Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Book Review: Lock In by John Scalzi

Pros: great premise, diverse cast, complex plot

Cons: Chris’s connections start to feel contrived, Chris’s wealth 

Chris Shane contracted Haden’s syndrome at the age of 2 and has been ‘locked in’ ever since, aware of his/her surroundings, but unable to move. There have been numerous technological advances in the years since the disease first hit, including the creation of threeps, robot bodies that lock ins can use to live normal lives. The day other Haden sufferers go on strike to oppose a new legislative bill that strips them of a lot of their protections, Chris starts his/her job at the FBI. When an integrator, a person who can carry around a Haden sufferer’s consciousness, is found standing over the dead body of a man, Chris starts his/her first case.

First off, had I not read when the audio book came out that there were two versions, one with a female narrator and one with a male, I might not have noticed that Chris’s gender is never specified. Hence my use of his/her.

The book deals heavily with disabilities - the language used to talk about it, how people with disabilities are perceived by those without disabilities, there’s a very brief conversation about whether cures are the best course of action, etc. It’s great to see a book deal with these issues in a frank way. It also goes into discrimination in some ways, for example, while Haden’s sufferers are able to use threeps, no one else can, including people with other debilitating physical conditions - like quadriplegics. 

I loved some of the technology used in the book, particularly the 3D crime scene maps and the agora.

The plot was pretty complicated and had a lot of great twists. I did start to feel that a few of the connections Chris made were contrived - Tony being the exact person they need to help with their case, meeting with the heads of the pertinent Haden corporations the week everything’s happening. They’re realistic given the context, their location, and the number of Haden’s concentrated in DC, but they still felt a bit too lucky.

It started to annoy me how quickly Chris was to throw money at his/her problems. Yes he/she is rich, but he/she can’t afford to do this kind of thing on every job - replacing threeps, paying for services people he/she meets on cases can’t afford, agreeing to pay Tony whatever he wants, regardless of the budgetary concerns of restrictions of the FBI (they don’t even see if the FBI has their own contracted programmers who could do the work for them before hiring him).

I thought it was a great mystery with some thought provoking ideas.

No comments: