Book Review: Shattered Minds – Futuristic cyber-punk thriller

Shattered Minds  by Laura Lam

Why I read: Near-future technological thriller staring a female “Dexter”.  I was intrigued by the “brain-mapping” ideas and cyberpunk themes.

Book blurb: “She can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons.

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever. “

The book is a stand-alone novel set in the same world as False Hearts.  (I haven’t read False Hearts so I don’t know if there are any spoilers for that book within this one).

My review

In a dark and malevolent futuristic world, a drug-addicted ex-neuroscientist Carina satisfies her urges to kill within drug-fueled dreams.   Within her mind sections of data are planted which she can only unlock by recalling her early memories.  So she bands together with a group of hackers in order to take down an evil corporation.   The writing is fluid and vivid, often darkly violent and brilliantly portrays a frightening high technology near-future. I loved the blend of crime, psychology, sci-fi and futurism.  The world-building and technology are awesome.

Carina was an interesting character, she had a hard edge with violent compulsions she struggles to control but also a softer more likeable human side.  She fights against her addictions and her past so she can expose Sudice Inc.  These many facets to her personality made her a believable “bad girl”. Its certainly a book for people who enjoy complex female leads.  Dax (her love interest) is a trans-male hacker and another fascinating well -written character.   I enjoyed how their story played out.

The narrative jumped around between different people, past and present to unfold the complicated story.   I had to pay attention to the heading at the start of each chapter to ensure I knew whose perspective it was written from and where on the timeline it was occurring.  So  it took a bit longer for me to read.  But don’t let you put this off.  Its well worth the attention.

Recommended if you enjoy: strong female characters, technological sci-fi, futuristic crime fiction, cyber-punk elements.

****

I received an ARC from Netgallery in return for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781447286905

Hardcover, 384 pages   (NB I read a pre-release PDF version)
Expected publication: June 15th 2017 by Pan Macmillan

You can read an extract of the book on the publishers website  

My little Jackshund dog decided I needed a reading break in the middle of this book:

 

 

 

 

Vurt – a hallucinogenic read

Vurt  by Jeff Noon

Why I read:  A cyberpunk novel with sci-fi and dystopian elements.  It comes up on weirdest book ever lists and I just love weird fiction.

Select Quote. “Game Cat: Awake, you know that dreams exist.  Inside a dream you think that dream is reality.  Inside a dream you have no knowledge of the waking world.  It is the same with Vurt.”

Book blurb: “Vurt is a feather–a drug, a dimension, a dream state, a virtual reality. It comes in many colors: legal Blues for lullaby dreams. Blacks, filled with tenderness and pain, just beyond the law. Pink Pornovurts, doorways to bliss. Silver feathers for techies who know how to remix colors and open new dimensions. And Yellows–the feathers from which there is no escape.

The beautiful young Desdemona is trapped in Curious Yellow, the ultimate Metavurt, a feather few have ever seen and fewer still have dared ingest. Her brother Scribble will risk everything to rescue his beloved sister. Helped by his gang, the Stash Riders, hindered by shadowcops, robos, rock and roll dogmen, and his own dread, Scribble searches along the edges of civilization for a feather that, if it exists at all, must be bought with the one thing no sane person would willingly give.”

My review

This book lived up to its reputation for weirdness.  The characters spend a lot of their time doing Vurt feathers,  to enter a virtual reality experience in a sort of  drug induced shared hallucination.

It was like reading a severely messed up dream of futuristic rainy dystopian Manchester. Or more appropriately a nightmare filled with a dashing of incest, bestiality, and copious amounts of drug use.  I found the characters hard to relate to and the plot was mainly a search for a girl trapped within the Other and the crazy screwed-up adventures that Scribble and his gang have on that journey.  But there were many novel elements that intrigued me.  The Game Cat that seemed to be anything and everything giving drug reviews,  human-animal-robo hybrids, the Thing-from-Outer-Space, Shadow-cops rumoured to read your thoughts.  It goes on and on.  The book its filled with great language and imagery and made up words that make your brain work to try and interpret what you are reading so its not an easy/light read.  It’s a wild ride.

I can’t say I loved it.  But it certainly wasn’t a bad book.  So gets mid-range rating from me.

***

 

Hardcover, 342 pages
Published January 17th 1995 by Crown (first published 1993)