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Head On (Narrated by Amber Benson)

Written by: John Scalzi
Narrated by: Amber Benson
Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"As much as Scalzi has the scientific creativity of a Michael Crichton, he also has the procedural chops of a Stephen J. Canell to craft a whodunit with buddy-cop charm and suspects aplenty - most of them in someone else's body." (USA Today)

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the stand-alone follow-up to the New York Times best-selling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi's trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent's head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are "threeps", robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden's Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real, and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime investigators Chris Shane and Leslie Vann are called in to uncover the truth - and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

©2018 John Scalzi (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

No Will Weaton

Unfortunately to me Will Weaton brought John Scalzies characters to life. Without him the story is not the same. The story it self was not as strong as I am used to. But with out the original narrator it falls flat

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Craig
  • 2018-04-20

Great Sequel

This is both a great sequel to Lock In and also a good standalone novel. However, first time readers may be confused as much of the information about the origin of Haden syndrome is not mentioned. This is definitely an exciting and enjoyable read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark Hancock
  • 2018-04-20

Excellent book and narration

Loved it. Read in a day. Love the characters, the tech & world building, and narration. Someday would like to hear the series in the other narrator’s delivery, too, (but may wait for a sale).

Another grand Scalzi book!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • LooptyLoop
  • 2018-06-13

A fantastic book hampered by a mediocre reader.

I'm a huge fan of Lock In and Head On, but I don't think Amber Benson's narration matches up well with Will Wheaton's. Her lack of range for different character's voices is what really holds her back.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-05-03

Book is good. Narration is ok.

Darn! I didn't realize that Wheaton narrated this book also! I had listened to the one narrated by Amber Benson. When I listened to Lock In, I had Wheaton as the narrator. So having Benson as the narrator for this one, which she made the main character sound feminine, was throwing me off because I had always thought of Chris (the main character) as a man. It actually didn't occur to me that he wasn't. So having a feminine voice for Chris was actually starting to get on my nerves.

I thought the book was pretty good. I really like the characters and the world. The mysteries for this series are entertaining. However this one did get a little boring for a short amount of time. But over all it was pretty good. I'm curious as to what my rating would be if I would have listened to the Wheaton narration.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott Odle
  • 2018-04-19

great story, meh narration

The story is just as good as the first, Lock In. The characters and setting are the same, and there are some callbacks to the original, but there is enough context given for this novel to stand alone.

The gripping mystery, with just the right balance of action and comedy, is here in full force once again. The thought-provoking social commentary returns as well, this time turning its attention to professional sports and the culture surrounding them.

I find Amber Benson's delivery to be dry and hard-boiled, missing many of the story's whimsical notes. I had this criticism with Lock In as well, greatly preferring Wil Wheaton's performance. I look forward to hearing his version of Head On next.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jaime
  • 2018-04-23

Good story, lousy narration

After having listened to this version, I found out that the narrator of the first book, Wil Wheaton, had also narrated another release of the book.

This is not that version. The story is interesting and fast paced and very in keeping with Scalzi’s talent for creating a world and making its nuances alive and relevant and essential. This narrator, Amber Benson, reads it like she has a personal grudge against the characters. Her voice is belligerent when it doesn’t need to be, often nasal, often ending on an incongruous note. It made listening to this book a chore to be got through rather than an immersive romp to be enjoyed. I thoroughly questioned why they had given the narration to a female voice, when the protagonist is male, and the single female main supporting character is performed in such a gruff voice that one wonders if the narrator were trying to imply a gender swap had taken place.


Full disclosure: to my joy, I found the Wil Wheaton version and immediately returned this book so that I could purchase that version instead. Which is what I recommend: buy the book, but with He other narrator. You’ll enjoy it more.

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Ginger
  • 2019-11-01

Just a Detective Story

I wanted more stories from the near-future world of _Lock_In_, but this book is little more than a simple detective procedural. I still liked it, but it felt flatter, less engaging than I'd hoped.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carmen
  • 2019-10-23

Narrator sounds bored

The story itself is good, but the narrator makes it hard to pay attention. It seems like she is incredibly bored through the whole story. I'm only halfway through and I keep having to go back because I can't concentrate on her droning.

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  • Dorn Hetzel
  • 2019-01-21

wonderful reading of a good story

could have been a little longer but hopefully another book will be along soon to continue.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Keith Schrecengost
  • 2019-01-07

get the Will Wheaton version

I could only make it a small way in before I had to buy the Will Wheaton read version. I thought I was buying that one to begin with, but.... I had to buy the same book again. Make sure you get that one. This one has no inflection and sounds like a jumble of words instead of a story.