Editor reviews

Editors Select, August 2014 - I'm a huge sci-fi listener, and when I heard that John Scalzi was coming out with a new novel in August, there was no question that it was going to be my pick for the month. The premise: In the near-future, a mass contagion called Haden's Syndrome sweeps the world. 99% of those affected experience normal flu-like symptoms, but 1% of the world is left "locked in" – trapped with a fully functional mind inside a non-functioning body. Technological advancements have made it possible for these people to move through the world using artificial android-like bodies but often at the sacrifice of being viewed as less than human. Lock In takes place about twenty years after the outbreak, and focuses on Chris Shane's first day on the job as an FBI agent (Chris is one of the world's most famous victims of the disease). I've always admired Scalzi for is his ability to write compelling, multi-dimensional characters of all genders, and in this book, he does something truly novel: he never specifies a gender for Chris. As a result, we're rewarded with two great versions of this audiobook - one narrated by Wil Wheaton, and one by Amber Benson ( Buffy the Vampire Slayer). This is a thrilling, highly original, genre-bending story that will appeal to mystery & thriller and sci-fi fans alike. —Sam, Audible Editor
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2 editions. 2 narrators. 1 thrilling story. You can enjoy Wil Wheaton's narration here.
"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)
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.
©2014 John Scalzi (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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Critic reviews

"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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 02-09-14

A Novel approach

Where does Lock In rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is my favourite of the Scalzi stories I've listed to. Mostly due to the awesome reading by Amber Benson.

What does Amber Benson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Amber Benson manages to create a dramatic story where you can almost forget the descriptive prose.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Lock - In - Threepio FBI

Any additional comments?

Scalzi appears to have a verbal tick, which is noticeable when read, of using "said" a lot. When reading a book you can skim this but when it's read it jumps out (at least to me).

The appended full cast novella "Unlocked" was awesome!

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Stephen H on 21-02-17

not very engaging

it had good promise but i found the writing style a little uninspired. in the end i didn't care what happened.

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2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Bruce Derflinger on 22-09-14

Scalzi Locks In Another Winner

John Scalzi always seems to come up with new ideas or new twists on old ideas (is there really anything new under the sun?). The premise is one of the most terrifying things that could happen to a person. It’s worse than life imprisonment in solitary confinement. In solitary you can stand, sit, move around (not much, but you can move), smell (but you might not want too), talk, feel, and see. Now imagine a virus that causes millions round the world to die, worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920. Of those that recover 99%, go on with their lives. For other 1% (4 million in the US alone), it causes a person to be locked into their body, awake and aware of the world around them, yet incapable of seeing, moving, or communicating, unable (luckily?) to even taste the gruel that is piped into their body. Hundreds of millions in the US a around the world have been ravished by this disease, and it continues to strike down more victims every year.

But into this chamber of horror comes a ray of light, an open door leading back to the world - in the form an external body that sort of looks like the Droid CP3O. At least that is the style for the First Lady, an early victim of the virus, “Haden’s syndrome”. Named for its most public and well know victim - herself, the President’s wife. The First Lady has been given the first external body – our hero - Chris Shane, a child at the time, was granted the second, a child size version and becomes Haden’s syndromes second most famous victim. Yet through the adversity Chris becomes a beacon of hope for those suffering from this modern black plague. More than twenty years have gone by since the first outbreak; Chris is now a fledgling FBI agent and is trying to step out of the spotlight, into making a real life.

The second day on the job, the rookie Chris and new partner Agent Vann meet in front of the Watergate Hotel. The meeting spot is next to car that is sporting a love seat – embedded in the roof after being thrown through a seventh floor window. From this point on you are trapped in a twisted and totally enjoyable world pulled from the mind of John Scalzi.

A truly wondrous place to be.

On the narrators:

One of the more interesting curves is that Scalzi never hints at Chris Shane’s sex. So having Amber Benson and Wil Wheaton narrate individual versions is now more reasonable to me. I picked Amber’s version and wish that I had also picked up Wil’s so I could have compared them in their entirety. I have been a fan of both actors since the days of Star Trek, the Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I decided on Amber’s version because I had the pleasure of catching Wil on several other books and I wished to hear Amber tackle this project.

Amber Benson, held her own as a late comer to Buffy. Even surrounded by a powerful cast of actors, she stood out early enough to really earn the prized role of Willow’s (Alyson Hannigan) better half, through 47 episodes. Narrating, “Locked In” Amber seems to start off slow – but then you realize that she is reading a report from a government agency, so it’s going to be a bit flat. The characterization starts building from Chapter 2 and, for the most part, is strong and clear. Very captivating, it allows you to lean back and take pleasure in the theater of the mind that John and Amber weave for you.

One note on Wil’s reading – I have only heard the five minute sample of his interpretation of the text, and it’s typical Wheaton. Crisp, clear and full of impact, and swift - it seems powerful and should also be a good experience.

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39 of 41 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Anthony on 11-09-14

Love Amber's Narration

I'm only a third of the way through this book but I felt obliged to say that Amber Benson's narration is fantastic.
If you want a narrator who does character voices and dramatizes a novel, choose Amber Benson's version.
If you want a narrator who has a great speaking voice but has a drier, quicker delivery without any character voices, choose Wil Wheaton.

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94 of 101 people found this review helpful

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