Genres: YA Sci-fi
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
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.
The dark horse ride again! And wow, was the ride intense. I came into What’s Left of Me with absolutely no expectations, and what I got blew me away. I need more fantastic YA novels in my life and Zhang gave me exactly what I have been asking for.
Addie and Eva’s relationship as twin souls sharing the same body in a world where hybrids like them are despised, locked up, and considered dangerous is complex and what I would expect from two people in such a situation, though I feel the complexity of their relationship was not explored to its full extent. All the things they have to share whether or not they want to, deeper feelings about their dynamic–details like these are touched on, but I would have liked to see them be delved into more thoroughly. Nevertheless, my heart ached for these girls.
Eva’s position as the narrator when she interacts so little with the story she is part of is a different twist than what I’m used to and I loved it. Her story is tightly told and kept me in my seat when there were a million other things I should have been doing instead of reading this novel. (Eva also gets a bonus for narrating in past tense. Nothing against novels told in present tense, but I can only read so much present tense before I want to do what my brother did and slam my head through a glass door.)
The romantic element is on the backburner for almost the entire novel and it’s better that way. The focus remains on the bond between the characters, which makes the two characters coming together for their requisite romantic kiss at the end that much sweeter (and it was sweet, I promise; even I liked it). Distracting readers with romance when the bond of sisterhood between Addie and Eva and the question of what happens to hybrids when they’re found out would have hurt What’s Left of Me.
The government line put out about hybrids (they’re dangerous!) doesn’t work well. Why are they dangerous? The explanation offered doesn’t fully satisfy me with its circular logic (they’re dangerous because they’re dangerous). Some issues hybrids may have are put out, such as mental instability and constant frustration because of two possibly-incompatible souls sharing one body, but nothing is offered that makes it sound even plausible that they’re dangers to society. The hybrids have good reason to be angry, though–the normals deposed their government, labeled them all threats to society, and started locking them up. Readers are supposed to think the government line is idiotic, but it is so bad that I’m not sure why so many people within the novel believe it.
There is apparently technology in their world that can detect souls? It’s one thing if it can detect changes in brain activity when Eva and Addie “talk”, but some of the research I did indicated that usually happens with more intense cases of DID/MPD. Addie and Eva’s case is anything but intense by even their standards. I will admit this could have been a misinterpretation on my part. And the small anti-vaxxer slant of the novel? I’m not really into that either, and that’s really all I can say about it.
My review kind of makes it sound like I didn’t like it much, but I swear I did. I don’t enjoy books the way I enjoyed What’s Left of Me very often and the little issues are next to nothing for me. I’ll definitely be back for more of The Hybrid Chronicles. Put this on your to-read lists, everyone. Zhang is an author to watch.