Tuesday, 12 September 2017

False Hearts by Laura Lam

False Hearts by Laura Lam is the first science fiction novel from the author that brought us the Micah Grey fantasy YA trilogy, which started with Pantomime. In further contrast with her earlier books, False Hearts is also not YA. (I would be fine giving in to a teen to read, however — I certainly read "worse" in my teens.)

One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood.

She’s arrested for murder, the first by a civilian in decades. The San Francisco police suspect involvement with Verve, a powerful drug, and offer her twin sister Taema a chilling deal. Taema must assume Tila’s identity and gather information – then if she brings down the drug syndicate, the police may let her sister live. But Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.

The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine. But as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to divide their shared heart – and escaped. Taema now finds Tila discovered links between the cult and the city’s underground. Once unable to keep secrets, the sisters will discover the true cost of lies.

This is a moderately dark book although this is not because of a dystopian setting. At least, not what I would call a straightforward dystopian setting. It's more of a utopia gone slightly awry. The government seems a little bit questionable, but it's mainly the obvious bad guys — drug cartel, cult leader — who are up to no good. Since the story deals directly with these people, it's falls firmly on the darker side of neutral.

I enjoyed this book, which was told from the points of view of both formerly conjoined twins. I think of Taema as the main character and the central story follows her as she tries to work out what happened to her sister and why Taking on her sister's identity and going undercover forces her to question who she is and what her limits really are, which is an interesting journey for the readers to follow her on. Meanwhile, Tila writes about the twins' youth in the cult of the Hearth and their escape to San Francisco.

Overall, this book is a science fiction thriller and I think it would make an excellent movie. Taema's encounters with the drug cartel are exciting, dangerous and drive the story forward. Meanwhile, the twins' origin story has both happy and sinister moments. Get on it, Hollywood.

I recommend False Hearts to fans of science fiction, especially near-future science fiction. Readers of thrillers will hopefully also enjoy it. There is another book, Shattered Minds, set in the same world but with different protagonists, which I am now keen to read when I can find time in my reading schedule.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2016, Macmillan
Series: Sort of? There is another standalone novel set in the same world
Format read: ePub on Kobo
Source: Purchased from Kobo store

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