Release Day Review by Nicole: Shattered Minds, by Laura Lam

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Shattered Minds, by Laura Lam
Series: Pacifica, Book 2
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: June 20, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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.


F/M Pairing
Transgender (Male) Character
Science Fiction

Warning for:
Drug Use


I’m reading a lot of sci-fi at the moment. Not sure what that’s about, ’cause historically I’ve not much liked the genre, on account of there not being as much character-driven drama as I tend to like. The main exception to this has so far been Rachel Bach’s Paradox series and Amie Kaufman’s Starbound series. I am truly excited to be able to add another series to that number.

Unlike the previous two, the Pacifica series is non-sequential and can be read in any order without problems with understanding. Laura Lam does well to introduce the world of her characters without it seeming same-ish, and also without leaving behind readers who haven’t seen this series before.

Carina has an urge to kill, that she mostly fulfills in an altered state through an addictive substance called ‘Zeal’. I’ve seen Carina described as a ‘female Dexter’, but I feel as though this comparison is both misleading and untrue. The only reason that Carina appears to act somewhere between a sociopath and a psychopath is that she had her mind and emotions invaded and altered when she was a teen, and was struggling with the recent death of her mother.

Another reason I find Carina quite different to the character of Dexter is that, throughout this whole novel, we find her fighting her urge to kill even the bad guys that she’s sated herself on thus far. She doesn’t know how to feel, and is sorely out of practice, but in the midst of dealing with the substance abuse– that might have even made her killing urges worse– she realises that she wants to change.

Special shout out goes to Dax who was basically amazing all the way through. I think there are two mentions that he is trans– one by Carina, and one by Dax himself looking at his own past– and he’s a fully-fleshed character and love interest to Carina who I found myself quite invested in. Also Raf and Kivon, the gay side couple who I wished there’d been more time for, ’cause it seemed like they’d be quite cute.


Laura Lam was born in the late eighties and 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.

Her newest book is False Hearts, a near-future thriller released in January 2016 by Tor/Macmillan and in three other languages. Peter F. Hamilton calls False Hearts “a strong debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.”

She is still hiding from sunshine in Scotland and writing more stories.

Twitter: @LR_Lam

You can purchase Shattered Minds from:
Barnes & Noble

Or add it to Goodreads

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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