When I opened the draft of this post expecting some past wisdom, I found “Cults! Cyber-punks! Drugs”. To be honest with you, I probably don’t need to say much more, except that
I think Laura Lam is my new favourite author
There I said it.
I had a sneaking suspicion once I started the sequel to False Hearts that this was the case, and now after meeting her at YALC and discussing her essay from Nasty Women I’m sure of it.
So, let’s talk about False Hearts. As I said before it does involve cults, cyber punks and drugs, but I can be a little more specific.
Twins Tila and Taema are living in future utopian San Francisco, after leaving the anti-technology cult of Mana’s Hearth as teenagers. One night, Tila is arrested for murder after being found covered in blood, with the police saying the drug Verve is involved. Taema is offered a deal to prevent Tila’s unfair conviction and a life in stasis by going undercover as Tila to infiltrate and bring down the crime syndicate supplying Verve.
Once connected physically, Taema must now reconnect with Tila by taking on her identity, returning to a past where she once saw her sister’s face in the mirror.
Yeah, right? It’s a lot. And boy is it an exciting novel. The book is told in alternating first person POVs of the twin sisters, with Tila recounting how she got into the situation she is in and revealing piecemeal how and why they escaped Mana’s Hearth. As soon as I finished it, I picked up the sequel Shattered Minds, set in the same universe with some cross over characters.
One of the things that stuck out to me was how much work Laura Lam had clearly done researching the lives of sex workers to represent Tila’s profession. Never did I feel it was used as a shocking device or a way to denigrate Tila, as is so often the case in literature. Bravo Laura! If you want to find out more about sex worker’s rights and why decriminalisation is what sex workers want, please visit SWARM’s website.
While not technically YA due to the age of the characters and some of the sexier scenes, I think that many of the SFF arm of the YA community will really enjoy this book.
False Hearts is smart, pacy, dark and rife with heart-in-your-mouth moments. Lam straddles the boundaries of thriller and SFF with aplomb, creating a glorious novel that questions utopian possibilities and the power of corporations. This is easily one of my favourite books of the year and I implore you to investigate it if you’re even remotely curious.
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