The Dispatcher by John Scalzi - Audiobook review

Write on: Mon, 17 Feb 2020 by  in Janelle's Reviews Read 1606

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3/5 stars

This was an interesting listen for me. On the one hand, I felt like the story itself was unique. You have a man who kills people but isn’t an assassin (or at least, not really), an FBI agent who doesn’t follow the rules, and a missing man who maybe isn’t actually missing? But on the other hand, the main character didn’t feel fleshed out, and maybe a bit inconsistent. The prose was a bit stale, too. But I think many people will like the story itself. 

But let me start at the beginning. This is an Audible special, is 2 hours and 18 minutes long (so if you like short listens, maybe this is for you), and reads like a modern fantasy. It’s set in a time when people who die can be brought back to life, given a specific circumstance: they are murdered, or, their death is purposeful. So say someone falls off a bridge on accident… too bad, they can’t be brought back. But say that person falls of a bridge, and is still alive, and someone shoots them in the head to kill them? They will awaken in their home, completely naked, and alive. 

Enter the role of a Dispatcher. The have a special device that they use to kill people. They are specifically trained, and are hired out by insurances, private hires (usually the wealthy), governments, Mafia members, you name it. The cultural effects of bringing people back to life are far-reaching: if your loved one is sick and might die from an illness, you can hire a Dispatcher to kill them before the disease takes them. Then your loved one will re-awaken in their home. 

The premise itself was fascinating to me. However, the things I didn’t like outnumbered the things I did like. The main character, Tony Valdez, was pretty stale. He was just… not that interesting. This is probably just a personal preference issue for me, because I’m fairly certain most readers won’t care. But I felt like his mannerisms, though processes, and motivations weren’t engaging enough for me. I mean, I didn’t dislike him. But I didn’t like him, either. 

All in all, I think this story might really hit well with fans of modern fantasy, and fans of stories with unique premises.


By day Janelle is a nurse, mother to two autistic sons, and writer. By night, she's immersed in other worlds. Reading fantasy is her happy place. And drinking wine. And eating tacos. 

Grab her flintlock fantasy series The Rodasia Chronicles, or her epic fantasy series The Steward Saga on Amazon.