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Head On (Narrated by Wil Wheaton)

Written by: John Scalzi
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (279 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. Cannell 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

Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good followup, not as great as the original

I enjoyed the book, though not as much as I did the original. If you enjoyed the first book and the world it built, then this is a nice return, however it fails to build on the premise in any profound way. it's ultimately more of the same, which isn't a bad thing.

#Audible1

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, mediocre narration

The book itself was pretty good. Good world building, characters were a little one note. The mystery itself was fun and entertaining.

The one thing I didn't like about the book itself was the dialogue. Every character talked the same. They all spoke in snarky, clever Joss Whedon-esque witticisms that felt disingenuous and hollow.

Wil Wheaton's narration was boring and all of the characters sounded the same.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story - First was better

I enjoyed this book but I preferred the first in the series much more. Will Wheaton is one of my favorite narrators for audiobooks and is why I got this one as well. will look for more from him but not sure if I will from John Scalzi. unless it's another in this series because I always read a full series. Haha

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator concern

Sometimes it can be hard to tell who is talking when Will Wheaton narrates things. I have found this on several of his narrations. Overall I don't mind him but I prefer a narrator who provides more consistent variation between character voices. In this book, ask characters sound like Will Wheaton, and that gets confusing.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Solid sequel to Lock In

A solid sequel to "Lock In", rejoining Haden's Syndrome sufferer Chris as he or she (it's never stated) pilots their android "threep" body around investigating crime. Newly joined to the FBI, Chris accompanies snarky partner Vann as they investigate the possible murder of another Haden's victim and professional athlete in the Hilketa league (a violent sport in which androids attempt to decapitate each other to score goals).

Basically an easy-reading detective story set in a slightly future earth, you don't really need to have read the previous book "Lock In" but you'll definitely have a bit more background if you do. It's a light, amusing read that goes down like candy and probably won't stay in memory extremely long, but entertains while it lasts.

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Great story, pretty bad narration.

I enjoyed the story quite a lot. However it was difficult to follow because of the narration. It sounds as though he's just reading through word by word. Very little inflection and minimal voice changes for different characters. Very unfortunate.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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fantastic romp with detective aspects.

loved this book. Will Wheaton do a his best work to try and voice the varying cast of characters and does very well in my opinion.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Terrific book

It's a John Scalzi book... it's excellent. Well developed plot with several twists and moments of humour. Brilliant writing and wonderful narration. An excellent sequel to Lock In.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Sci fi sports and murder

Good stuff. Very real feel to the world without over burdening the listeners with unnecessary details. Story flows well

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

for fans of Locked In

Will Wheaton did not do this story any good. To me, all the voices sounded the same. His tone also seemed bored. I did like the story in spite of that. I must admit I am a huge John Scalzi fan. The concept of this book took a little getting use to, I don"t like excessive violence.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. White
  • So. CA
  • 2018-04-17

THIS is why I read SciFi! Scalzi gets into your head (be it on or off)

I don't know if you can call this a non-bias review considering I pre-ordered the book, downloaded it at 12:01am on its release date, and then promptly put in a marathon listening session to complete the book. To say that I'm a John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton fanboy would be an understatement. With that said, I did fully enjoy the book. I felt it fell slightly short of "Locked In" (think the difference between an "A" and an "A-"). As with the pervious book, the supposedly intelligent individuals perpetrating the cover up/conspiracy do some awfully stupid things (not to mention how conveniently agent Shane just happens to be in the "right place at the right time") but that is not the point of "Head On". The point is the journey and the immersive everyday details that Scalzi incorporates into the fascinating alternative Haden reality. As with all of Scalzi's previous efforts, the book is filled with snarky quick witted characters that are maybe a bit too sarcastic for their own good, but add to the enjoyable atmosphere of the book. What I really found interesting was how Scalzi raised several thought provoking issues such fidelity in Haden culture, discrimination of "normals" in the Haden culture, and even why being a Haden doesn't preclude someone from being a crazy cat owner ;) The bottom line is simply this... This IS a John Scalzi book, if you have enjoyed any of his other works, then you will enjoy this further exploration into the Haden universe.

