I’ve been a Scalzi fan since I read Old Man’s War years ago. His books tend to be fun, light reads and Lock In is no different. Following an outbreak of a disease that leaves millions unable to control their own bodies, robots are developed that the afflicted can use through brain implants. So while they lie in a hospital bed, their robot analogue walks around, going to work, visiting friends and living their outside life.
The story follows one of the people with the disease, who has become an FBI agent at a time when there is a lot of tension between the unaffected humans and the locked in humans.
The book is a crime story with an obvious sci-fi twist since it’s got robots walking around. However it doesn’t seem to be set too far in the future, or perhaps even just in an alternate universe. People still use cars, phones, tablets and shotguns. There was a little confusion on when the outbreak happened, since the timeline wasn’t really clear to me.
The story moves along at a steady pace, with it never going where I thought it would. I wouldn’t say that the twists and turns shocked me, but they were good enough to keep me reading.
The major downside for me was to do with the editing of the book. Whilst there aren’t any spelling or grammar errors, the book does suffer from some other issues. I’m never sure if this is just the author in me, but since it broke immersion for me a few times, I thought I’d mention the problems.
1. The first, and most important, is echoing words. The book quite often will have a line like this:
Smith entered the building through the front door and entered the living room.
Where a word is repeated within the same sentence or in adjacent sentences. For me, at least, that just seemed a little lazy. A slight restructure would have made it flow better.
2. The second problem was with ‘was’. In some places (not often), there is a lot of repetition of the word ‘was’. In one paragraph it was used four times. Again, this might just be me with my author hat on, but it threw me out of the story.
3. The last problem was with clunky sentences. Some sentences were structured in such a way that I had to reread them to get their meaning. Other sentences just had unnecessary information. They told me the same thing twice, within the space of a couple of paragraphs.
Overall, I liked Lock In, the story was fun and moved along well. My only drawbacks were the style issues above. However, if that’s not the kind of thing you notice or care about, then Lock In is a fun crime story that zipped by. I give it 3/5 stars, which is 4/5 on Amazon, meaning that I liked it.
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