So, I’ve read a handful of John Scalzi and I’ve really liked everything that I’ve read. I bought Lock In on Audible a little while ago. Then Head On was about to come out so I listened to Lock In and immediately pre-ordered Head On. I think I finished Head On, the audiobook mind you, the day after it came out. I ate lunch in my car for two days to listen to it. I played it while washing dishes. I couldn’t put it down.
Why do I love this series? It’s fun. It’s familiar but yet new. I know those are contrasting ideas but allow me to explain.
To start, the series is read by two different people, Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson. I don’t mean they take turns for different characters. Both read both books in character. The narrator, and main character, is Chris Shane, an FBI agent showing up for a first day of work. Chris is NEVER identified as male or female. There are no clues. Chris’s parents never refer to their son or daughter. Characters in the series fall all across the sexual preference spectrum so there is no indication that Chris is male or female. Wil and Amber are both Chris. I’ve listened to Wil narrate before and I am a big fan so I chose his version. I almost switched for Head On – seriously, my poor wife, who has not read the book, was pretty happy when I stopped agonizing over which version and just bought one. Amber’s version is an hour longer and as I usually listen to audiobooks faster than regular speed, I stuck with what I know I liked and a speed I prefer.
Now for the stories themselves. The Lock In series takes place in the near future, after a disease called Haden Syndrome swept over the planet and imprisoned its victims in coma-like conditions wherein they are fully awake and alive but incapable of responding to any stimuli. Chris is a victim of Haden’s and is assigned to the Haden division of the FBI, responsible for investigating Haden-related crime. That’s not much more than the blurb on the back but I’d rather you get to experience the book, and all of its surprises, like I did.
The final things I’d like to discuss is how interesting this world is. It’s just a few decades in the future so the changes to today are not extreme and so the issues that drive a lot of the character motives are both familiar yet new. While I don’t want to shoehorn this series into a specific box but if I assigned it terms from a word cloud, I’d call it a sci-fi police procedural. If you enjoy the procedural genre and think you’d like a a new wrinkle, check out this series. It’s just fun.
I read it in this order: Lock In, Unlocked, and then Head On. Unlocked was a bonus feature for the audible version of Lock In.