43 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara
  • 2018-08-06

favorite new Scalzi series

I'm a big fan of John Scalzi's novels, and the Lock In series is becoming a favorite. Head On is the sequel to Scalzi's 2014 book Lock In, and I'd definitely recommend reading Lock In first, if you haven't already. The series takes place in the near future, following a pandemic flu that has left many people 'locked in' and suffering from Haden's syndrome -- they're mentally alert but unable to move or speak. They're freed from lock-in by android-like personal vehicles ("threeps") that connect to their brains through a neural network and allow them to move around in the world. The protagonist of the series is Chris Shane, a Haden who joins the FBI and solves crimes that involve other Hadens. The world of Hadens makes for a lot of interesting plot twists and some thought-provoking moments about what it means to be human.

One of the things I really enjoy about this series, and a tribute to Scalzi's talent as a writer, is that both Lock In and Head On are written in a gender-neutral way -- Scalzi never states whether Chris Shane is male or female. So it's really fun to listen to both narrations, one by Wil Wheaton (who's my favorite narrator for anything Scalzi related) and another version by Amber Benson. Both narrators are excellent, and if you can afford to get both versions of the book, it's worth listening to both.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • The Office Troll
  • 2019-03-25

Disappointing sequel

Didn't really feel like there was much to this story. I really enjoyed the first one, so I found this to be disappointing at best.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • T. Brown
  • Texas
  • 2018-05-02

Good Lock-in Universe Story

If you liked Lock In, then you’ll like this. Not too much rehashing of main themes. Still touches on some interesting thought experiments about a world with Lockins. Reads like a good crime novel with some good one-liners. I thought it was just a bit over complicated in the end. But in all fairness, it’s not like anybody would read the book if it was a simple whodunnit and where it took months/years to solve the mystery like it would with the real FBI.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Brian
  • 2019-03-09

Just ok

It is a semi-interesting story that ends up just falling flat after awhile. It had great potential but it never really took off. There were a slew of characters that weren’t even really necessary. I think this series has potential if the author actually commits to it being a sci-fi murder mystery story and less a political drama (which this one felt like). Will Wheaton is one reason I bought it - he is absolutely one of the best narrators.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacob C
  • 2019-02-06

Great narration, average story

I generally very much enjoy Scalzi’s books, but this one just felt like it lacked the depth, twists and turns of his others. Wheaton was a great narrator as always.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Petra Volkhausen
  • 2018-05-07

Wonderful world building

Bought the follow-up to Lock In since I greatly enjoyed the world setting Scalzi came up with (don’t miss the accompanying novella which provides more details on the Hayden syndrome and how it changed the world!) and was eager to learn more about the everyday lives of Haydens. Wasn’t disappointed in regards to that, but I wish the main characters where less 2D. While the protagonist is a pleasant fella, the “I’m the biggest asshole in the room”-attitude of his partner, already too on the nose in the first book, gets old and annoying really fast this time.

Also, while I love listening to Wil Wheaton, I wonder why they chose a white actor to voice the protagonist who is also the narrator - and a black dude.

All in all, I’d love to hear more from a world with Haydens, but then hopefully with better fleshed-out main characters so I can get emotionally invested in the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew D.
  • 2018-04-18

Every bit as good as Lock In

Very good futuristic detective novel. The world of Lock In was expanded in a very good way in this novel. I finished the book in a day and that never happens for me. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 2019-01-24

Meh

Kinda boring. While listening to it while driving it was more background noise than anything that kept me engrossed. It was interesting enough for me not to return it, but I wouldn't have bothered getting it knowing what I know now.
After hearing all the other great narrators out there, I'm finding Wheaton isn't all that great.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gregg
  • HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA, US
  • 2019-01-22

Not Scalzi’s best

The plot was a little convoluted and the story got a little preachy. Usually when I listen to Scalzi, I find myself laughing out loud and people around me think I might be nuts. The story didn’t have one lmao moment. Okay book—but I always look forward with anticipation to a Scalzi book—I expect much better. Will Wheaton was great as usual.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful