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Head On

(Lock In #2)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  12,561 ratings  ·  1,470 reviews
John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each o
Hardcover, 335 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Tor Books
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4.01  · 
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 ·  12,561 ratings  ·  1,470 reviews

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Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Scalzi fans and sci-fi mystery fans
An enjoyable sequel to Lock In! 4.5 stars!

I am a big fan of the world Scalzi has created. The science of the threeps, Hadens, and how that can all play into a mystery are very fascinating. I think that this book would be accessible to both mystery and sci-fi fans alike – it is just a bonus when you are a fan of both.

Also, I have to say that I think I liked this better than Lock In. That is likely due to one of the two following reasons (or both)

1. Getting used to a new world with the first book
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
i went into this remembering next to nothing about what happened in the first book (didnt feel like a reread) - i only vaguely remembered that some people have robot bodies. lol. but thank goodness this acts as a standalone or else i would have been so lost! and for a book about a sport where the goal is to decapitate people, i was expecting this to have been a little more brutal, but the main focus was definitely on the police investigation (and i wasnt too bothered by that). this was your typi ...more
Robin (Bridge Four)
This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Lock In was one of my favorite Sci-Fi worlds ever.  I really appreciated all the thought John Scalzi put into how life would be different if the person you presented to the outside world was basically a robot.  The prequel Unlocked (which should actually be read after Lock In) was fantastic, as it was presented as a documentary on how 1% of the population ended up being locked in their minds, not able to move and how all the science was don
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-shelf, sci-fi
This is a super easy read that hits all the fun spots for all you folks who're into Sports, Mysteries, and great concept SF filled with robots designed for tele-reality and virtual reality.

I'm one of those readers who are very partial to the SF stuff and I like a good mystery, too, so I had a great time on that alone. But here's the funny part: the sports aspect is unique as hell and full of some great twists. :) Such as getting your head pulled off during the play to be used as a football. As p
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, mystery
*Shakes Fist at John Scalzi!!!*

Damn you, Scalzi! We still don't know if Chris is a male or female. You just like mind-fucking us don't you?

Come on!!
Now who's messing with us? VEGAN cookies? Eww... no thanks, I'll have crab juice instead.

Chris is out narrator and he/she is in the FBI, and look, I'm just going to assign Chris a gender right now because I'm not writing out he/she for every stupid thing I say. Chris is a girl. I've declared it because:

1. I want Chris to be a girl because she's so fr
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
At some point in the future – when early 21st century media culture is assessed in all its heedless glory – a full audit of the blogger/novelist phenomenon will come to pass, and John Scalzi will likely be held as one of its most successful and admired specimens. By blogger/novelist I don’t mean “novelist who blogs”, or blogger who turns their blog into a book, but of a specific mutant hybrid of both mediums. Scalzi has transposed all the elements of a thriving blog into his fiction writing care ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review for Lock In.

Scalzi continues the great momentum he built up in Lock In with this excellent sequel. Once again the daring duo of Chris (of the indeterminate gender) and Van find themselves involved in a complex investigation that intersects with the Haden community. In this case Hilketa, a sport that combines football with gladiatorial combat and robot bodies. Of course all is not as it appears, billions of dollars in investments are at risk, and death is always just around the corner.

As f
Robin (Bridge Four)
A Solid 4 Star Read

In a world where 1% of the population interacts with the rest of the world in something akin to C-3PO this was a game that was bound to be invented.
The reason Hilketa is so popular is that the players score points through simulated decapitation, and go after each other with melee weapons. It’s team gladiatorial combat, on a football field, with a nerdy scoring system. It’s all the violence every other team sport wishes it could have, but can’t, because people would actually
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I’m a huge fan of John Scalzi, having read almost all his novels, and when Lock In came out a few years ago it quickly became one of my favorite books by the author. It was therefore with great excitement that I picked up Head On, which is described as its standalone sequel. And indeed, you may choose to read this without having read the first book, but personally I feel you will be missing out on the subtler nuances of
Scalzi's books are always such good palette cleansers. Head On was fast and fun (and a little bit infuriating).

