Title: What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)
Author: Kat Zhang
Released: 18th September 2012
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I kept meaning to read this book for so long. The reviews trickled in, my reading pile grew, my workload climbed ever higher...and as time went on this book was pushed to the back of my mind, in the farthest corner, and left there to gather dust, until finally. Finally, I read it. And it surpassed any expectations I ever had.
In Eva and Addie's world, each person born into the world is actually two people, where one body is home to two souls. Of those two souls, one is dominant and one recessive, and it is the latter that is supposed to eventually fade in childhood. In this case, Eva is the recessive soul - but she didn't fade. Tests were run, theories were made, until finally Addie was pronounced healthy. All this time, Addie has had to pretend that she's normal like any other person, because hybrids are the biggest thing that people have been taught to fear. This goes on until Eva and Addie discover that there may be a cure, a way for Eva to have her own control. But this propels them into circumstances that they've been trying to avoid all their lives, and now the matter of survival is greater than it ever was before.
What's Left of Me swallowed me whole right from the start. Zhang brings to us an original and intriguing concept, and with an excellect idea came excellent execution. The idea of two souls in one body is a frightening one. In the first instance, I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have another soul inside of me. My own head is chaotic enough without someone else adding their own contributions, and I know I wouldn't be able to stand anyone's voice in my head for any amount of time, let alone my whole life. Even more than that, imagine having no control? As a recessive soul, there'd be no way for you have your voice heard, for you to move where you want, do what you want. I think that kind of life would honestly drive me insane. And for the disappearance of this soul, the effective death, to be an accepted thing? Truly horrible. Zhang managed to underline perfectly everything that comes along with this concept of two souls, exploring it to its full potential. Her writing is beautiful and captured everything, from emotions, to voices, to personalities.
The relationship between Addie and Eva is a fabulous example of this. Eva's frustration, and her desire to be acknowledged, accepted, loved, came across so clearly. There were times I disliked Addie for her selfishness, willing her to at least understand that Eva had a right to life just as much of her. But at the same time, it was obvious that she did understand. Despite their occasional disagreements, it's clear that they love each other and that neither can really do without the other. Both have their own distinctive voice, and I was very admiring of the fact that the author never confused her pronouns, separating Addie's actions and experiences from Eva's. I imagine it must have been hard to try and keep up with it, yet there were no mistakes. In fact, every secondary character was fleshed out; every soul met has their own personality. Even the romance worked. There was little of it, but what there was was laced expertly in the plot and proved to be very enjoyable.
The plot itself was brilliant. It started off slow and then gradually picked up, but the pacing was always exactly right. But I can't begin to tell you how emotional I became reading this. The revelations, twists and turns that made up the plot left me feeling angry, horrorstruck, full of sorrow. I couldn't believe the lies that people were believing. The ordeal that hybrids were put through. The fact that they were on their own. I sort of liked Eva and Addie's parents, I felt sorry for them, but there came a point where I was so disappointed in them, even though I had seen it coming. Eva and Addie in comparison had so much strength. Kat Zhang has truly created something amazing and heart-wrenching here, for me at least.
What's Left of Me has proven itself to be a tremendous story of hope, pain, courage. It's a story that has more than lived up to its potential, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next in this journey with Addie and Eva.