Title: What's Left of MeI should not exist. But I do.
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release date: September 18, 2012
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.
Every body begins with two souls. There is a dominant soul and a recessive one. By the time a child reaches a certain age, the recessive soul settles, fading away into non-existence while the dominant soul continues on. Addie and Eva are faced with a problem: They are 15-years-old and Eva, the recessive, hasn't settled. They are a Hybrid, living in a world where they are considered illegal and a threat to society. Eva lives in Addie's head, trapped with only Addie knowing of her lingering existence. Addie keeps up appearances, knowing they'll be products of scientific experiments and get locked up with the other Hybrids to have them "fixed" if anyone finds out her secret. One day, they meet someone who can change both of their lives-- they'll be able to share their body once more. Will they risk it all for Eva to be able to truly live again?
It's not everyday you come across a story like this. Kat Zhang created this world where it's typical for two souls to encompass one body... for a while. If the second soul does not settle, they're in some serious trouble. The plot screams originality, and that's what drew me to this book in leiu of all the current dystopian titles that all seem to follow the same formula in terms of character characteristics and locations. Imagine having to share your thoughts with someone contstantly while living in a world where it was completely forbidden. Then imagine being the one sharing a body but having no control over anything. It's chilling.
Zhang did an amazing job writing two completely different characters who share one body; they were one being on the outside, but inside was a literal back and forth struggle. The relationship between Addie and Eva was written amazingly well. It was obvious through their conversations and thoughts that one couldn't live without the other. To let go of Eva would be the toughest thing for Addie, and it's so heartbreaking to read the story through Eva's perspective, being unable to do anything besides voice her thoughts to no one else but Addie. Having the recessive soul be the narrator for the story was such a nice touch.
While I was completely taken by the originality of it all, there were a few letdowns. As far as dystopians go, I'm personally really big on world-building. The world that Addie and Eva were living in wasn't thoroughly explored, and I wasn't sure how far into the future the story took place. It could have been set in the present, for all I knew. I'm not overly upset with that fact, though, because the story was so character-driven and it was interesting to read about how Addie and Eva worked and struggled together. It is, after all, their story.
Keeping on the topic of characters, I was also hoping for more of the secondary characters. That's especially true for Hally and Devon. The way they were written into the story was so well-done, with Addie and Eva witnessing both of their back-and-forths first-hand. The characters in this book were quite literally doubly more interesting to read about.
I am, however, giving it the benefit of the doubt. The book is the first in a series, and as I expected, this installment was more of an introduction. I'm crossing my fingers that there will be more exposure for the other characters in the coming books. I'm really interested to see how relationships between individual souls will work. More details on this society and how they operate wouldn't hurt, as well. It's just all so fascinating and I felt like there could have been more explanations as to why things were happening.
Overall, I was happy with this book. It's definitely an original in its genre of dystopian YA novels, concentrating more on character-building and their inner self-struggles than the world-building.
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