In the near distant future, a new virus takes its place on the world stage; the majority of those who are infected suffer flu like symptoms, a smaller percent suffer meningitis-like symptoms. While many of the smaller group die, a few survive and find that they are “locked in” to their own body, fully aware but unable to move or respond to their surroundings. While the numbers of those locked in are small comparative to the total population, about 1.7 million people in the U.S. alone must deal with this condition. Technology comes to the rescue, creating a new “virtual” environment called the Agora, where lock in’s can interact with each other and with those in the real world. This technology also allows lock in’s to put themselves into robotic bodies called “threeps,” (after C3PO, natch!) so they can interact with the physical world. A few virus survivors, called integrators, have the new ability to allow lock in’s to “borrow” their human body and use it as their own, for a price. Enter Chris Shane, FBI agent and a lock in who works his job both via a threep and via the Agora. His partner, Louise Vann is one of the rare individuals who can allow lock ins to borrow her body. When integrators start dying, and a major medical research firm is blown up, the FBI fears a deeper conspiracy. Someone, it seems, is trying to use the lock in’s and their special needs for their own profit or gain. It’s up to Shane and Vann to figure out whom, before the conflict escalates beyond repair.
This book reminded me of “I, Robot,” by Isaac Asimov, in that it explored what it means to be human. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller, with great pacing, snappy dialogue, and a thought-provoking plot. I highly recommend it.