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Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: The Hybrid Chronicles (Book 1)

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062114875 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062114877 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Kayla

Synopsis:

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.

Quick & Dirty: Two sisters fight to stay together in a world that wants to tear them apart. For fans of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host.

Opening Sentence: Addie and I were born into the same body, out souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Every human is born with two souls. Each have control of their body when they’re young, but as they grow older, they both must settle — one will take control of their body and the other will fade away. Those who don’t settle get shipped away to a institution — a place where “hybrids” are test subjects so they can eventually become “cured” of their hybridness. Addie and Eva have lived under the radar for sixteen years. People — even their parents — think they’ve finally settled after the brutal complications when they were ten. Now they both have a chance at leading a normal life. Until a girl named Hally from their school figures out their secret. But unlike normal people, Hally doesn’t turn them in. In fact, Hally and her brother turn out to be exactly like Addie and Eva — hybrid. Despite Addie’s protests, Eva wants to hear Hally (or Lissa) out. That turns out to be the biggest mistake (or success depending on how you look at it) in their life. After a month of clandestine sessions of trying to help Eva control her body again, their worst fears become true. When Hally and Lissa are captured by the police on accident, everyone who was close to them (including her brothers Ryan/Devon) is called in for questioning. But when questioning becomes probing and probing becomes investigating, Addie and Eva are taken away to what they tried so hard to avoid. When the outside world tries to tear two sisters apart, who will win? Relationships will be tested, enemies will be made and morals will be questioned. What would you do if you were only one half of a whole?

As you can probably guess, I was a total fan of this book. It’s one of those rare YA novels that doesn’t center around a love interest and still holds the audience’s attention. There is a minor love interest but it’s mainly there to set up for the next book. But can I just say, isn’t this a creative idea? A world were everyone has two souls, but one has to disappear for the other to thrive. For those fans of The Host, this one’s for you. There may be a lack of aliens and a love triangle, but the basic idea is there. Two people are as close as sisters (or in this case, actually are sisters) but the world outside doesn’t approve. Sister relationships, corrupt government (really, what kind of dystopia doesn’t have a corrupt government?), and friendships are important themes in this alternate United States.

I think Zhang did a great job of world building without bogging down the action. With this type of book — where the world and culture are entirely different — there can be a background information overload, but Zhang added bits and pieces throughout the novel, while still keeping the plot moving.

Every character in this book is complex and has their own troubles brewing beneath the surface. Addie is the dominant soul in the body, and while she may seem like the strongest for holding control, I think Eva is really the one who shines brightest. She has to sit in the background while Addie controls their body and deal with any of the emotions Addie deals with as her own. Eva perseveres when Addie is ready to give up. But Addie has to act like a normal person while talking to another soul at the same time. Both girls are strong willed, making them great main characters.

Although there is a cliffhanger, I believe that’s its bearable enough to read before the next one comes out. There are several strings that still need to be cut, but the main arc is concluded and the characters are relatively safe. There could have been more suspense for the next book at least, but hey, at least there is a next book!

Notable Scene:

“This is the way it’s supposed to be,” Addie said. “It is just me. I’m Addie. I settled. It’s okay now. I–”

But Lissa’s eyes were suddenly blazing, her cheeks flushed. “How can you say that, Addie? How can you say that when Eva’s still in there?”

Addie started to cry. Tears ran into our mouth, salty, warn, metallic.

<Shh> I whispered. Everything spun in confusion. <Shh, Addie. Please don’t cry. Please.>

“What about Eva?” Lissa’s voice was shrill. “What about Eva?”

Misery. Misery and pain and guilt. None of them were mine. Addie’s emotions sliced into me. No matter what happened, what we said or did to each other, Addie and I were still two parts of a whole. Closer than close. Tighter than tight. Her misery was mine. <Don’t listen to her, Addie> I said. <She doesn’t know what she’s saying.>

But Addie kept crying and Lissa kept shouting and the room packed to the brim with tears and anger and guilt and fear.

Then the world gave out.

The Hybrid Chronicles:

1. What’s Left of Me

FTC Advisory: HarperCollins provided me with a copy of What’s Left of Me. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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