both for my books, and the people who listen to those books. There's a really excellent reason for Lock In to have two entirely different versions, so when it came time to make the audiobook, Audible did an ingenious thing: they asked both Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson to record entire versions of the book. As the author, I’m impressed with Audible’s commitment to my narrative - and I’m geeking out that both Wil and Amber are reading my book. This is fantastic." (John Scalzi)
2 editions. 2 narrators. 1 thrilling story. You can enjoy Amber Benson's narration here.
©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"Hugo-winner Scalzi successfully shifts away from space opera with this smart, thoughtful near-future thriller resonant with the themes of freedom, ethics, and corporate greed….This powerful novel will intrigue and entertain both fans and newcomers." (Publishers Weekly)
"The novel--which contains plenty of action, great character development, vivid and believable worldbuilding and a thought-provoking examination of disability culture and politics--is definitely worth the ride." (Kirkus)
"Another brilliant novel from a writer who has quickly become one of the genre’s most successful and intriguing practitioners." (Booklist)
"With narrator Wil Wheaton attacking Scalzi's text with both vigor and nuance, this story tells about a silent minority being given voice, then having that voice threatened.... Thanks to Wheaton's skillful efforts, this production is an enjoyable melding of narrator and material." (AudioFile)
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
1. The story is a crime solving procedural in a sci-fi setting, and both sides of that are very well done! If you don’t care for either of those genres this probably isn’t for you. If you like one more than the other and the plot sounds interesting then I’d say give it a go. Just don't go in expecting a dystopia or a panicked medical thriller.
2. Confused about the two narrator options? There’s nothing in one version you might miss by choosing the other, so listen to the samples and go with your favorite. They really are two readings of the same book! Yes, there’s something a bit clever behind having different narrator options, but I'll let you discover what it is on your own. Both narrators do a fantastic job, so really you can’t go wrong.
3. There’s an attached novella at the end, a faux nonfiction-style account of the beginnings of Haden’s Syndrome. It originally came out as an optional prequel so you can choose to read it first or last. If you want to jump to it first, it’s 2 h 15 min into the second download on the Wil Wheaton version, 2:58:30 on the second download of Amber Benson’s. The novella’s many narrators were a great touch but overall I found the novella too scattered to add much. I had no problem jumping into the main story without reading it first, and I'm glad I didn't bother.
As for my personal impressions? Fun book! Not too dark, not too fluffy, good pacing, likeable characters and interesting concepts -- I can see a lot of people enjoying this one. I don’t normally seek out procedurals, but the quick pace and sci-fi quirkiness kept things fresh. The Scalzi fans are going to be happy! I’m beginning to recognize Scalzi’s humorous touches and short and sweet closes. When I got to the end I wanted to talk to someone about the story, so I guess I’m going to have to start recommending this so I can! (I’d also love to know who catches the extra little bit of social commentary without being told first…. Yet another reason I need to go push this book on people!) There’s room in the world building for more stories in this setting. I don’t really expect one, but if there ever is a sequel I’d definitely buy it!
All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com
In Lock In you get a combination of sci-fi and police procedural. The future setting feels real and other than the technology is not so different from today. We follow Agent Shane, who grew up as a poster child for Hayden’s Syndrome and is trying to leave that behind him, on his first day of work for the FBI which also happens to be a the first day of the Haden Walkout in protest of legislation that is going to go into effect taking away much of the government funding/benefits to people with Hayden’s. Agent Shane is paired up with the jaded and rough around the edges Agent Van, she used to be an Integrator for people with Hayden’s, so they each have a fairly unique understanding of each other, even as they get to know each other as partners. Shane’s first real day on the job starts with a murder that involves and Integrator and we get to watch the story unfold as clues are provided. Some of the plot was predictable and some of it very easy to figure out, ultimately it was a very tangled web weaved by the time the “bad guy” is revealed. While the story is wrapped up nice and neat at the end, there is still a possibility of another story for a new investigation. I hope we do see more as the characters were fun and would love to read more.
This was my first Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, I thought he did a great job and I plan on looking for more books narrated by him. While he did not change his voice much for the different characters, I found I did not have a problem following which character was speaking. I prefer to hear a narrator do this rather than give a voice that does not fit the character, which I find can ruin a good audio. The novella at the end has several different narrators, off hand I recognized Luke Daniels, Tavia Gilbert, and Therese Plummer…, the novella was interesting and helped answer questions I had while listening to Lock In, I like how it is done documentary style.
