by John Scalzi
reviewed by Sophia Wilson
John Scalzi’s Lock In is not your average dystopian sci-fi novel. It follows Haden’s Syndrome affected, brand new FBI agent, Chris Shane and his feisty partner, agent Leslie Vann. The novel opens with an article on Haden’s Syndrome, providing important information that is needed to understand the plot.
Let’s get in the mindset of this book: Haden’s syndrome has affected “more than 2.75 billion people worldwide… during the disease’s initial wave.” (Scalzi 9). But a small amount of those who were sick experience “lock in”, meaning that they are paralyzed but still able to use their brains. These people, called “Hadens”, are able to participate in society by way of robots (threeps) or by way of Integrators. Integrators are able to let Hadens use their body as an alternative for a threep. On his first day, partners Shane and Vann are placed in charge of a Haden-Integrator murder, which can get very complicated. As the novel progresses, more murders ensue until they find out what is really going on inside everyone’s head.
Chris Shane and Leslie Vann’s relationship is one of a kind in that Scalzi seamlessly ties their personalities together. Agent Shane has a quick-witted nature and is not at all slowed down by his use of a threep. Agent Vann is an ex-Integrator, therefore she has a lot of experience with the kind of case they work on. This was a smart decision by the author because it allows the novel to flow by continuing the progress of their investigation. Although the plot is over a short period of time, the growth of their connection is visible. Scalzi uses Vann to push Shane, and by the end of the novel, it seems that they work like a well-oiled machine to find the criminal.
Lock In has an underlying tone of political turmoil, which could even be related to today’s recent political struggles. Scalzi swiftly ties it in by showing the different effects government decisions can have on each person. He writes “‘Ah. Right. The one person at the table whose business isn’t affected by [the] Abrams-Kettering [Bill].’” (Scalzi 97). There is that slight acknowledgment to the reader’s world that helps make this book even more enjoyable.
Overall, Lock In brings together the aspects of a fun free-read and critically acclaimed work.