Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

 

 

Title:  What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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.


Review:

Wow, wow, wow!  This is one of the most original YA books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative is tense and compelling, and the setting, which is revealed in small, teasing snippets, is thought-provoking.  I admit that when I first picked this up, I was skeptical about it holding my interest.  Eva, the narrator, is the less dominate soul, and she shares her body with Addie.  Addie has complete control of their body, and Eva, at first, just seems to be along for the ride.  As they make two new friends, however, Eva is given the hope that someday she might have some control back over the limbs and voice she shares with Addie.  Once the government discovers that Eva still exists, however, she and Addie are imprisoned in a medical facility where the evil Mr Conivent promises their parents that Addie will be “cured.”  Using their ill brother’s medical treatments as the bait to take custody of the girls, Eva and Addie discover a sinister plot to cut one of the forbidden souls from the hybrids the scientists are experimenting on. 

Addie and Eva are deviants in their society.  Everyone is born with two souls, and by the age of ten, most of the lesser souls have “settled,” leaving only the dominant soul behind.  Eva and Addie never settled, but after being shuttled from doctor to doctor, they have learned to keep Eva’s continued existence at secret.  They pretend that they have settled because they realize how important it is to be considered “normal.”  They are tired of doctors, tests, and examinations, and they are afraid of what will happen if it’s discovered that Eva’s soul still very much entwined with Addie’s.

When Addie and Eva form an uneasy friendship with Hally, their secret is exposed, and they are confined to Nornand, a government institution.  They discover the terrible truth about the fate of the children who they have been told have gone home.  With their lives on the line, they desperately seek a way to escape the institution.

I liked both Addie and Eva.  They are scared to death, but they take frightening risks to find a way to freedom, not just for themselves, but for all of the hybrids at Nornand.  In order to learn more about what’s going on, they do some things that had my heart pounding.  Sneaking around and learning the secrets of Nornand, when it’s obvious that the doctors and nurses, and later, the review board, don’t care about their health, safety, or well-being, had me on the edge of my seat.  I hated having to put the book down to go to work!

I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  I loved the main protagonists and the the secondary characters, and I completely bought into the plot.  I found What’s Left of Me to be a suspenseful, exciting read.  This book lived up to, and even exceeded, all of my expectations.  I enjoyed the time I spent with Addie, Eva, Hally, and Devon, and hope to spend more time with them in the future.

Grade: B+/A-

Review copy obtained from my local library