Published by Harper Collins on 9/18/2012
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal Fiction, Romance, Science-fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Amazing concept, story-telling and a killer plot, Kat Zhang has created quite the page turner. What’s left of me after I’ve turned the last page? I’m still not sure.
In Zhang’s dystopian world of the Americas, people are hybrids; two souls – I hesitate to call them twin souls, since each soul is very different – exist in every physical body. It’s still the ultimate twin, though. The souls know each other intimately, they can speak to each other with just a thought, and both have the same definitive motor skills over the body they share.
But what if the government decided that hybrids were not a viable way to live? What if the government forced one soul to disappear – forever? That’s how the Americas deal with hybrids in What’s Left of Me. Soul-mates are ripped apart through forced vaccinations. And those who don’t respond to the vaccinations? Well…I’ll just let you read it for yourself.
Zhang has concocted a world is incredibly unique to both the dystopian and young adult genres. I, personally, haven’t read another book quite like this one that was so gripping and enthralling. She brings to light government corruption in a very controlled society who, for the most part, generally accepts that things are the way they are and it’s for their own good (rebels aside, of course. Can’t have a dystopian without rebels!). Her society questions no one. That’s what makes it so scary. And she wrote it splendidly.
Her writing is beautiful. Her main character is a recessive soul, one who should have faded away with vaccinations, one who slipped under the radar with the help of her sister soul, Addie. When Zhang writes the story of these sister souls in one body, and the world around them, you pay attention. You listen to them. You listen to the recessive soul and what it’s like to be forgotten. Because she has been forgotten by everyone: her parents, doctors, teachers, brothers…everyone but Addie. To write from that perspective takes an enormous amount of talent and I enjoyed reading it just for that fact alone.
Her characters are alive and real. Zhang takes time to differentiate between each soul and how complex and different they are. Scenes play out where one soul wants one thing (or sometimes, someone) and another soul doesn’t. How do you reconcile that between souls? She manages to somehow create the harmony and conflict between them and it’s beautiful.
This isn’t to say that What’s Left of Me isn’t without its faults. While I enjoyed reading it immensely, I had a hard time reconciling myself with the fact that Addie’s parents willingly gave her over to a man they had never before laid eyes on, based on his words and a few papers alone saying that he wanted to take Addie to a remote hospital for hybrid treatment. It felt like a very convenient plot-device so Zhang could take the story from point A to point B. I can’t see any parent willingly giving their children up, especially when it seems they love them so much.
I did like that the romance took a backseat in this story for 90% of it. Sometimes I get romancified out and I just need a break from all the bleeding hearts and cream puffs. Zhang nailed it perfectly with this one.
But minor quibble aside, I really did enjoy reading What’s Left of Me! It’s a very fresh twist on the dystopian genre and I think readers who enjoyed Stephenie Meyer’s The Host will enjoy What’s Left of Me, for the sheer fascination of souls in bodies and the interplay between them.
Well done, Ms. Zhang, I can’t wait for the next book.
He closed the door behind him and left us in the aftermath of his words.
Disclaimers: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads. *If you decide to purchase this book through any of these links, I do receive a small monetary kick-back that helps fund this blog.