Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lock In

Title: Lock In
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Review:  Fun fact: apparently John Scalzi is one of the authors I recognize on sight. I recognized him at a restaurant, when he was in my neighborhood for the Lock In tour. I didn't go up to him, but instead I spontaneously bought a copy of Lock In despite the fact that I had reservations about the novella prequel, Unlocked.

Turned out, I liked Lock In better than the prequel. In format, the novel very much resembles a detective procedural. Chris Shane is a Hayden, which means his body is paralyzed, but his consciousness basically inhibits a robot called threep. He is starting his first week as an FBI agent, straight out of school. His partner is a much more experienced agent Leslie Vann.

The plot follows a pretty standard format of murder, investigation, plot twist, good guys win, It was entertaining, but not particularly exceptional in any way. I liked the characters though -- everyone seemed natural, quirky, and easy to like. I was a bit taken aback by how fast Chris and Vann's relationship evolved, but it made sense for the book.

One part of the book that stood out to me is Scalzi's clear intent to paint a much more liberal world than ours. Even though there's conflict and prejudice against Haydens, there are openly gay couples, and cross-gender Integrators (people who carry someone else in their mind), and a very open-minded opinion on whether Haydens are really disabled humans or really something different. Perhaps this wouldn't stand out to someone who doesn't read the author's blog, but it stuck out to me that the world very much conformed to Scalzi's views of how things ought to be. I generally don't mind his ideas, but I wonder if it's realistic to expect some of these things in the near future where Lock In takes place.

All in all, it's a pretty entertaining book. The premise of Haydens works well and is explored in various cool ways (Chris goes through several different bodies in the line of duty and also travels instantaneously). I would definitely recommend it as easy reading -- and I wonder if Scalzi is planning a sequel, there's definitely lots of room left for another story with the same characters.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Queen of Hearts

Title: Queen of Hearts
Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: A Royal Spyness Mystery, book 8
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2014
Rating: 6.5/10

Review:  This definitely qualifies as one of the guilty pleasure  books. I needed something to read for a flight and this was a perfect book to occupy the time.

In this installment, Georgiana travels with her mother to the United States on a cruise ship. During the cruise, jewels get stolen, and Georgiana gets involved in the investigation along with Darcy, who just so happened to be on the ship. Georgiana and her mother travel to Reno to get a divorce (for Georgina's mother) and then end up in Hollywood.

I didn't necessarily like the change of scenery -- I prefer the mysteries set in England, but I guess it's nice to get some variety as this series is getting rather formulaic. I figured out whodunit pretty far ahead of time, but still enjoyed the situational comedy in various parts of the book. It was great to see Queenie stand up for her rights and then quit. Of course, she ends up coming back, but I enjoyed this sub-plot.

Queen of Hearts was a quick and enjoyable read, but at the same time I feel like the author is running out of fresh material. I am not sure whether I would continue with the series, unless I have another flight to fill.