False Hearts by Laura Lam
Publisher: Tor Books UK
I won a copy of this book from a Twitter competition run by Tor UK. I was not obligated to write a review for this book. This review is spoiler-free.
What originally drew me to False Hearts was the absolutely weird concept:
Orphan Black meets Inception: Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult.
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.*
Conjoined twins! Cults! Dystopian San Francisco! Murder! I took one look and realised that this would be a unique read and just ticks so many boxes for me. I was really impressed by this book — I ended up really enjoying it and am officially a Laura Lam fan. She manages to build a creepy, dark, noir San Francisco that is both familiar and bizarre. You get such a sense of grime in a city that should be a utopia — people can make themselves effortlessly beautiful, incredible technologies change lives, and civilian crime is unusual. However, it is far from a perfect place and there’s a dark underbelly of this city — this is where we spend most of our time. Taema interacts with the worst of the worst in order to uncover the truth behind the murder her sister is accused of.
One of the best aspects of this book is the narrative style. The book is constructed as a dual narrative — Taema narrates her present situation going undercover as her sister while Tila recounts their past as members of an isolationist cult. I usually have issues with dual narratives because, to be perfectly frank, one is almost always far more interesting than the other. But this wasn’t the case in False Hearts. The noir crime story told from Taema’s perspective as she infiltrates one of the biggest and most frightening crime organizations in the city is just as fascinating as Tila’s reminicing of their childhood in and escape from Mana’s Hearth on the outskirts of the city. Both sides of the story were so fascinating and so well-paced that I didn’t end up preferring one narrative over the other.
The characterization was fantastic. Taema and Tila’s connection as formerly conjoined twins is worked beautifully into the story, particularly in a city that so values perfection. Both Taema and Tila were such strong characters — Tila is the more outwardly fierce twin while Taema discovers her inner strength. The pair’s dedication for each other is admirable and is incredibly well written. The secondary characters are strong and interesting — they compliment our heroes and help the story flow and the tension rise.
False Hearts is the first of Laura Lam’s book that I’ve read and it certainly wont be the last. It’s a faced paced, dystopian thriller unlike any other. If you’re interested in reading something a little different this summer, look no further.
If you read and loved False Hearts, you’re in luck! Lam is released another standalone novel based in the same worldthis month.
Have you read False Hearts? Have you read any of the author’s other books? Let me know!
*copy courtesy of Goodreads