I am super excited to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for this amazing book, Shattered Minds by Laura Lam!
Shattered Minds was released on the 15th June 2017 published by Macmillan and is set to be a brilliant Sci-Fi / Dystopian read.
Shattered Minds stars a female ‘Dexter’ with a drug problem and a conscience, in a terrifying near-future where technology rules our lives and haunts our dreams. It’s set in the same world as False Hearts. The book tackles hacking, celebrity, unlikable female protagonists and villains and the blurred lines between them…
So today I will be spotlighting the book, sharing and extract and I also have a fab giveaway!
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.
You can buy a copy of Shattered Minds here or from your local bookshop!
The Zealscape, Green Star Lounge, Los Angeles,
Carina stumbles home, clutching her coat around her thin shoulders.
The police who came to the Green Star Lounge wanted to interview her about what had happened, but she put on the ‘I’m-an-unhinged-Zealot’ act, flying spittle and all, and they left her alone pretty quickly.
They decided she was lucky to be the only survivor. They let her go. One drug-addled woman is clearly not the cause of the malfunction of the Zeal lounge. It’d been a slow day, but thirteen Zealots are now dead. Who will mourn them?
The images play in her mind as Carina totters on unsteady feet. The bee. The rose. The thorn. The blood. The eyes. And then the dead girl with the same mismatched eyes. Carina knows her Zealscape intimately. Every corner. Every seam. Every brick. She’s built it so carefully over the last six months.
This is something else.
She reaches her apartment, tucked into the Chesterfield Square neighbourhood of South Los Angeles. Once, these few blocks had one of the highest crime rates in the world. Now, most of the inhabitants are Zealots plugged into their dreams. It is a ghost town.
The entrance to the apartment building senses her VeriChip and she sends the passcode from her eye implants to the door. The metal grate scrapes open. She makes her slow progress up the stairs, pausing to catch her breath every few steps, her knees shaking. This apartment was cheaper than one with an elevator. She underestimated how quickly her health would start to deteriorate. Falling against her front door, she sends the next passcode to the lock.
Once Carina was tidy, but now her clothes are scattered around the apartment, and she hasn’t even bothered sending the bots around to clean. She tends to throw away clothes when they’re too dirty to wear, buying cheap new ones from the replicator. The sweat-stained sheets on her bed need changing. This is the place where she has a few hours of fitful sleep or eats some tasteless, vaguely nutritious food before going back to the Green Star Lounge.
This is the place where she looks at the scan of her brain, trying to find out why it’s broken and she now wants to kill everyone she comes across. Setting the program to load, she goes to the bathroom.
Her tooth is still there, the eroded root crusted with dried blood. She washes her hands, and the tooth disappears down into the pipes. She tongues the empty space in her mouth where it used to be, wincing at her sore gums. It could be fixed, but it’d mean more time out of the Zealscape or away from the project.
Then it hits her: the lounge will almost certainly be closed tomorrow and she doesn’t know how she will get her dose of Zeal.
She should care more about the people who died. She should worry that going back to the same lounge, or another one, means it could happen again, and she might not be so lucky if it does. But she can’t care about anything except finding that next hit.
Carina collapses on the sagging couch. The wallscreens are always turned off. The kitchen cupboards are empty, so if she wants to eat, she’ll have to order NutriPaste from the replicator, as that’s all she can afford. The thought of its chalky texture turns her stomach. So she sits. Bee. Rose. Thorn. Blood. Eyes, one green, one blue.
What do they mean? Is it gibberish, some strange side effect from a virus let loose in the Zeal program subsystem? The bit of her that was once a neuroprogrammer is curious, but that part is mostly swallowed up by Zeal apathy. She can only care about her main project.
Her brain scan has loaded. It floats in the middle of the living room, taking up most of the space. Her implants are old and need refreshing, but they work well enough for the Zeal, and that’s all she cares about.
Carina can find nothing physical to explain the gradual unravelling of her mind. Her prefrontal cortex seems normal. Her ventromedial cortex is not shrunken, so decision-making should also still be fine. Her dopamine receptors are shot, but that’s more thanks to the Zeal than any existing precondition. The way she processes emotion and empathy is different, but she’s been like that since she was a teen and it doesn’t really show on her brain. Once, her emotions had been entirely walled away. For years, nothing had touched her.
It was only once she started feeling again that she also started wanting to kill.
She’s been trying to get back to how she was five years ago. She might have created a somewhat workable code, but she doesn’t have the proper equipment, nor a lab. Once, she toyed with going back to Sudice for access to the Los Angeles lab. It would have meant Roz would find out her address, but Carina thought enough time had passed that it might be all right. Her recent Zealscape vision, if it’s true, kills that plan.
