I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
John Scalzi is apparently a rising star in the SF genre, but this is the first of his books I've read. I'd heard all kinds of positive things about his writings however, so my expectations were quite high. And although this novel is far from perfect, I was not disappointed.
After Haden's disease struck, approximately one percent of the people infected experienced lock in, being completely aware of everything that happens around them and with their body but unable to move a single muscle. I guess it's only the voluntary muscle movement that's impossible because the victims of lock in are always described as seemingly 'sleeping', so I suppose they can breathe and digest food on their own. Because being paralysed without a single way to contact anyone isn't really a nice way to live, 'threeps' were invented, some kind of robots that can they can move around and use to talk with their brain waves. It's a lucrative business... And then there's also some people, called Integrators, who can kind of function as the robots and allow people in their brains for some reason.
The novel starts with an info-dump, which was the main reason why I kept postponing starting this book. Most of it is more like background or introduction, because I think you'll be perfectly fine when you skip it and start the book immediately. You won't really miss anything because all will become clear very soon. At times though, Lock in was still quite info-dense, more telling than showing.
Chris Shane and his threep are about to start his new job with the FBI, but his first week turns out to be more complicated than he could've imagined. And not just because he's a locked in Haden's victim. He was an interesting character, as was his new FBI partner. I feel there's a lot of background information about the two that will probably become more clear in the sequel(s). Of course, the robots powered by people's brains is a real SF part, but for the rest this novel reads more like political intrigue or, as you wish, a murder mystery. No matter what genre you would in the end decide to file Lock in under, it was an interesting and enjoyable read and I will be looking forward to reading more of John Scalzi's novels.