This is the second book in the Lock In series, which started with 2014's Lock In. You don't need to have read the first book if this one tickles your fancy, but you should, because it's great. The premise here is that in the near future, a disease called Haden's Syndrome (after the first lady of the US, it's most famous victim) makes it so that a portion of the population are locked in
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, stars-4-0
Having loved Lock In (and the short story that started it all Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this sequel. As expected, we are offered another fast-paced police procedural set in a world very much like our own but with some important differences due to a percentage of the population suffering from Haden’s Syndrome, in effect locking people in their own bodies.

The murder mystery is treated in the usual way, focusing on the FBI Agents Chris Shane
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are back and investigating the mysterious death of a professional athlete in Hillketa, a sport where all the players are affected by Haden's Syndrome. What follows is a multi-city investigation involving adultery and a corporate sports league where murders and violent crime are all over the place as someone desperately tries to cover-up what's actually happening and trying to stay one step ahead of the FBI.

I thought that this was an excellent follow-up to the brillian
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wry wit, social commentary, and a world full of stories: I really enjoy Scalzi's Lock In universe, and was happy to read this sequel. In this rich world of androids and humans, Scalzi explores the role of the body and mind in identity, and dis/ability, business and politics, all in a fun procedural buddy-cop format. Scalzi's mashup of genres is ever-entertaining and I hope he keeps going with this for a long while.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second book in the futuristic sci-fi police procedural series by John Scalzi, Head On, builds on the thematic foundations laid out in the earlier book (Lock In) by introducing professional sports into the post Haden's syndrome world where sufferers are locked in to their bodies but are able to live a mobile and semi-normal life by using humanoid robotics technologies called threeps to get around; this all made possible by technology which transposes the locked in persons brain waves into a t ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
"Basically, Hilketa is both representation and alienation for Hadens."

This is an FBI procedural story set in the near future where the case is focused on robot controlled medieval gladiatorial sports, Hilketa. I wish there had been more sport, but this emphasized the political and economical consequences of Hadens, especially how business and legislation are in a constant push and pull. It feels like a Washington D.C. story with the lens decidedly on the business side.

The trajectory was good, b
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First thoughts: fast-paced, love Vann and Shane’s interactions. And the business side of Hilketa was interesting.
Marianna Neal
2.5 out of 5 stars

Let me start out by saying I don't think this is a bad book. Furthermore, there were parts of Head On that I enjoyed and that actually gave me hope of finally "getting into" this book. But, unfortunately, it just didn't do much for me—the story, the characters, the writing... none of this went above average, hence the 2.5 out of 5 rating. It was just... OK. The idea of Head On is definitely much better than the execution, especially considering how interesting Lock In was.
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is basically a mystery with a really cool setting. I enjoyed it! I liked the premise a lot, and I especially enjoyed the first part and getting back into the world.
Jenny Baker
This is my least favorite Scalzi novel to date, but this wasn't bad at all. I enjoyed it, but I wasn't as wowed as I was with Lock In and Old Man's War. The summary says that you can read this as a standalone, but I recommend that you read Lock In first.

It took at least 50 pages for me to get into this. Once the story picked up I loved it, but there were too many ups and downs for me. One minute I was glued to the book and the next I was a little bored. I just wish there had been more consisten
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1audio, z2018, audio-read
3 meh, this is an ok story-stars for the Audible edition of Head On, as narrated by Wil Wheaton. Add half a star for the great (as always) narration by Wil, and I'll throw in another half-star in appreciation of Scalzi managing to squeeze in the phrase "Applied directly to the forehead!"