She sends her brain scan away, too tired to try and puzzle over the code any more. She hasn’t made any real progress in months, anyway. Her concentration is shot, and she’s lost her touch. Somewhere deep inside her, she wonders if she’s too far gone ever to find some semblance of normalcy. Or if she even cares.
Carina turns on her implants and brings up photos of the old team at Sudice. There’s Dr Mark Teague, smiling and waving at the camera, his tanned skin glowing, silver hair glinting in the overhead lighting of the lab. There’s Dr Aliyah Zahedi, with her enigmatic smile, dark skin, orange hair a little mussed from running frustrated fingers through it all day while running her trials. She’d been the quietest of the bunch, but with a wicked sense of humour. And there’s Dr Kim Mata – part-Japanese, hair just starting to grey and cut into a short bob. Even though Mark is twice her age, Kim looks older, as she’s one of the few people in Pacifica not obsessed with flesh parlours. Carina hasn’t thought of Kim, her constant nicknames, her wheedling jokes, in months.
Dr Roz Elliot is not in the picture.
Carina hasn’t thought about any of them much in the last few months. When she left Sudice eight months ago, they were often in her thoughts. Then the Zeal took over. She’d befriended them, as much as Carina could be friends with anyone. She’d grown used to them, admired their minds enough that they became real to her. Even when she started wanting to kill everyone around her, Mark, Kim and Aliyah were safe. Fundamentally, they were good people, and Carina only kills criminals – at least, so far, though she fears her control weakening.
Carina opens the staff image of Dr Elliot and narrows her eyes as she takes in the perfect dark-blonde bob, the bland smile for the camera. There’s a criminal. There’s someone Carina wouldn’t mind hurting.
Carina has no recording of that vision in the Zealscape. If she had, she could send it to the authorities, let them deal with whatever Roz has done. No proof, no crime.
Opening up the other staff photos, her gaze lingers on Kim. She’s a head and a half shorter than anyone else on the team. Flyaway hair always escaping her bun and framing her face. Kim could probably tell her something about what happened today, but Carina doesn’t want Kim to know just how far she has fallen. She looks at Kim’s wide smile as she displays one of her precious collectable figurines, proudly balancing it on one palm, its tuft of pink hair almost tickling her nose. Kim looks goofy and playful, and not at all like one of the best neuroprogrammers in Pacifica; not like a woman traumatized by the murder of her wife. Carina turns off her implants.
She sits and stares at the blank wall for hours, blinking slowly. At some point past midnight, basic human survival instinct kicks in. Mechanically she goes to the bathroom, then the kitchen to order some NutriPaste from the replicator, grimacing at the taste and drinking water to wash it down.
Zeal withdrawal is already kicking in. Her limbs twitch as though they’ve been electrocuted. Her mouth is dry no matter how much water she drinks. The synapses in her brain aren’t firing quite right – thoughts spiral into nothingness. There are no urges to harm anyone in this plane of reality. They are safe, as long as she has her dose.
The images are still loud and clear. The dead girl’s face, staring ahead, accusatory.
‘I didn’t kill you,’ Carina says out loud to the blank wall. ‘Get out of my head.’
The girl doesn’t answer. She can’t. Carina bashes her fist against the wall. It hurts, but even the pain is distant.
She isn’t sure whether she wishes she’d died tonight or not. Admitting that uncertainty only cements the fear lingering in her fractured thoughts. Sometimes Carina wants to fix whatever’s wrong with her and find a way back to life. Other times she wants nothing more than, if not to die, then to cease to exist. A subtle difference. That feeling is growing stronger as more of her is consumed by Zeal.
Carina doesn’t sleep. She waits for morning, where she’ll find another Zeal lounge and plug back in.
SHATTERED MINDS by Laura Lam is OUT NOW, published by Pan Macmillan, £12.99 Hardback.
About Laura Lam
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.
You can find out more about Laura on her website – www.lauralam.co.uk
Or why not follow Laura on twitter –
With thanks to the lovely people at Macmillan I have a signed copy of False Hearts and a copy of Shattered Minds by Laura Lam to giveaway to one lucky winner!
You can enter on twitter by clicking here
Ends 27th June 2017
You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge thank you to Laura and Alice at Macmillan for having me as part of this fab blog tour and for asking me to host the giveaway.
Have you read any of the Shattered Minds? What did you think? Are you intrigued to go and grab a copy? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button above or tweet my on twitter using @chelleytoy!