Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Shattered Minds

Shattered Minds is set in the same universe as False Hearts and can be read as a standalone. Whilst this review is spoiler free please bear in mind that Shattered Minds does contain some spoilers for False Hearts, so if you want to read both, they are best read in order.

The images segment and flash before her. A bee. A rose. A thorn. A drop of blood. Mismatched eyes. Over and over, until they blur together.

Sudice have the market monopolised when it comes to implants, augmenting lives with extra information and connecting everyone. Carina used to work for them as a neuroprogrammer but now she is a zealot, a zeal addict, who spends as much time in the zealscape as she can. There she can kill in a virtual environment, with no real life guilt. It quells the impulses she fears. She is destroying herself, and society is happy to let it happen.

Zeal was introduced in False Hearts and it is probably easier to fall into this world and accept the story with that background. However Laura neatly gives enough information to fill in a new reader without it seeming too recappy. Zeal is used to prevent violent crime in this society, a drug that is used in combination with something like a VR chair. Supposedly the only people to get addicted are those predisposed to violence, so the authorities are happy to leave them to die.

Of course, Carina wasn't always like this, didn't always feel the urge to kill. That started some time when she was working for Sudice. Her memories subdued, she starts to understand the truth when one of her ex-colleagues sends her a message direct to her head. He's dead, killed by Sudice, and he wants her to bring them down. In order to unlock the information that will implicate them, she must access five memories.

As the memories are unlocked, more is revealed about Carina and how she came to be like she is. They also show how far Sudice have gone, crossing the line in pursuit of progress or just plain greed.

Roz will siphon everything from that shattered mind until nothing is left.

People tend to trust large technology companies with huge amounts of information. We don't read terms and conditions and updates are accepted without a second thought. But what if these companies had direct access to your brain? Would you be happy for someone to reprogram you if it "fixed" your problems and would you still be you?Shattered Minds leaves plenty of food for thought as well as being a technologically advanced mystery, a real page-turner towards the end.

There are a few characters you will recognise from False Hearts but mostly it follows Carina and The Trust, an underground group of hackers determined to undermine Sudice's grasp on the human race. Bonus points for the floating mansions in the Hollywood Hills.

Shattered Minds is published by Tor and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 15th June 2017. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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