All in all this was a good story; good narration and I look forward to reading/listening to more by John Scalzi
Audiobook purchased for review by ABR.
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Wow. Mind bending concept, well-written.
This is not typically the kind of book I listen to, but I followed to the hype and pre-ordered. I was pulled in! I could not stop listening to this near future tale about newly minted FBI agent Chris Shane. I am not familiar with John Scalzi's writing, this being my first of his novels, but I'm sure hoping there will be another book soon following Chris's career.
Wil Wheaton did a great job, as usual, reading the novel. I have NOT listened to my other narrator option, but am saving her for the next listen. I think Wil fit the Chris character well. Not sure how I'm going to like a feminine voice narrator with a male main character narrator.
One small disappointment: The book itself is only 7.75 hours long. There is a "bonus" novella appended to the recording of Lock In. I was hoping for two more hours of action around the 7.5 hour mark, but then realized the story was wrapping up. The novella seems to be pertinent information about Haden's, which, I hope, means I sequel is coming!
I would recommend they read it as it would be easier to ignore all of the I said, he said, she said...
Wil Wheaton did a great job with the narration though.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
John Scalzi doesn't do a lot of fancy footwork with language (he's not a writer that will give you a punchy new metaphor or a lot of symbolism), but for my money he is one of the best storytellers out there. You can count on Scalzi to give you an exciting plot with a great climax and a satisfying conclusion, characters you can love and love to hate, and a great sense of humor woven into the story to keep things fun and on pace. Lock In is no exception - the story follows Chris Shane, a new FBI agent, and his more experienced and jaded partner, Leslie Vann, as they work to solve a crime and uncover a conspiracy in a world radically changed by a pandemic and the technology that has evolved to cope with the affects of the disease. As much as I enjoy traveling the universe in sci-fi, I love the occasional look at the future from planet side and Lock In does that nicely with a lot of focus on bio-engineering, virtual reality, and software programming as well as a smattering of economics, politics, and sociology mixed into a story that is at heart a fast action police procedural. Scalzi gives you just enough science and logic to buy in to his world without slowing the plot down with too much detail.
I had a little trouble getting started with the story because you enter the story about 20 years after Haden's has struck so although this is a near-future sci-fi and you will recognize some aspects of the world as similar to today, the story begins after the radical changes the virus has wrought and it took me a little time to catch up. Once I did, I couldn't stop - lots of action and great characters. There seems to be some room in here for "the continuing adventures of Chris Shane" and I really hope to see more - I was so sorry when this ended.
I have liked Wil Wheaton's narration each time I've heard him, but I think he has matured as a narrator and is even better now. He doesn't really do "character voices", but he has the perfect emotional inflection for the dialog and the narrative both. Since this story is mostly told first person from the POV of Chris Shane, Wheaton was a good fit.
The novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome, which is at about 2:15 on the second download is terrific also. It is the story of how the virus struck and spread, the government and medical community response to it, the outcomes of the disease, and the beginning stages of the technology developed to cope with Haden's Syndrome. This is told sort of documentary style with a whole cast of narrators (including some of the really fun ones like Luke Daniels and Bronson Pinchot) and reminded me a little of World War Z. The novella is recorded after the book, but you could read these in either order. The book is much more action packed so it's probably a more exciting way to learn about Haden's, but I think I would have liked to have heard the novella first because I would have had a better understanding of Lock In from the beginning. Either order really is OK; neither the book nor the novella would spoil the other.
Very entertaining and a little thought-provoking - highly recommended!
I am not the biggest fan of John Scalzi. I usually find him a bit of a sort of post-modern Robert Heinlein. But I really enjoyed this novel. Very cool premise, very well explored and a tremendously sympathetic, if perhaps slightly flat, main protagonist. There are enough interesting secondary characters to make it interesting.
I'm not sure how I feel about the 2 hour novella tacked on at the end. It does give the novel context and has a bit of a post-apocalyptic aesthetic about it.
If you enjoy social sci-fi, combined with clever detective fiction, you'll like this.
First and foremost, I read all the reviews and one in particular told me that this is not a sci fi book but a police procedural. I didn't believe it. Well I am here to tell you it is not a sci fi book, it is a police procedural. Second, I don't know about all the hype surrounding Wil Wheaton as a narrator. I thought he was okay. The book, eh. The author added a novella to the end of the book to help give more background to the story. Well the story was not compelling enough for me to give up more time to this lame story.
