Lock In by John Scalzi

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So, this is a little eerie since it was published long before the pandemic, but features a global virus known as Haden syndrome that was first thought to be a flu variant… but turned out to be something worse. This particular virus fucks up your nervous system causing your mind to disconnect from your body. Mentally, you’re all there — but physically you can’t do shit. It’s called Lock In syndrome, and because it was so widespread and was causing cataclysmic economic problems, a brand new science race kicked off to try and find a way to make robots that we could transfer our consciousnesses into — and it finally paid off.

This follows the story of a guy who has Lock In syndrome who also happens to be the son of the billionaire who funded a lot of the research regarding Haden syndrome and the bot bodies known as threeps. He’s a well known celebrity and it infiltrates most aspects of his life. He’s sick of being used as a pawn for his dads political or financial gain and wants to do something with his life that he can call his own. He’s working as an FBI agent trying to figure out a strange murder or suicide, he isn’t sure which it is and he’s trying to find out. There are people who recover from Lock In syndrome, but they are left with a unique re-organization of their brains. It allows them to be hosts for people with Lock In syndrome, and is often preferred by the rich over automaton bodies. Something fucky may be going on and he has to figure out what before more people die.

There’s a fair amount of distrust among people using robots, or those who are able to be surrogates to others minds. The new tech is introduced fluidly and feels real and natural and something that could happen in real life, which for me is pretty integral if you’re going to base your world in a timeline set just a few decades from now. There’s an online venue for Haden victims only that’s got it’s own culture. There are subcultures among today’s society and Haden victims sort of create their own society and norms/culture that’s different from the outside world. The earlier you catch the virus the less likely you’re going to want to engage with teh outside world. Whereas people who caught the virus late in life tend to want surrogates or robot bodies to walk around the ‘real world’.

I liked the voice of this character, I wouldn’t say it was the most riveting or interesting character, but he was relatable in ways and wasn’t an abrasive personality despite his background and upbringing. I did kind of see him as a vehicle for the story, but that was okay because I found the story to be pretty engaging. There were some twists at the end I sort of saw coming, it was a like a vague idea that got confirmed in detail later on, but I still found the conclusion to be enjoyable and satisfying.

All in all I found this to be a quick light read that works well as a palate cleanser. The narration was okay, Wil Wheaton is a big name draw, I don’t think he ranks as a favorite of mine but it wasn’t bad.


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 10/15
  • World Building: 12.5/15
  • Writing: 13/15
  • Pacing: 13/15
  • Originality: 11/15
  • Enjoyment: 7/10

Final Score: 78.5/100 or 4/5 stars on goodreads