What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: hybrid souls, destructive government, sci-fi
Format read: ARC received from HarperCollins at TLA.
Summary: Addie and Eva are two souls occupying one body, one of which should have gone dormant, but never did; Eva wants the opportunity to fight back so she doesn’t disappear completely.
What’s Left of Me is a very unique and compelling idea: two souls born into one body. Before puberty, one of the souls is supposed to subside and fade away, leaving the other to dominate the body. This process never completely happened for Eva and Addie. Though Eva is definitely the weaker of the two, she’s still very much alive and with Addie. The complication is that the government cannot know. Hybrids are not allowed to exist. When Addie is approached by a girl in her class to help Eva regain her functions, Addie is hesitant. Eva is hungry for the opportunity to learn how to make their body speak and move again.
Did you notice my use of “their body” above? One of the most difficult things for me to grasp while reading What’s Left of Me was the plurality. I was trying to comprehend how the two souls were within one body. Eva (the main protagonist) always referred to things as “our body” or “our hand.” I wasn’t entirely sure what Eva could or could not do within the body. The girls could have discussions with each other (without being heard verbally). If Addie and Eva didn’t have to hide Eva’s existence, each girl would be able to “control” the body and her mannerisms or personality would take over.
That’s exactly what Eva is hoping for. She wants to regain control of her life again, while Addie is nervous hers will be destroyed. These two girls felt such conflicting emotions, and at times, couldn’t get along because they were experiencing such polar opposite emotions. While the story is told from submissive Eva’s point of view, I often found myself sympathizing more with Addie. Addie who was afraid to lose everything – who was the glue that held everything together. Eva could be perceived as whiny and selfish, and I struggled with her lack of foresight and concern about what would happen. Maybe that was a result of Addie always being in control? I almost felt as if Addie was the mature older sister and Eva was the bothersome younger sibling, despite that they were born into the body at the same time.
With the new world, it took me a little longer than usual to get into the story. I like a clear understanding of where a book is going and what I should be hoping for. Zhang definitely kept me guessing with unexpected plot twists and turns, which I loved, but I did hope to grasp the setting a bit more. Why were hybrids so bad (according to the government)? What happened in the war that made hybrids unwanted? Why were they being killed off? Some of these things were addressed throughout the book, but I would have found them helpful to know upfront.
Regardless of my drawbacks, I did find What’s Left of Me to be entertaining. I remember feeling similar emotions regarding the world and how the souls occupied the bodies when I read The Host by Stephanie Meyer; it took me nearly 150 pages to fully accept the world. While The Host a standalone book and over 600 pages, I suppose it is understandable for me to feel like I’m still seeking answers since What’s Left of Me is part of a series. I’m looking forward to seeing where The Hybrid Chronicles takes me next.