I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on September 18th 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Amazon・ Good Books・Book Depository
I should not exist. But I do.
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
Dystopian novels have been disappointing me left and right these days. I don’t know why. I’m not that hard to please. Yeah, I see your eyes rolling at that. *grin* But seriously, give me likable characters, solid world building and a good conspiracy theory and I’m good to go. Well, I guess there are only so many ways to tell the story of a deranged society killing off its children for the greater good. So, I went into What’s Left of Me with, how do I say this? Er… low expectations. And wow. I was not expecting to love this book, but wow. I absolutely LOVED it! I mean, geez. Where do I even begin? Should I start at the premise? How about the realistic characters? Or maybe I should just make this entire review into a fangirl’s shrine of amazing prose? This book is all of those things and more.
Let me start with that gorgeous cover for a minute. I have a confession, which is more or less public information: I’m a cover whore. There. I totes said it. Yes, yes. I know the drill, “BOO, YOU WHORE!” It’s just that I get a peek of a beautiful cover and my eyes gloss over with desire. I know I should heed the advice and not judge the book based on the cover, but I can’t help it. I’m a judgy little judger. Usually, this just sets me up for a supreme let down when I actually get a chance to read the book. But occasionally, I find those diamond in the roughs like What’s Left of Me, where not only does the cover scream, “Pick me up, dammit, and read me!” but the story fully captivates me. That is the bread and the apple butter, my friends.
And not only does the cover look stunning, but it truly captures Eva and Addie. Eva, the recessive soul that should have disappeared according to her society, was born and marked for death. And Addie, the dominate soul, destined to forget her best friend and other half. But they share a secret. They are hybrids, a title coined to those with recessive souls that refused to just fade away. To the government they are deemed a threat to society and therefore must be locked up, contained, fixed or be killed.
The best part of What’s Left of Me was the relationship between Addie and Eva. I have to sit and applaud Zhang’s skill at crafting two very different characters, who share the same body, yet they struggle to portray just one person to everyone else. Against her better judgement, Addie agrees to practice letting Eva take control of their body. She knows what this could mean for them if they are caught and discovered. However, she also knows how much it means to Eva to not just be the soul everyone else thinks is gone. Eva wants to be real. So they take the risk and their worst fears are, unfortunately, realized.
We’d been born with our souls’ fingers interlocked. What if we’d never let go?
The bond and love these two sister had for one another was phenomenal and, at times, tear jerking. Though, I should say I did not cry during this novel. But I will say it was deeply emotional when the sisters internally struggled to fulfill both souls’ needs without depriving the other. Of course, this was nearly impossible. Eva is the recessive soul and as such is used to literally taking the backseat to whatever Addie needs or wants. At times that frustrated me to no end because I could just feel Eva ready to burst free and be her own person, but Addie would take those moments away from her.
I was caged in our body and caged in his arms and, somehow, the former was the real prison.
And while I remained angry at Addie for her selfishness, Eva not once blamed her sister for the way she felt. That is not to say they always got along. There were quite a few times they stopped talking to each other in the novel, but I just loved how they made up. Side note: Can you imagine having a fight with your sibling in your head? I mean, if my sister and I shared one body… let’s just say it’d be WW3 up in there. There’d be major ass kicking. Bet on it. Probably something along the lines of this:
Not only did Zhang have to keep track of Addie and Eva’s characters, but she created two characters in one body in several different instances. Now, I know from reading that sentence, that may A) not make a lot of sense or B) not sound very difficult. But it fascinated me how Zhang pulled it off. There were times where Addie and Eva would be talking with a character only for him/her to switch mid-conversation to their other soul. So you have two different mannerisms, facial expressions, tone, ect. for this one person and you have Addie and Eva able to not only tell the difference between the two, but to also convince the reader of the switch. And I’ll even take it a step further to say that after a certain point I could tell which soul was who before Addie and Eva confirmed it for me. I think this is a testament to just how well these characters were crafted.
And that is where the pacing and plot come into play. At first I thought the book was moving too fast in the beginning because I was getting introduced to a bunch of new characters and STUFF was happening very quickly, but I think it works well that way. Looking back, What’s Left of Me doesn’t really have much downtime because something is always happening, but at the same time it doesn’t read like a thriller either because it’s not exactly action packed. Oxymoron? Why, yes. But it was riveting and I felt I NEEDED to figure out the mystery to why the hybrids were treated so badly. Interestingly, I would usually take this time to point out and complain about world building flaws. There is very little mention of the outside world and how they deal with hybrids. BUT, and you’re going to have to trust me on this, it works in this instance. The reader is intentionally kept in the dark until a few plot twists are revealed. Even after completing the novel, I feel like there is so much more to come.
So, yeah, I rambled there a bit, but this novel was so fascinating and awesome. After all that I just have one last thing to say: More now, please.
ARC was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. Thank you!