Author: Laura Lam
Genre: Science Fiction Thriller
Series: False Hearts #1
Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication: June 14, 2016 by Tor Books
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Raised in the closed cult of Mana’s Hearth and denied access to modern technology, conjoined sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they share begins to fail, the twins escape to San Francisco, where they are surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursue lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.
Ten years later, Tila returns one night to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder—the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Tila is suspected of involvement with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate that deals in the flow of Zeal, a drug that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life. But during her investigation Taema discovers disturbing links between the twins’ past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.
The story follow sisters, Tila and Taema, formally conjoined twin but separated at the age of sixteen. That in and of itself was enough to pique my curiosity but then Lam adds in former cult members, the drug cartel distributing drugs that enables the user to enact their deepest, darkest fantasies, tech that monitored everything you do, to flesh parlors that changes identities/appearance and you’ve got a whopper of the book. That was just the tip of the iceberg to what a crazy brilliant book this was.
Within the first few pages I was enthralled. The story was narrated by both sisters as we are taken back to Mana-ma’s Hearth to Taema’s undercover mission to infiltrate The Ratel (The last criminal organization of SF) to help save her sister from being placed in stasis (frozen); which was the equivalent to a death sentence. As with most novels set in the future, the gadgets and terminology could get overwhelming or confusing at times. However, that was never the case here. The book was set in the year 2055 but Lam did a stellar job at breaking down and explaining in detail the technology, the drugs Zeal and Verve and the lucid dreaming aspects in such a straightforward manner that it was easy to understand and digest. I was never once confused and the more I delved deeper into the world Lam created, the more I wanted to be swept away into the story to escape reality. Even though half the time I found 2055 SF terrifying, I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough!
While Tila and Taema are twins, they couldn't be more opposite of one another. Tila was more of a risk taker, she wasn't afraid of asking questions or breaking rules. While Taema tried to blend in with society and was a stickler for following principles. Even their profession were totally different with Tila working in the zeal/verge lounges and Taema working for a Sudice Corporation. While we get both of the sisters' point-of-view, this novel was really about Taema going out of her comfort zone and doing whatever it took to save someone she loves. What I liked most about Taema is while she was undercover and had to pretend to be someone else and do things she didn't want to do she was still in a way true to herself (that's make more sense once you read the book). Also, the actions she took didn't seem far fetch but realistic and mirrored our own world. Which is kind of hard to do in scifi/fantasy worlds in my opinion; to me that's important, to make this fictitious world and its characters believable.
I loved False Hearts and it was everything I didn't know I wanted. If you’re looking for an original, high-octane, edge of your seat novel with so many twists and turns that it will leave you speechless then you need to pick up False Hearts immediately. I am flabbergasted that I haven’t heard more about this book prior to its publication or seeing more reviews for it among the blogoshere because there’s a lot to love about False Hearts. This book was clever and exceptional, and as Taema pieces the clues together the revelations will blow your mind! This is my first book by Lam but it will definitely not be my last. Again, you guys need to read it A.S.A.P; you won’t regret it. I promise. It is a must read and deserve to be on the keeper shelf!