False Hearts

False Hearts - Laura Lam

I have to say right up front: I really dislike writing negative reviews. I'll try and be as specific as possible on what my issues were so you can judge whether or not you think those issues will bother you as well. I strongly believe just because one person loves/hates a book it doesn't mean everyone will. Still, this is one of those times where I feel like I read a very different book than the bulk of the reviewers out there. With glowing reviews at every turn, and ample comparisons to several things I love (Orphan Black meets Inception?!) I had to read it. And I wish I had given it a pass.


I knew early on this was one I should put down, but I kept reading because I'm one of those people who very rarely fails to finish a book. It's the prose that killed me on this book more than anything else. It felt very sophomoric. The sort of prose I read by the fistful in college critique classes, and that I myself wrote when I was younger. It's serviceable. It gets you from point A to point B. But it doesn't have a developed voice. It suffers consistently from telling rather than showing, sometimes even telling you the same thing over and over and over again, while skipping over opportunities for meatier character moments in favor of world building or plot progression. No matter how interesting I found the ideas Lam was playing with they were consistently overshadowed by the fact they all felt borrowed rather than owned - there was that constant comparing with countless other movies/books that have tread this ground before. More than anything it felt like a kitchen sink book, where the author cribbed cool ideas from a hundred other places and tossed them all in together without lingering too long on any one idea or explanation.


As a result of the wooden prose, and the hodgepodge nature of the plot/world-building, the characters suffered gravely. I wanted to like them. The idea of the characters was appealing - the cast was diverse and strong. But for me the idea of them was overshadowed by the execution. They felt like archetypes without any real depth rather than real people. I couldn't bring myself to care what happened to them, which can be deadly when reading a thriller. Will they survive this perilous situation and solve the mystery? *shrug*


Here's the thing: Over the years I've read a lot of sci-fi, so at this point I've gotten picky. If you're new to the genre I think you'll find a lot of new ideas and interesting things in this book. The plot does move forward at a decent pace, and there aren't any gaping holes. Like I said, it's serviceable. The book isn't fundamentally broken. However, if you're a veteran to the genre you're not going to find much here to surprise you, and if you read for character rather than plot this one will likely leave you cold. Clearly I'm in the minority out here, so your milage may vary.