Below you’ll find the fairly spoiler-free review of Head On, the sequel to Lock In, which I reviewed about 18 months ago. You can find that (slightly more spoilery) review here.
The short version: I liked it. A lot. For specifics, read the review below:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Several sports franchises have had unfortunate deaths happen during gameplay, but when the athletes aren’t on the field because they are Hadens remotely connected to robot bodies, there must be something else going on. Enter our protagonist, one Chris Shane, to solve the mystery! What ensues is a basic who-done-it set in a very non-basic world. The things that set this apart from other mystery stories are the sci-fi elements and the banter and wit of the narrator and Agent Vann (our narrator’s partner).
In this book, we revisit the not-too-distant future first set up for us in the book Lock In. If you haven’t read that one, you might be a little confused about some of what’s going on, though the most important parts are explained well enough that you don’t HAVE to read the original in order to follow what’s happening in this book. I read the first one about 18 months ago, and I was able to jump right back into this world with no trouble.
Chris Shane, the narrator and main character, talks directly to the reader, and when we encounter something that was previously discussed in detail in the earlier book, Shane gives a little explanation that feels almost conspiratorial in tone. I think that feeling of being part of the investigation, as if the readers are part of the story, adds to the enjoyment factor of this story.
As for the plot itself, it was pretty basic once we get into the who-done-it part. As an English teacher and an aspiring author, I have lots of discussions about the craft of writing, and so it is possible that my knowledge of the craft is the reason why I was able to spot all the twists and clues as they came out. As each new character was introduced, and the way they interacted with Shane and Vann, I was pretty able to figure out how they fit into the scheme of the original death. For instance, as soon as it was shown who the lover of the victim was, I knew exactly why the death happened.
In spite of the predictability of it, I found myself unable to put the book down. I was waiting for the moment when the characters figured out some of what I already knew. The characters are so strong and have such distinct personalities, that I relished their reactions.
Plus, it’s not as if there were NO surprises. For instance, a good portion of what happened with the cat was surprising. And humorous!
I really love Scalzi’s writing style!
Basically, I think this was a fun read. It’s not as great as the first one in the series, Lock In, but it does convince me that this can be a long series of sci-fi/crime stories.