I follow Patrick Rothfuss on Goodreads, and I notice that his tastes in books tend to the sci-fi and fantasy, whereas I’m more selective in those genres. Yet some of his high recommendations catch my eye, and John Scalzi’s Lock In was one of them. I was curious by the premise, and it seemed to go along with my reading of dystopian and survival literature.
The setting and premise are complex but highly interesting. A virus/pandemic has swept through the United States (of course) and it can cause either of two responses: the first locks you in your body and leaves you completely unable to function outside your skin, unless you have a Personal Transport that allows your brain to control an android and perform daily functions or your job; or it changes neural pathways and leaves you able to host a locked-in individual for a period of time. The former are known as Hadens (because the FLOTUS contracted it), and the latter, who survived and can host another’s body, are called Integrators. And this is just the premise. Chris Shane is a Haden and just starting the FBI, when a mysterious case of an Integrator’s murder causes a series of scandals to emerge. The novel hinges on being able to piece apart who is in whose body, as well as the problems of living in a mechanical body but being locked in a paralyzed physical form.
Once I got the main idea, I was hooked. It’s an interesting story, and Scalzi develops his world really well. There’s definitely room for more novels in this world. What I really liked is the fact that Chris as a protagonist is of indeterminate gender. Man or woman? Genderqueer? There’s room to imagine. I projected Chris as a genderqueer woman, and thought that reading was really interesting. But reading Chris as a man would also be highly plausible. It’s cool to be able to write a complex protagonist in a way that you can decide which gender he or she is, or what you think is the most likely, based on your reading. My sister told me that if you were to download the audiobook, there are two choices for narrators: Wil Wheaton or Amber Benson. Very cool.