Scalzi is in fine form yet again with his newest novel. As we’ve come to expect, the characters leap right off the page. (See, this is why he’s getting paid the big bucks—he writes well, and I write with cliches.) It’s not just that they’re incredibly distinctive, it’s also that you get that sense after only a few paragraphs of time with each character.
The concept and story is fascinating (and scarily timely with the viral ALS icebucket challenge). I cannot recommend the prequel novella (Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome) enough. You can grab it for free here, and read my review here. However, while that reads like an epidemic tale, Lock In is a detective thriller and is set years after the outbreak—after society has had a chance to cope, and all the political and personal tensions appear.
It’s also pretty damn funny, but not in a trying too hard sort of way (cough, cough, Sanderson). It’s funny in the way of a long-time confident comedian who knows exactly what they’re doing.
Now, some use this as a detraction, but this novel is incredibly easy to read. I’m not saying it’s simple, but you will be so absorbed and fly through the clear and concise prose (and the wonderful dialogue—another of Scalzi’s many talents) that you’ll finish before you know it. If commercial fiction doesn’t bother you, I highly recommend you grab Lock In this summer.
However, I never got quite invested enough to give it five stars. It was satisfying, but was missing a certain something to make me fall in love.
Nothing about this books sucks. But it also wasn’t a blazing fire of awesomesauce either.
It also sort of wrapped up too quickly. Not in an exciting way with an explosive finish, but more of a two-page info dump of “aha, and here’s how we did it!” Do detective novels usually do this? Perhaps I’m just out of the loop, but when you’re getting to within a dozen pages of the end, and that end hasn’t happened yet…well, I prefer long denouements and brilliant climaxes (not in that order).
Overall, a fun book that won’t disappoint Scalzi fans, and since it’s not in the Old Man’s War universe, an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with the author.
Lock In will be published on August 26 from Tor Books and you can pre-order it from all reputable (and probably not-so-reputable) bookstores. You should also go see Scalzi while he’s on tour for this novel and get your books and pets signed. Full details here.