Blog Tour: Once We Were by Kat Zhang (Review + Giveaway)

10 September, 2013 Blog Tours, Giveaways, Reviews 23 comments

Blog Tour: Once We Were by Kat Zhang (Review + Giveaway)Once We Were by Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #2
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on September 17th 2013
Pages: 342
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo America
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

"I'm lucky just to be alive."

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

Whenever I look at What’s Left of Me and Once We Were‘s covers, I can’t help but to think that the cover artist truly gets this series and how clever he/she is.  This always gets me excited because I love seeing the cover actually mean something to the book. As much as I love pretty dresses, it’s the depth and complexity that I really crave. It’s the kind of cover that you don’t quite understand just by looking at it, but as you start reading, pieces of the puzzle fall into place. If What’s Left of Me‘s cover shows Eve, the recessive soul, struggling to find her voice and strength, then Once We Were depicts two souls (the outlines of the face), two distinct personalities, searching for their own identities. But how independent can you be from someone who you share a body with?  Someone who has a different set of hopes, dreams and goals? And what if you were the recessive, finally in charge of some of the bigger decisions? How do you cope with the newfound responsibility? And what if you screw up?

“Maybe I really had been meant to  fade away.”

In Once We Were Addie and Eva are presented with something they’d never thought were possible: the ability to “go under”, where one soul would purposefully fall into an unconscious slumber to allow the other privacy. This works out well for relationship purposes, allowing Eva and Ryan some much-needed alone time (because, yikes!, talk about awkward when you’re trying to make-out with your boyfriend), but it also allowed something Addie and Eva never really encountered before, keeping secrets. And unfortunately, those very secrets continued to push them further and further away from each other.

And unlike in What’s Left of Me, I found myself growing increasingly more frustrated with Eva as she and Addie continued to go in different directions. Their chemistry, bond and fierce determination for one another was what made it easy to connect with their story. But this time around Eva, who now gets a taste of freedom, becomes very wrapped up in the plans for a revolution that she forgets to pay attention to Addie. It’s interesting how the two have switched roles in that regard and how it’s Addie who begins to take more of a backseat. It’s also interesting how different they really are and how little I realized this in book one.

“But the thing is, sharing hands doesn’t mean sharing goals. Sharing eyes doesn’t mean sharing visions. And sharing a heart doesn’t mean sharing the things we love.”

I’ll admit, it was difficult for me to connect with Eva due to the decisions she made and risks she took. However, Once We Were was Eva’s time to find out who she is, and in that search, mistakes were to be expected. My biggest issue was the fact that she continued putting not only herself and her sister in danger, but the people who rescued her and her friends as well.

As soon as an opportunity arrived for Eva to be apart of something big where she could help change the system, she stopped thinking things through, started keep secrets, lying to those who cared about her, agreeing to compromising situations that put her sister at risk. At times, I started having conversations in my mind with Eva, going all Uncle Ben on her: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Yada, yada, yada. But I had to keep reminding myself that this is a character who isn’t used to making such HUGE decisions. The redeeming factor is that she does recognize how terribly she’s been to her sister and to others. She does try to fix her mistake at great sacrifice to her own person. So, Eva is far from being a terrible character, but Once We Were does show her flaws more, and sometimes at a more frustrating degree.

As expected, Kat Zhang’s writing is beautiful, fluid and mesmerizing. It was one of the things that caused me to fall in love with What’s Left of Me and I was so happy to see that continue here. This time around we were also treated to some sections of prose that’s written in verse to show the passage of time when Eva “goes under.” During that time the verses had a whimsical quality, that made me think of


in a pool

hot summer day

smiling faces

relaxing in the sun


Still, Once We Were didn’t capture my attention the same way What’s Left of Me did, and I did struggle a little to get hooked. Thankfully, the last third does pick up, but I was disappointed to have waited so long for it to do so.

What I was really curious for was more world building. I wanted to know how the rest of the world views hybrids, and since Eva and Addie’s knowledge is limited, so is the reader’s. This time around there we have a new character named Henri from central Africa who’s able to give us a small glimpse at how the other nations few the Americas. However, their conversations are few and far between and I would have loved to know more about the other countries’ views on hybrids. I’m hoping that’ll be discussed more in book 3.

Final thought: Once We Were mainly focuses on Eva and Addie as individuals instead of just one person. They spend more time apart, losing the connection I had with them from What’s Left of Me. But I do think this experience has really brought them closer and has set the stage for the final book in the series. With so many questions remaining unanswered, I’m eager to find out what happens next!


Disclaimer: I picked up an ARC at Book Expo America 2013. 


Follow the rest of the Once We Were blog tour!


Thanks to HarperCollins, I have an ARC of Once We Were to give away to one lucky winner!

Contest Rules:

  • To enter, please fill out the Raffelcopter form below.
  • We ask that all entrants be at least 13 years or older to enter.
  • The giveaway is open internationally.
  • When the winners are chosen, it will be announced here and the winners will be emailed. Please check your email because we are only giving the winner 48 hours to respond! Otherwise another winner will have to be selected.
  • Please enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form and not the comments.
  • Also, please understand that we reserve the right to disqualify any entries we find gaming the system. Cheaters never prosper.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

23 Responses to “Blog Tour: Once We Were by Kat Zhang (Review + Giveaway)”

  1. PatriDuarte

    Lovely review, I haven’t read the first one but it would be good to get the first and read its sequel straight away. Thanks for the chance!

  2. NatalieAguirre

    I loved What’s Left of Me so I can’t wait to read this. Been checking daily at my library to see if they bought it yet. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. SarahCorbin

    I have read the first 1 and enjoyed it!! I cant wait to find out what happens in the next book!!!

  4. Tammy

    Read the first book and liked it but I’m hoping the second book has more action and the personalities of both hybrids come into play.

  5. Mona6014

    I’ve read the first book and really liked it. I’m really worried about Eva though…I hate that she would forget and be inconsiderate to Addie, as Addie is doing Eva a favor letting her exist. I feel like Eva should be more grateful. Still, I’m excited to read this and continue the series!

  6. Jenna

    I’m interested to see where she takes the story. It’s such an interesting twist thrown on a new idea. I hope that she can continue to pull it off.

  7. Llana

    Is it wrong to say I hope I win ? Because I really want this book but I feel like everyone else does too. Maybe I just stick to talking about how pretty the cover is,and how much I loved the first one.

  8. KaitlinS

    I haven’t read the first book yet, but a copy of it came in the mail this week! It’s a shame you didn’t like the second one as much as the first one, but it sounds like you highly enjoyed reading What’s Left of Me and I’m glad to hear that! 

    Great review. Thank you for the giveaway. 🙂

  9. Abria

    I love the covers for this series too. I wasn’t sure about picking up book 2 of this series because I had mixed feelings about book 1, but maybe I’ll bump it up on my TBR.

  10. anncleire

    Thank you for this opportunity… I love the covers, I found out this serie pretty recently, when I organise a Read along for the first one. I so want the second…

  11. jeannius88

    Thanks for this great giveaway! I’ve heard a lot of this book and keen to read it. Thanks for sharing.

  12. kuro_rin01

    The covers for these books are amazing! I didn’t even notice how the image in WLoM are dual faces until someone pointed it out for Once!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge