Title: False Hearts
Author: Laura Lam
Who’s it for? Adults. Not that I think that teens wouldn’t enjoy it, but it does involve sex, drugs and violence…so personal preference I guess
What’s it about? One night Tila stumbles home, terrified and covered in blood. She’s then 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 to bring down the drug syndicate. The police may then let her sister live. However, Taema’s investigation raises ghosts from the twins’ past.
The sisters were raised by a cult, which banned modern medicine – yet as conjoined twins, they needed life-saving surgery to replace their failing heart. And with help from co-conspirators, they escaped. Taema now discovers that Tila had found links between the cult and the city’s criminal underworld. The twins were once unable to keep secrets, but will learn the true cost of lies.[Blurb taken from the book]
What’s good about it? Oh my word, is it too much to say everything?!?! I mean, I love, love, LOVED Laura Lam’s Micah Grey series and her writing style, so I had high hopes anyway. But actually her style is so different in this – I mean, it has to be, False Hearts is told from the point of view of Taema – and Tila and so tonally it’s very different from her other books I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, it should be and it really works, but it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting (in a good way).
Taema and Tila are identical, conjoined twins (separated in an operation at the age of 16) and though they are similar, they aren’t identical people. Even without the shift in typography and the chapter heading stating which twin was narrating, it’s easier to tell who’s speaking, because they sound different. It can be all too easy to write a story where your characters just sound like clones of each other, but that’s not the case here. And I loved it.
The driving force of this book is really the relationship between Taema and Tila, as for 16 years they were unable to have secrets from each other but as adults…well…it got a lot easier. It’s the push and pull of the secrets between them that I felt really helped keep me interested in the plot, beyond the main ‘going undercover’ plot line.
The world-building is excellent. Truly excellent. It’s sci-fi at its best where the tech is simultaneously a wonder and a terror – for example Taema has an implant in her ear that at one point she plugs a data pod into it. That’s right, she has the high-tech equivalent of a USB port in her head, which was seriously unnerving but is no big deal in the book. Every detail in the story feels both plausible and real, without any noticeable chunks of info-dumping. Trust me, it’s great.
I love how there wasn’t really any good or bad in the book, everything was realistically shrouded in grey. Moralistically speaking some choices were clear, but others were a lot more difficult to fathom out. The Zeal helped reduce crime levels and helped people live calmer, more satisfied lives, but on the flipside also had its own entourage of addicts, unable to live in the real world when their fantasies were just that much better.
What’s bad about it? In case you’ve not guessed from the above, I. LOVED. THIS.
The verdict? I HAVE MANY FEELINGS! This is an amazing read, a solid piece of sci-fi, with an intriguing, twisty plot and a cast of wonderfully diverse characters. I loved the diversity in this. I loved that one of the main characters stated “I’m bi.” without any shame or wiggle-room for people to pretend otherwise. I loved that sexuality and the way people chose to live their lives was so open in this universe. I loved Taema and her quiet, terrified strength and her willingness to do whatever it took to help Tila. I loved Tila and her fierce determination, creativity and stubbornness. I just…I just loved it, okay? This has been one of my favourite reads this year and I genuinely can’t recommend it enough.