Title: False Hearts
Author: Laura Lam
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: April 20th 2017
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟
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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.
Set in a futuristic San Francisco, False Hearts is written in the dual perspective of formerly conjoined twins Taema and Tila. The book is pitched as Orphan Black meets Inception, and being a huge fan of the former I couldn’t resist adding it to my TBR. However, ultimately, I was more disappointed than impressed.
As well as switching between the sisters, the narrative alternates between the past and present, demonstrating the stark contrast between San Francisco and Mana’s Hearth – one highly modernised through technology and the other priding itself on being ‘Pure’ of man-made influences. Whilst this was interesting to begin with, I quickly got tired of hearing what felt like the same things being said over and over again. By the end, I literally could not care less about where the twins originated from.
Outside of the ‘cult’ island, the world-building is complex. Everything revolves around tech, and this was both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. VeriChips for identification, flesh parlours for changing appearance, implants for modification, and replicators for pretty much everything? There’s even synthetic alcohol? Mostly, there’s Zeal and a more powerful and dangerous drug called Verve. This is the part where I lost interest. The drug induced dreamscapes just confused me to the point I stopped caring about the book.
I guess the only intriguing part is the mystery of how Mana’s Hearth is linked to the Ratel – the criminal underworld of San Francisco – but even then I guessed the revelation so I can’t say it shocked me. I also don’t feel as if it concluded properly, wrapping up all the loose threads. Because I’m honestly still confused. I have no idea what I actually read?
Overall, this was an okay read. I didn’t really enjoy the setting and the plot wasn’t as interesting as I initially thought but it wasn’t awful. The characters are pleasant enough and I enjoyed putting some of the puzzle pieces together. It’s just a shame I didn’t end up with the full picture.