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Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

Shattered Minds will immerse you in to a futuristic world you could only imagine in your nightmares. Here, you will find immense government control, mind warping drugs, and robots and machines from a sci-fi movie. Here, the feeling of safety is only an illusion.

The Plot: Carina Kearney is a neuroscientist turned drug addict. Having worked for one of the biggest corporations in Pacifica, Sudice, Carina had seen, and performed, enough “illegal” human experiments to be drawn to the dreamscape inducing drug, Zeal. Though, her desire to murder may have had something to do with her addiction. In the Zealscape, Carina is able to conjure up imaginary victims to murder any way she chooses, without acting theses desires out in real life. During one of her murderous fantasies, Carina is sent an image, via the brain implant that every human in this world possesses, by someone she thought she had left behind when she quit working for Sudice. Mark tells Carina that he has encoded a massive amount of information, that could bring the end to Sudice and their illegal experiments, in to her brain implant and attached them to 5 separate memories to be unlocked in order. Carina must figure out which memories hold the keys to the files, and seek out the help of a clandestine group of hackers to share this information with before its too late. Will Carina choose to unlock this information, take down Sudice, and help Mark and the hackers? Or will she succumb to her murderous desires and Zeal addiction?

Shattered Minds was definitely different than what I am used to reading. I loved the science fiction aspect of the story. In the world of Pacifica, each person has a brain implant that allows them to access code, information, and memories. There are places called Flesh Parlors where you can change everything from your hair color to your gender, and codes can be written in to your brain implants to change personality traits. The brain implant aspect of the story was terrifying to me! People also had things called VeriChips implanted in their wrists, which made them, and all of their identifying information, traceable. Very terrifying indeed!

The world of Pacifica also involved the use of a drug called Zeal. For most people, Zeal was not addictive. Zeal helped a person create a dream world where they could act out things they could not do in real life, but, for those who were destined to become criminals, Zeal became addictive. Carina, since the age of 16, had begun to have desires and fantasies of murder. Losing her mother at a young age, and not receiving the treatment needed from her therapist, Carina was offered to Roz Elliot, a scientist with Sudice. Roz performed experiments on Carina, and ultimately, took her under her wing as a co-worker with Sudice. It was during her time here, and performing experiments on criminals, testing out ways to record brain activity and memories, that she started heavily using Zeal to overcome her desire to kill.

Carina, and her addiction, are my main dislikes in this book. I loved the world building and the creativity involved in the sci-fi details, but I honestly hated Carina’s character and her drug addiction. I found it so unbelievable and disgusting, first of all, that she felt like she couldn’t control her urge to kill people. Second of all, the fact that she fed her Zeal addiction so she could continuously enter the Zealscape to live out those murderous fantasies, was a major turn off for having to deal with her being the main point-of-view character. But, this is also a positive point for this book because I have never read a story quite like this. I have yet to encounter a character like Carina.

Roz’s character was quite intriguing. She made for an interesting, devious villain. With everything she accomplished with Sudice, there could be a separate novella just on her character. Roz Elliot was the evil, “mad scientist” of Sudice and Pacifica.

The rest of the characters felt like they fit fairly well in the story as supportive characters. I had just enough background on each to find them relatable. Dax, however, felt odd to me toward the end of the book. He had a great story line and I liked how he used his medical background to help the group, but as he grows closer to Carina (one MAJOR scene in particular, won’t give spoilers) I find myself disgusted that he can be attracted to someone who is an OBVIOUS drug addict and a known psychopath. The entire group knows of her murderous desires and tendencies, and he still allows himself to get close to her. Very off-putting and a little unbelievable for me.

I would rate this book 4 stars. I enjoyed it, and it was a major page turner. I was drawn in to the sci-fi world and wanted to find out if the group could take down this huge corporation that practically ran the world. I had the negative views on Carina, her fantasies of murder, and her addiction, but also found her character intriguing and innovative.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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