Review: What's Left of Me

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)Title: What's Left of Me
Author: Kat Zhang
Genre: Science fiction, dystopia, YA

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had such a cool concept - everyone is born with two souls, and the recessive soul "fading" away as the child grows older. But what happens when the recessive soul doesn't really go away?

That's situation that Addie and Eva face. The story tells their journey from hiding the fact that they are a hybrid ("hybrid" being the term for people who maintain both souls) to discovering fellow hybrids to uncovering the truth of why America stigmatizes hybrids while the rest of the world is mostly made up of people who continue to have two souls. There are a lot of questions raised about identity and sacrifice - who are you when you are so inextricably tied to another soul that you can't always tell the difference? How much should you sacrifice for your sister soul, and how much should you stand up for yourself? Should you hide who you are in order to protect the people you love?

I really liked how the story was told from the point of view of Eva, the recessive soul. It was interesting seeing her viewpoint because most of the world doesn't know she exists. She has spent her life hiding, losing physical control of the body she and Addie share as the world denies her existence. While Addie is caring, she doesn't always realize that Eva has hopes and dreams of her own. This comes to a head when they discover that they aren't the only ones who still have two souls, and they learn that there is a way for Eva to become stronger.

I don't want to say too much about the second half of the book (or is it more the last third?), but things take a turn for the worse and Addie and Eva have to make some difficult choices. I wish more of the book had been devoted to this part of the book, since it dealt with the meatier questions and had more implications for the world in this book. This section was pretty intense, and there were a couple of heartbreaking moments. (view spoiler)[ When Addie discovered that Eli wasn't actually Eli at all, I felt so terrible. It must have been so hard to take on the identity of his other soul, knowing that his other half was gone forever. (hide spoiler)]

I enjoyed the book and the ethical questions it raised, but I have a few reservations (hence four stars instead of five). While Addie and Eva were definitely strong and realistic characters, somehow I didn't fully connect with them. I didn't really know who to root for, so I wasn't as invested in their story as I would have liked. I also felt like the last third of the book could have been more intense and wrenching. There were definitely some disturbing moments, but what was going on was quite sinister and that could have been emphasized more. Also, the concept of a romantic relationship when there is only one body with two souls baffles me. How can the same body be attracted to different people? It's a little weird - you would expect the hormone thing to make both girls feel the same way (or at least empathize), but Addie seemed to recoil at Eva's kiss. I understand that they were different people, but this raises the question of how anyone outside of America - where most people are hybrids - has romantic relationships and children.

I enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure I'll be reading the second book. While this one was interesting, I don't think it was quite engaging enough to make me grab the second novel.

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  1. Great review! I agree on a lot of your points. I'll probably pick up the second one to see where it goes, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters.

    My review of What's Left of Me

  2. Oh, interesting! The idea of two souls in one body definitely reminds me of The Host, especially with liking different guys, etc. I've heard mixed things about this one, but I'm glad you mostly enjoyed it.


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