I was SO bored!!! When I read the summary I could not wait for this book to come out .I was so excited. After listening...I was serisouly let down. The story was mostly backstory. There was a tiny amount of action, an even smaller amount of mystery and little character development. It was just a basic cop book, in a fascinating setting. I think the main reason I disliked this book was because there was SO MUCH potential to be an amazing book. I cared nothing for any of the characters, and that is rare for me.
The book was mostly boring backstory, and little ittle character development.
I really enjoyed the narrator, he was one of the best I have listened to. Also, the book was set in a very amazing world
I like John Scalzi's work so just calm down. This book was okay, original idea, but the story didn't wow me. Wheaton did a good job as usual and it kept me interested all the way through. Good. Just not as good as his other books.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
I enjoy Wil Wheaton as a narrator and his dry reading style seemed to match the book well. Scalzi is doing a near future FBI mystery here. There is good humor and tension and the scifi elements are handled well so that those that are not fans of scifi will still probably enjoy it.
I am mixed about whether you should listen or read the non-fiction-ish introduction piece before or after the book. It is at the end of the audiobook, but I didn't realize it was there until I was done. The beginning of the book is a bit confusing if you haven't read it. But on the other hand, it may give away some of the story if you read it first.
Overall though I really liked the book and while Scalzi wrapped up the story well, I could see this becoming a series.
"Brilliant but wish it was longer"
The book itself is relatively short but there is a bonus to make it even more worth buying. I really enjoyed the story and it poses a lot of interesting questions.
I got this as a result of listening to Ready Player One and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much it was a brilliant follow on. I particularly liked the authors break of the 4th wall.
"Surprising little gem."
Very good listen, a tad too much he said she said but otherwise fantastic. Loved the story and the characters within in. Would recommend to anyone with an interest in sci fi or crime
"A great story, well told"
This is a great piece of story telling. There are some really interesting twists and moral aspects.
Well worth a listen.
"Classic Scalzi - but just misses the mark for me."
This was an enjoyable listen, if quick. This book was released with 2 narrators, and I settled for the Wil Wheaton version (being a fan of his work). I believe he delivered a good narration, but would be nice if he varied his voice just a little more.
The book was fairly quick. I listened to this in a day. I had read the Short Novella before hand (and it is included in the audio version as a bonus - read by a cast).
The world is interesting, and I liked the crime/police angle. However, there was a little something missing for me. I would have liked a little more interaction with his new flat mates, to build up a more rounded character. I think some of the chapters could have been lengthened a little and may a couple of twists/dead ends.
All in all, this was a good read, but nothing fantastic. I do hope that we will visit this world again in a sequel.
"Good read! Engaging, fun ride!"
I was sceptical on trying this out after a series of bad books and also being spoilt by some really good ones! I enjoyed this and found it very engaging, much more so than I had expected from the outset. Interesting concept - in a nutshell people get a flu-like disease (Haydens) that spreads and ends up with someone being "locked in" i.e. completely conscious but unable to communicate with the outside world (body is pretty much in a coma). To overcome this two alternatives are created so people can interact with the world 1) a "robot" body that a person's consciousness can inhabit 2) people can effectively rent other people's bodies. That's the basic premise and the story spins out from there from there.
I like Will Wheaton reading generally and he's well suited to this kind of sci fi book. He does a good job and is well cast as a narrator for this book.
If you liked any of the following, you'll probably like this one too:
"The Martian" - Andy Weir, "Ready Player One" - Ernest Cline, "14" -Peter Clines
Btw, I highly recommend the books just mentioned.
"He said, she said, they said"
Had so looked forward to this one, but for me it fell flat. No memorable characters, I just didn't give a dam about any of them,a boring story with little action that read like a bad Columbo episode set in future. The story felt rushed characters were under developed and it leaned more on murder mystery then sci fi.
Wil Wheatons narration was mundane there was no variation between character voices they all read the same and there where times during the narration he sounded bored, he could of read a Haynes manual with more emotion.
I remember thinking the story was coming to the end and checked the time remaining, my heart sunk when I saw It still have 2 hours to go.I really just wanted it to conclude and was relieved when the story did end and included a bonus novella. Now this I did enjoy. My advice forget the main story, and fast forward to the novella much more enjoyable with decent narration.
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