This is the first time I have ever been alone.
Taema and Tila spent their whole childhoods together, joined at the heart, but when they are separated, more than their bodies go different ways. Taema works hard at her respectable job, delving into the technology she was denied as a child, and Tila works as a hostess, her life brushing against the criminal underbelly of San Francisco. In a world where murder is almost non-existent, when Tila turns up at Taema’s apartment covered in blood, with the police hot on her tail, Taema must learn more about her sister’s world in order to save her.
If you love cyberpunk but find it often lacks an emotional side, get yourself a copy of False Hearts. Whilst writing the book, Laura referred to it as her “bonkers book” but whilst there’s a lot going on, it isn’t particularly weird or illogical. Like all good titles, the false hearts are both literal, when the twins are separated they are given mechanical hearts, and also symbolic. In short, I loved it!
The narrative is shared between the twins, Taema getting the present and Tila describes their past in the cult of Mana’s Hearth. Both were captivating stories in their own right, but of course they intertwine with each other. The link between the two, with the exception of the twins, was quite clear to me early on but not the full extent. It definitely didn’t hamper the page turning quality of the story.
These days, so many men and women work all alone, connected to their wallscreens and their small, cramped apartments. They don’t seem to understand how to make real friends, or maybe they want some who are a bit less… complicated.
The cult rejects post-1969 technology. It’s a huge contrast to the world they find themselves in after they have been separated. It’s an interesting area to explore in fiction, are we better off with or without technology, has it gone too far. I would have loved to have read more about the cult and their reasoning for living a more simple life but I readily admit it wouldn’t have fit with the narrative and would have slowed the whole thing down.
As Taema starts to live Tila’s life, the cyberpunk side comes out more. It’s common practice to use drugs to enhance dreams, interacting with their implants, plugging in to live out fantasies and purge negative urges. This is the reason the murder rate is so low, after using the drug violent desires are dampened. They carry out the violence in their dreams, in a situation that feels real, then they wake up and get on with their lives. Some people get addicted to this, but Tila and Taema’s upbringing means the drug has little effect on them. But there’s a new drug in town, one that might not be so good for society.
There hasn’t been a murder by a civilian in San Francisco in years. Not since Pacifica was formed after the United States fractured forty years ago. Not since VeriChips and implants and cameras on every corner.
The UK hardback edition is super sexy, with a brushed steel effect metallic cover (designed by Neil Lang) and contrasting red sprayed edges. It’s definitely one I’ll be buying a finished copy of when it’s out. False Hearts is published by Tor and will be available in hardback and ebook editions on 16th June 2016. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
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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.