Friday, May 17, 2013

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Release date: September 18, 2012
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 343
Format: ARC
Source: ARCycling (from Montana @ The Book Belles!)
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The 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.
What's Left of Me is another one of those books that I, for whatever reason, had decided probably wasn't very good, though I wanted to read it and knew I would eventually. Honestly, I really need to get over myself because I'm always wrong! I loved this book. The concept is such an intriguing one and one that brings up a lot of great questions about what makes us human and valuable (I always enjoy books that make me think a little!) As we follow Addie and Eva, we see how they are two separate and unique entities, just stuck in the same body. We wonder how one soul could possibly be more important than the other and how anyone could wish to destroy a sentient, thoughtful being.

In a kind of alternate future, Addie and Eva are two souls living in the same body. In their world, to be born this way is normal. What's not normal is to not "settle", for one soul to not fade away. For the past three years, Eva has been living silently, watching the world around her and Addie without letting anyone but Addie know she's there. For if they did, she and Addie would be locked away to be "treated" for hybridism, a very dangerous situation. Despite their best efforts, someone finds them out and offers Eva a way to move again, to be in control. It's the biggest risk they could take, but Eva has to live again, or fade away forever.

The back of my ARC sells this as The Golden Compass meets Never Let Me Go, and I wholeheartedly agree with that! (By the way, two of my favorite books of all time. So, yeah, I needed to read this.) Both books are shocking in the best kind of way, drawing you in and making you squirm. What's Left of Me is the exact same way.

I loved loved loved the relationship between Addie and Eva. Theirs is a kind of relationship we as readers have no way of truly identifying with, no background to build on, but Kat Zhang made them and their dynamic so realistic and believable that it just didn't matter. Addie and Eva fought like sisters, in many ways, but they have the distinct disadvantage of being in the same head and the same body, with no way of getting away from one another. They know each other like themselves and their personalities complement one another. I was fascinated to read their arguments and see their dependence on one another.

The only thing I have to complain about in What's Left of Me is the world-building. I did find it, at times, a little bit lacking. I've waxed poetic about how world-building is really not a big concern for me, but, for whatever reason, it was in this book. The explanations of the hybrids just weren't enough. The discussion of the state of the rest of the world just wasn't enough. All in all, I just wasn't give enough information. There weren't holes in the world-building, but I just couldn't get a firm grasp on it.

Even so, What's Left of Me is a fantastic read. Not only is it fascinating and thought-provoking, it is action-packed and a little bit romantic. You'll feel for Addie and Eva and the other hybrids and you'll be dying to know more after it's over. Luckily Once We Were, the second book, is out in September (which isn't the longest time to wait, but it's also not especially short...)

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