How’s this for a synopsis: a pair of conjoined twins escape the cult they’ve been raised in, are surgically separated and given new hearts, and learn to live in near-future San Francisco, until one of them is arrested for murder and the other has to go undercover as her sister to infiltrate the mob that’s trying to mine people’s dreams and prove her innocence. Whew! It’s a fun ride.
Taema and Tila lived on an island in a cult called the Hearth, run by a tyrant named Mana-Ma. The Hearth gets deliveries from the mainland on a regular basis, so the residents know that there is an Out There out there, but they’re told it’s all Impure and only they are the chosen ones. But when Taema and Tila have a heart attack at age 15 (their bodies are stressed because they are joined at the chest and share a heart), they decide they’d rather live as Impure than die blessed by Mana-Ma’s god, so they escape. Years later, the sisters are living separate, happy lives, when suddenly Tila bursts into Taema’s apartment, covered in blood, insisting that she didn’t do it. Taema agrees to work with Detective Nazanin, who is already embedded in the local mafia, to go undercover as Tila to figure out what her twin was up to.
There’s intrigue, conspiracy, romance, twists and turns, designer drugs that let lucid dreamers mine the users’ minds for secrets, surprises, and training montages. Taema is a little too whiny (I shouldn’t be doing this! I have to do this! My sister lied to me! I have to protect her! I shouldn’t be doing this!), but eventually comes to understand her sister’s plan.
It’s a good “regular person becomes badass to save the day” story, even if Taema didn’t start out very regular.