John Scalzi’s Lock In introduces the reader to a world in the near future where millions of people have been affected by a virus that immobilizes the body but leaves the brain fully functional, while others have had their brains altered but still have fully functional bodies. Those who are immobilized are “locked in” and can use “threeps,” or robotic bodies, to interact with others in the physical world; those who have had their brain chemistry changed but have had no other physical effects are called Integrators and can allow those who have been “locked in” to borrow their bodies for a time. Hadens, those who have lost the ability to use their bodies due to this virus, find themselves in a new community that can exist outside of the physical realm, because they are not attached to their bodies. Scalzi does some interesting world-building and purposefully leaves the protagonist, Chris Shane, ambiguous. For example, Chris’s gender and race are hardly mentioned, which leaves the reader to interpret how Chris interacts with the world as an FBI agent looking to solve a murder that may have involved Hadens. I appreciated Scalzi’s subtle inclusion of diversity in the novel, and I look forward to reading more from him.
This book (available as an ebook through OverDrive!) will obsess you, so don’t read it when you have anything else important going on, like Finals… or breakfast. What would happen if zombies were real? How would world governments respond? Would they save us? Evacuate us? Lie to us? Kill us? How would people respond? Would we protect each another? Would we survive? World War Z is told as “an oral history of the Zombie War,” but really, it’s about people. Whereas the movie World War Z follows one character (portrayed by Brad Pitt) through the outbreak and rapid spread of the global zombie virus, the book takes place after the fact (12 years after the end of the war). Written as a series of interviews with survivors of the War. Each chapter is from a different person’s perspective on different stages of the Zombie outbreak, from a Chinese village doctor to an American profiteer selling fake anti-zombie pills. The temporal shift in the telling means that you know these people survived the War, so the book is engrossing without being unimaginably stressful (a plus if you’re not always a horror fan). World War Z is a must-read, especially for fans of dystopian disaster books like Daniel Wilson’s Robopocalypse, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or Justin Cronin’s The Passage. – Mrs. Cranston, Harker librarian