Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

I love science fiction, and I love mysteries and crime fiction. I also love clever, original writing. So when you put all three of these together, you're guaranteed to get a masterpiece, right? Most of the time I find myself disappointed when several things I like are put together, but not this time.

The Dispatcher is a science fiction mystery written by John Scalzi. It is an Audiobook exclusive for now, but a hardcover version is coming out this summer.


The Dispatcher takes place in a time when for some unexplained reason, whenever someone is killed, they come back to life 99.9% of the time. If the person dies for any other reason, he doesn't come back. Taking advantage of this, a new occupation is created, that of dispatcher, who can legally kill people who are ready to die anyway so they can continue living. And, of course, such a moral grey area and a whole new rule of living is going to cause a few problems.

The Good

Concept. This is actually a pretty original concept. I've never heard or read it before, and I read and watch A LOT of science fiction. It's also a pretty cool concept with a lot of possibilities and a lot of moral and practical implications, many of which are explored in good detail and depth.

Mystery. The main story revolves around a mystery of a kidnapping/possible murder and power plays between several powerful individuals and law enforcement. It's a very classic story that one will instantly recognize and easily get into, but the unique twist and engaging characters make is feel fresh and new. The end contains a nice twist that is mostly surprising, but the author included enough foreshadowing that it fells right and not contrived or cheating.

Narration. This audiobook is narrated by Zachary Quinto of Star Trek fame. Normally I find his voice and delivery to be too even and flat, but for this story it worked. To be a dispatcher, you need to be fairly cold and distant, and Zach captures that tone.

The Bad

Pace. This type of story requires a measured pace, but this story moves just a little too slowly. 

What I Would Like to Have Seen

Other than a quicker pace, I couldn't find any fault with the story. I was completely satisfied at the end and wouldn't mind reading more stories from this world


The Dispatcher takes the classic mystery/crime thriller story and gives it a really clever, original twist that makes it feel like I'm reading this type of story for the first time. The writing is strong, the characters are interesting, and the twists and turns are satisfying and feel right and not cheating. I give it a solid 4.5 out of 5 eReaders.



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