Patrick's Reviews > Lock In

Lock In by John Scalzi
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it was amazing

I've read pretty much everything John Scalzi has written at this point, so when I pick up one of his books, I don't expect anything in particular. I just know he's going to take me somewhere, and I trust that he's going to make the ride a pleasant one.

Even so, I was a little surprised by this book. In some ways it's sci-fi but not rocketships-and-lasers sci-fi. In other ways it's a mystery, but not the Victorian-style Sherlock sort of thing. It's also kind of a police procedural. Maybe a bit of a... thriller? I dunno...

Honestly, I'd hesitate to classify this book as one particular thing, which means it's sufficiently complex to be a story in its own right, and not just some generic genre knock-off. A good thing.

In a change of pace for me, I didn't read the texty print version of this book. Instead I listened to the Audiobook narrated by Amber Benson. That added a lot to the experience for me, and made me realize just how far I have to go as a narrator myself.

And I don't mean that I listened to it, thinking "Yay! I love Amber Benson!" (Though I do.) She's a much better narrator than that, her own voice doesn't intrude into the story. The truth is, I constantly *forgot* she was the one narrating it. That's impressive skill at work.

Was the book worth my time? Absolutely. Like all good speculative fiction it started with an interesting premise and followed that premise through to to reasonable but unexpected permutations. It's clever, thoughtful, funny, and had some good action to boot.

P.S. Scalzi did something interesting with the audio of this book, and had *two* versions recorded. One read by Amber Benson. One read by Wil Wheaton. Has anyone out there listened to the Wheaton version? Or both of them? How do they compare?
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 16, 2014 – Shelved
November 16, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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Geoffrey I listened to the Wil Wheaton narration and really enjoyed it, but I've also enjoyed most of the books he's narrated (and there have been more then one Scalzi book he's done), so maybe I'm biased.

Karen I really enjoyed this book and I really appreciated the effort it must have taken to write the book from a such a "gender neutral" and to some extent color-blind viewpoint. What did you think Patrick - is Chris male or female?

Matthew Liu-Picchietti I love what this book does to the concepts of identity and race. And though this is not as funny nor as sweet as some of Scalzi's other books, Redshirts and Android's Dream, it is a really good who-done-it.

message 4: by Rob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob Intriguing review. Made me go pick up the book today!

message 5: by PJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

PJ I've listened to both audio versions. I'll freely admit that Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite narrators and I absolutely loved his performance. Amber Benson's version was pretty good, but several of her character voices didn't work for me as well as Wheaton's. (Full Disclosure: I often am biased against female narrators as I find a female voice reading a male character grating. I don't know why it is, but I've only heard 2 or 3 female narrators whose male character voices didn't throw me. That said - it's a personal bias.)

message 6: by PJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

PJ And a further note - in particular it was Benson's rendition of the main villain's voice that was the biggest difference between her version & Wheaton's. I'd recommend listening to Wheaton's version of the last interrogation session, if nothing else. (His performance as the Navajo police officer was also terrific.)

Debra Lowman I listened to Wheaton's version, which I mostly chose because the main character is male. Wheaton carried it off beautifully.

message 8: by PJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

PJ Debra wrote: "I listened to Wheaton's version, which I mostly chose because the main character is male. Wheaton carried it off beautifully."

I'm just curious why it was you assume the main character is male. Some of Chris' actions read as 'male' to me as well, (e.g. - the scene where Chris first met the doctor roommate - her name escapes me), but I believe the main character's gender was left intentionally ambiguous. With Wheaton reading, there's an inherent bias toward thinking Chris is male, but was there anything in particular in the text that made you think Chris was male?

Debra Lowman PJ wrote: "Debra wrote: "I listened to Wheaton's version, which I mostly chose because the main character is male. Wheaton carried it off beautifully."

I'm just curious why it was you assume the main charact..."

Fantastic point. I had to think about this before replying and the answer is simple in the end. I thought Chris was male most likely because of an initial perusal and my bias to choose Wheaton as narrator. But, since your comment I went back and looked at the print version and I really can't find a gender reference. Oh...well played Scalzi, well played. Thanks for bringing that up. It definitely added another dimension to the reading of the book.

message 10: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara I listened to Wheaton, it was fab. I plan to listen to Benson, but I thought I'd wait a year or two.

message 11: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Can't wait for your next book Patrick! =]

message 12: by Anne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne C. Now I REALLY want to read the Amber Benson version. I just got finished with the WW version and didn't know there were two.

Robgonzo I'm curious Patrick, as has been mentioned in this thread, Scalzi intentionally left the main characters gender ambiguous and also had two readers.
Since you listened to the Amber Benson version, what gender did YOU assume for the main character?

Bertha Trujillo WW's version was great. He has a great voice for narration.

chasing_false_projections Oh my... I just presumed that Chris was male. I finished the book today and now I read these comments of yours and I am mind blown. Can't believe I didn't pick up on that. I just presumed main character was male. It is funny to see how our mind works...

message 16: by Cole (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cole Hadn’t thought about the gender possibilities, cool twist to consider. The dynamic between Chris and Vann seemed bi-gender to me though.

Brian Bakker Wheaton's is great. I have Benson's version for the sequel though, will start with that after my current reads, so I hope it is good as well.

message 18: by Tarik (new)

Tarik I like his invention. What I don't like is how he starts out every book with exposition; world building, if you will. By the time the story begins there is so much, too much information for me to retain in order to remember what a particular detail is connected to. I'd rather he drop the exposition and just tell the story. I can fill in the blanks with detail as the story moves forward.

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