Ahoy there mateys! Though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do recommend books to each other. Books the first mate introduced to me included xom-b, holes, and the perks of being a wallflower. He and I both read the following:
the dispatcher (John Scalzi)
We were talking about the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I
ordered asked him to write a review. So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew. Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks. Hope you enjoy!
From the Captain:
This was me first attempt at an audio book. While I have no real interest in them, this novella has only been released in audio book format and I wanted to read it. Having no way to get a hold of it otherwise, the first mate and I listened to this one together.
In terms of the audio book experience, I could do without. The first mate listens to them frequently. Now to be fair, I thought that the narration of this story as performed by Zachary Quinto was extremely well done. Way back in the day I listened to radio plays and enjoyed the medium. Now, I just feel like listening to a book is too darn slow. I can read much faster. The first mate claims that ye can listen to audio books at enhanced speeds so maybe that would help. And of course the short length of the novella was a bonus. But overall I want text.
Now the beginning of the novella was extremely well set-up. I loved the concept that 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back to life and that there are Dispatchers whose job it is to take advantage of this “glitch” for the betterment of society. I totally enjoyed the main character, a Dispatcher named Tony Valdez and how we were introduced to both him and his work.
But I have to admit that once the set-up is over and we get into the mystery plot of the novella I was not as excited. I mean it was fun and enjoyable but seemingly predictable in terms of the hows and whys of the who-dun-it. The world itself was the fascinating part and it was not explored nearly enough. We get glimpses of a crazy underworld, snippets of how Dispatching affects “normal folks,” and tidbits of the varied uses of Dispatching.
I sorta wish there had been no murder mystery. Of course there was a scene involving frat boys that made me happy and chuckle. I don’t believe this is Scalzi’s best work but it was worth me time for what it was.
From the First Mate:
Very interesting premise. Execution was middle of the road. Like with “Lock In,” Scalzi sets up a society-changing situation and then uses it to tell a more or less mundane noir story. The noir story is well written and the main character is fun, but the character of the detective is practically worthless (she exists solely to have the main character explain the world she lives in to her). Basically, the sci-fi elements of the story weren’t central (you could tell the same missing person story set in 1920s Chicago) and are merely whiz-bang moments.
Side Note: Apparently a print version will be coming out in 2017!
Goodreads has this to say about the book:
One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.
Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.
It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.
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