Andrew Smith's Reviews > Lock In

Lock In by John Scalzi
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did not like it
bookshelves: science-fiction, not-finished

I confess that I really struggled with this book. It's not that I think it a bad book, rather I think it's a book I was incapable of fully appreciating. Not my style, too outlandish? No, not really either of these. I like books that commence with an event that so disturbs our world that it is forever significantly changed (in this case it was a disease, of which more later). It does require a leap of faith to accept the new world, but I was up for that too and fully willing to jump in neck deep and determined to go with the flow.

A disease that starts off with flu-like symptoms has swept the world and millions of people have been infected. Many have died but some have survived. Of the survivors, a proportion have been locked-in. That is to say, their minds are intact but they are unable to use their bodies. But it's not quite as disastrous as this sounds as the locked-in people are able to use one of two options (or maybe both of them) to live a life much closer to normal than one could imagine. Option one is to effectively live life through a robot which has humanoid-style body. But this gets better because they can swap robots like we can exchange hire cars and in this way can leap about the globe with some ease and at rapid pace. Option two is to effectively inhabit the body of a willing survivor of the disease for periods – i.e. one that hasn't been locked-in – and in this way experience life through a borrowed body. I've left out some of the fine detail here, but I'm sure you get the drift.

We follow one locked-in survivor from his first day as an FBI agent – yes, that’s right they can hold down jobs too – and a very busy day it is. And up to this point I was still with it – hanging in a bit, but still there. But then it started to get much more complex as things happened and more and more characters entered the frame. I began to have my doubts as to whether my imagination could accept the ever growing list of skills available to our lead man. But more disturbingly I realised that I didn't really care where this was going because I hadn't really become invested in the outcome for any of the characters. I hung in a bit longer but it just wasn't working for me. I gave up.

So what was the real problem here? Well two key issues for me were: 1) my personal dislike of stories with over-complex plots and a cast of thousands, and 2) it was starting to feel like one of those books where every problem is resolved by the disclosure of yet another new invention that just happens to fit this precise scenario. I hate both of these. The other problem was that it just became boring.

I'm afraid my rigid scoring system only allows one outcome for an unfinished book – so one star it is.
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Reading Progress

May 16, 2018 – Started Reading
May 16, 2018 – Shelved
May 16, 2018 – Shelved as: science-fiction
May 17, 2018 – Shelved as: not-finished
May 17, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace Sincere n honest review, Andrew!


Andrew Smith Diane wrote: "Sincere n honest review, Andrew!"

Thanks, Diane. I always feel slightly guilty when I fail to finish a book and consequently I seek to explain (to myself as much as to anyone else) this failure.


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) Andrew, at least you gave your reasons for why the book didn't resonate with you. That goes a long way for me. My ratings always look so high, but that's only because I don't rate DNF's at all. I don't recall the last time I had one but I basically sweep them under the rug and move on - hahaha


Andrew Smith Jaline wrote: "Andrew, at least you gave your reasons for why the book didn't resonate with you. That goes a long way for me. My ratings always look so high, but that's only because I don't rate DNF's at all. I d..."

I do sometimes abandon books early on and sweep them under the carpet too, Jaline. But if I've invested a little time in them I tend to record my thoughts. I got to a little over half way with this one (though I'd already given up once but relented and decided to give it a second chance).
I know you can't win 'em all - time to move on and pick up the next one 😊


Jaline - (on partial hiatus) Great thinking, Andrew - as readers it's so important to stay with the ideals that got us reading in the first place: to learn, to grow, to be entertained, to relax, to ENJOY! Hope your next one has all 5 Stars!! 😊


Andrew Smith Jaline wrote: "Great thinking, Andrew - as readers it's so important to stay with the ideals that got us reading in the first place: to learn, to grow, to be entertained, to relax, to ENJOY! Hope your next one ha..."

Spot on, Jaline 👍. And I'm pleased to say my latest book is a significant improvement.


Cecily I finished it, but was very disappointed. I thought it had a good central concept, but like you, found the exposition very crass: problem, previously unknown solution, next problem, rinse and repeat.


Andrew Smith Good on you for finishing it, Cecily. This feels like lazy writing to me and it always switches me off. And it’s a reason I’m usually quite picky about the sf books I read.


Cecily Yes, the writing was not great. I couldn't find a single line worth quoting (unusual for me). I kept reading because it was quick and easy, and the concept intrigued me.


Andrew Smith Cecily wrote: "Yes, the writing was not great. I couldn't find a single line worth quoting (unusual for me). I kept reading because it was quick and easy, and the concept intrigued me."

Yes, I believe the intruiguing concept wasn't matched by author's ability to tell the tale. A pity.


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