Review: The Dispatcher by John Scalzi

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.

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. Published by Audible Studios, October 2016. 2 hours and 18 mins. Narrated by Zachary Quinto. An Audible Original.

The plot of this little story sounded very fascinating. After reading the plot blurb, I just didn’t know what to expect. Is it zombies?? I just couldn’t tell. It’s not a very long audiobook so I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

The Dispatcher turned out to be a rather entertaining and thought-provoking piece of sci-fi noir. It took me a few minutes to figure out what exactly was going on in the very beginning. Things start to make sense once you find out what exactly the Dispatcher is there for.

At first, you think having a do over when you die would be a good thing, right? Everyone wants a second chance. The problem is that in this novel, you come back the same way you were just a few hours before you died. So? That doesn’t sound too bad, right? But… what if you are in an all day surgery, and you end up dying on the operating table? Well, time only gets rewind so far, and you will end up coming back to life – poof- teleported home…. but…. you only went back a few hours. So when you come back to life in your house, you will be bleeding and unconscious from the surgery. And then you will slowly die again. Only to come back to just a few hours before you died the second time. And on and on. Sometimes the damage and the time just leaves you with no way to live life in a humane way. That is where the Dispatchers come in. When someone is about to die and their body would be too broken to keep going on, a Dispatcher, who has a license to humanly take out a person so they will not return again.

The story really makes you think about the lengths you would go for a loved one to live. Is nigh-immortality a good thing? Maybe not so much. It also makes you realize that there can be worse things then death. 😮

The Dispatcher audiobook was narrated by the very talented actor Zachary Quinto. Normally Zachary plays bad guys, and he is a pretty epic bad guy. This time he was actually playing a good guy. His soft spoken voice was the perfect match for the main character. So soothing to listen to! I seriously can’t think of anyone else who would be a better fit. Quinto was decent with other voices. Not a huge amount of variety, but, really… he was such a perfect match for Tony that I just didn’t care if he had tons of variety for the other characters.

This was a really clever, well thought out story and I quite enjoyed it. Sadly, The Dispatcher is a stand alone novella. It was such a unique world, I would have loved to have had more information about what all was going on. So much you could explore with the Dispatcher job as well as just the average people who have to live in this confusing world when nobody knows or understands why people have stopped dying.

A very fast and fun story. Worth checking out. Very interesting plot that gives you a lot to think on. The narrator was a perfect pick for this story and really made the main character come alive. I really enjoyed this novella.

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