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Publisher's Summary

"As much as Scalzi has the scientific creativity of a Michael Crichton, he also has the procedural chops of a Stephen J. Canell to craft a whodunit with buddy-cop charm and suspects aplenty - most of them in someone else's body." (USA Today)

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the stand-alone follow-up to the New York Times best-selling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent's head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are "threeps", robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden's Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real, and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are called in to uncover the truth - and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

©2018 John Scalzi (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Sequel

This is both a great sequel to Lock In and also a good standalone novel. However, first time readers may be confused as much of the information about the origin of Haden syndrome is not mentioned. This is definitely an exciting and enjoyable read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, lousy narration

After having listened to this version, I found out that the narrator of the first book, Wil Wheaton, had also narrated another release of the book.

This is not that version. The story is interesting and fast paced and very in keeping with Scalzi’s talent for creating a world and making its nuances alive and relevant and essential. This narrator, Amber Benson, reads it like she has a personal grudge against the characters. Her voice is belligerent when it doesn’t need to be, often nasal, often ending on an incongruous note. It made listening to this book a chore to be got through rather than an immersive romp to be enjoyed. I thoroughly questioned why they had given the narration to a female voice, when the protagonist is male, and the single female main supporting character is performed in such a gruff voice that one wonders if the narrator were trying to imply a gender swap had taken place.


Full disclosure: to my joy, I found the Wil Wheaton version and immediately returned this book so that I could purchase that version instead. Which is what I recommend: buy the book, but with He other narrator. You’ll enjoy it more.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Bettendorf, IA, United States
  • 04-20-18

Excellent book and narration

Loved it. Read in a day. Love the characters, the tech & world building, and narration. Someday would like to hear the series in the other narrator’s delivery, too, (but may wait for a sale).

Another grand Scalzi book!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great story, meh narration

The story is just as good as the first, Lock In. The characters and setting are the same, and there are some callbacks to the original, but there is enough context given for this novel to stand alone.

The gripping mystery, with just the right balance of action and comedy, is here in full force once again. The thought-provoking social commentary returns as well, this time turning its attention to professional sports and the culture surrounding them.

I find Amber Benson's delivery to be dry and hard-boiled, missing many of the story's whimsical notes. I had this criticism with Lock In as well, greatly preferring Wil Wheaton's performance. I look forward to hearing his version of Head On next.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Finished it and meh.

I love John Scalzi's work. And I enjoyed the first in this series narrated by Will Weaton. This one, not as much. I gave it a 4 because the story kept me engage enough to finish, but, it was difficult at times to listen to the background information. I'm having a hard time thinking about specifics, just a sense of minimal engagement at times; distracted maybe.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story line

So I read Lock-In first and was instantly hooked. I downloaded this one and wasn’t disappointed! The story line is so good and keeps you guessing throughout!
I did not really care for the narrator in this one though, the different “Voices” she used were not very good and were almost aggravating.
But! I highly recommend this book for real!!!!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

could read again

this is a great book! loved the character development and rich content as the story takes you between different spheres of reality.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sverre
  • United States
  • 05-16-18

Solid sequel

Very much hoping that Scalzi writes more stories in this universe. The dynamic between the two main characters is great!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great characters and performance!

The series as been very engaging, we choose Benson as the narrator this time. Nice to hear the different perspective. Her representation of Van is amazing really made her come alive. (Poor Mexican accent though)
Ps- “ A fugitive kitty!!” Hahaha awesome.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bgrl82
  • New Hampshire
  • 05-09-18

I was...

bummed when realizing it wasn't the wil wheaton version, but decided since I heard lock in by wil I'd listen to this to see if it influenced how i pictured the main character. it did, but mostly it just made them gender neutral to me. where in the first book i had assumed it was a guy. great story as always. scalzi's the man and i think i might listen to more by amber... she really did other character voices well.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • DL
  • 05-12-18

Not a great sequel

I enjoyed the first book in the series but the plot of this one was decidedly average and not helped by very poor narration with voices that frequently felt like nails on a blackboard.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 04-30-18

great story, poor choice of narrator

the narrator tries to 'do' mens voices by making her voice really deep and it sounds awful. she can't make get voice differentiate enough between the low voiced female characters and any of the male characters.

this left me feeling confused about who was talking and their gender a lot of the time.

the story is excellent though, but it's book 2 so make sure you listen to 'locked in' first.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-18-18

Chris and Leslie investigate , enjoyable

I liked the characters of Chris , Leslie and Tommy and investigation more of the world of Hayden’s and the interaction between them and other humans. The conversation is snarky and the story is well paced.It is very efficiently written, which has the side effect of making the main villain fairly obvious. This is more like a procedural than a mystery.


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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alter Ego
  • 05-16-18

Nice story, narration not so great

Much preferred Wil Wheaton's narration of the original. The character readings in this one were unconvincing