Series: The Hybrid Chronicles, #1
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Number of Pages: 356
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
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…In the world of What’s Left of Me, children are born with two souls. One of those souls is dominant, and the other is recessive. Within a few years of the child’s life, the recessive soul will fade away (settle) leaving behind the dominant soul. But what happens when you don’t settle, and are known as a Hybrid? Addie and Eva are faced with that problem, being fifteen and having not settled yet. In a world where being a Hybrid is considered dangerous and a threat, Addie and Eva have to keep the fact that they have not yet settled a secret. But, as obstacles get in their way, can they?
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.
What’s Left of Me was amazing, and I absolutely loved it, but still, I’m torn on whether to give it five stars, or four stars. I want to give it five stars because the pace was crisp; the plot is brilliant and original beyond belief, and the concept that the story is told from the recessive soul, Eva, was a great twist on the common narrator. Everything was refreshing, fun, and there was never a dull or boring moment when reading What’s Left of Me, but it just missed… something.
In What’s Left of Me, we’re told right off the bat that Hybrids are dangerous, and if you have suspicions that someone might be a Hybrid, report them immediately, for they are a threat to everyone. But, we’re never actually given a reason as to why Hybrids are so dangerous, and whenever the book said how dangerous Hybrids were, I just thought, “Why?” I suppose maybe they aren’t dangerous and it’s all a prejudice thing, and that's why there never was an explanation? Again, I’m not too sure, but I hope everything is cleared up in book two. As well as that little world-building flaw, there was a flaw in the writing for me that, while little at first, grew to be an annoyance the more I read the book.
Zhang’s prose is beautiful, and, like the plot, the writing is crisp and it makes for fast reading (although it took me a staggering eight days to finish this), but, unfortunately, Zhang uses an overwhelming amount of repetition when writing. At first, this was something I was able to look over easily, but, like I said, as I read more and more, and the use of repetition became more and more frequent, I became annoyed, but not overly so that I was unable to enjoy the book. And lastly in the things that make me conflicted on whether I should be giving What’s Left of Me four or five stars was that the ending felt too anticlimactic given all the buildup for it throughout the novel, and it was a bit too neat for my likings.
Now onto less ranty things about What’s Left of Me’s rare flaws, and much more praising on everything else that’s in What’s Left of Me, because everything else was amazing.
Right from the start (actually, right when I finished the prologue), I knew that I was going to cry at least once when reading this book (I cried three times). Eva’s voice and experiences (or lack of) were heartbreaking, as was reading about her longing to talk, to move her fingers even—all of the things we normally take for granted—but she was physically unable to do. And, although for most of the book she couldn’t even move her fingers, she was still stronger than half of the heroines in YA literature, and that’s saying something.
Another thing to absolutely love about What’s Left of Me is that all of the characters are flawed and believable, as are all of their relationships, especially the sisterly relationship between Eva and Addie, which was portrayed expertly. And, while there is some romance in What’s Left of Me, it takes up a very minor part in the actual story, and you might even forget there was a romance to begin with (like me).
Overall, despite the problems I had when reading What’s Left of Me (and, when next to the things I didn’t have a problem with, they seem very minor) I absolutely loved this book, and recommend it to anyone looking for an original and refreshing new YA story.
*After I finished writing this review, I've decided that I’m giving What's Left of Me 4.5 stars.*