Overall: 4 stars, but I sure wish there'd been more Scalzi silliness.
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really do hope that there are more of these to come. I loved both books so much!
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Lock In series is most interesting because of it's science fiction element - the ability to transfer your consciousness to a robot body and/or exist in an online world. I enjoy a murder investigation story as much as the next guy but throw in robots and you have something I can really lose myself in. Not to mention the fact that everything I've read of Scalzi feels like it was written with me in mind. It's exactly the perfect writing style with the perfect amount of humor and the perfect len ...more
This is as well written as Lock In, but is a sequel so some of the shiny newness has rubbed off. That means it was really good, a wonderful murder mystery in the semi-near future. It's also narrated by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from STNG) who really does a good job. I don't think reading these books in order is a must, but I'd suggest it.

Would a person who had Hayden's from such an early age even have a sex? Several times we're told that every Hayden victim has their brain reordered by the d
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction

I always enjoy Scalzi’s books. Always fun and fast passed Sci-Fi. If you like mysteries and sports, you would enjoy this book.

Second book in Lock in series is around a unique violent game for Hadens, small percentage of population who cannot move physically but are present in real world nonetheless through their Threep. Although violent no player should be in real danger but everything changes when a player dies during a game and one of the audience is Chris , the most famous Haden which happens
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

Not a lot to say here besides I freaking loved this book. I loved Lock In (the first book in the series) and the world that John Scalzi created. I adored the characters of Vann and Chris. Though the book is told via Chris's POV, I do wish one of the books would be told in Vann's POV. She is just my favorite.

It's been several months or at least a year since the events in the first book. We have Chris stil
kartik narayanan
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Head On is a good follow up to Lock In. Most of the complaints I had about Lock In have been addressed here, while it still retains all of its strengths.

In my review of Lock In, I mentioned that its strength was its excellent world building - on par with any Asimov out there - while it was let down by its poor storyline and paper thin characters.

Rejoice! I liked the story in Head On and the characters, while not robust, are definitely better portrayed this time. John Scalzi choses to focus on t
ashley c
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Action film packed in paperback format. Self-contained mystery about a Haden athletic dying while on the field. That isn't too strange if you didn't read the first book. If you did, you'd know that a Haden is someone who is essentially in a coma physically but still able to perceive the world and go about their daily life piloting a robot body with their brain. The athletic died in his bed while his robot body was on the field, which wasn't supposed to happen.

It's a short and sweet self-containe
I’m so glad that Scalzi returns to the fascinating near-future world of Hadens, people representing about 1% of the world’s population who were stricken with an epidemic causing neural damage in a pattern leaving them totally unable to move. This state, called “Locked-In”and used for the earlier novel’s title, was the target of a massive, “moonshot” of government sponsored research efforts and subsidies which led to the development two avenues for the disease victims to live effective lives. One ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This was a blast. I couldn't stop listening and finished the whole audiobook in one sitting. It was so much fun to be back in the world and the story really had me hooked this time.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found here!

TW: death (bc it’s a murder mystery)

Compared to the first book, this one kind of sucked.

Let me back it up. The first book had a great and enthralling plot that just sucked me in completely, along with great characters that I just absolutely loved because they were so complex. I devoured the whole book eagerly. I ended up wanting so much more and needed it at that second once I finished the book.

But this book?

The plot didn’t interest me. At the start, it was bec
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SciFiBN: March 2019: Head On by John Scalzi 1 4 Oct 12, 2018 10:33AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Head On" Buddy Read 34 47 Aug 02, 2018 06:29AM  
Play Book Tag: Head On - Scalzi - 4 stars 2 16 Jun 21, 2018 01:58PM  
Play Book Tag: Head On by John Scalzi 4 stars 1 12 Jun 09, 2018 01:28PM  
Play Book Tag: Head On - John Scalzi (4 stars) 5 21 May 05, 2018 09:44AM  

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John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)

Other books in the series

Lock In (2 books)
  • Lock In (Lock In, #1)
“This novel took me rather longer than usual to write, for a number of reasons but one big one being simply that 2017 was a raging trash fire of a year, filled with horrible people trying to do horrible things and often succeeding. It’s harder to bear down creatively when the world is burning.” 3 likes
“But of course not meaning harm isn’t the same as not doing harm.” 1 likes
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