Books Young Adult Fiction What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1)

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) Featured

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3.9 (4)
 
4.0 (7)
1160   2
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
September 18, 2012
ISBN
9780062114877
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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.

Editor reviews

Average editor rating from: 4 user(s)

Overall rating 
 
3.9
Plot 
 
3.8  (4)
Characters 
 
4.0  (4)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (4)

What's Left of Me not only features a stunning cover, but it truly cap­tures Eva and Addie, the two protagonists. Eva, the reces­sive soul that should have dis­ap­peared accord­ing to her soci­ety, was born and marked for death. And Addie, the dom­i­nate soul, des­tined to for­get her best friend and other half. But they share a secret. They are hybrids, a title coined to those with reces­sive souls that refused to just fade away. To the gov­ern­ment they are deemed a threat to soci­ety and there­fore must be locked up, con­tained, fixed or be killed.

The best part of What's Left of Me was the rela­tion­ship between Addie and Eva. I have to sit and applaud Zhang's skill at craft­ing two very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, who share the same body, yet they strug­gle to portray just one per­son to every­one else. Against her bet­ter judge­ment, Addie agrees to prac­tice let­ting Eva take control of their body. She knows what this could mean for them if they are caught and discovered. How­ever, she also knows how much it means to Eva to not just be the soul every­one else thinks is gone. Eva wants to be real. So they take the risk and their worst fears are, unfor­tu­nately, realized.

Quote: "We'd been born with our souls' fin­gers inter­locked. What if we'd never let go?"

The bond and love these two sis­ter had for one another was phe­nom­e­nal and, at times, tear jerk­ing. Though, I should say I did not cry dur­ing this novel. But I will say it was deeply emo­tional when the sisters inter­nally strug­gled to ful­fill both souls' needs with­out depriv­ing the other. Of course, this was nearly impos­si­ble. Eva is the reces­sive soul and as such is used to lit­er­ally tak­ing the back­seat to whatever Addie needs or wants. At times that frus­trated me to no end because I could just feel Eva ready to burst free and be her own per­son, but Addie would take those moments away from her.

Quote: "I was caged in our body and caged in his arms and, some­how, the for­mer was the real prison."

And while I remained angry at Addie for her self­ish­ness, Eva not once blamed her sis­ter for the way she felt. That is not to say they always got along. There were quite a few times they stopped talk­ing to each other in the novel, but I just loved how they made up.

Not only did Zhang have to keep track of Addie and Eva's char­ac­ters, but she cre­ated two char­ac­ters in one body in sev­eral dif­fer­ent instances. Now, I know from read­ing that sen­tence, that may A) not make a lot of sense or B) not sound very dif­fi­cult. But it fas­ci­nated me how Zhang pulled it off. There were times where Addie and Eva would be talk­ing with a char­ac­ter only for him/her to switch mid-conversation to their other soul. So you have two dif­fer­ent man­ner­isms, facial expres­sions, tone, ect. for this one per­son and you have Addie and Eva able to not only tell the dif­fer­ence between the two, but to also con­vince the reader of the switch. And I'll even take it a step fur­ther to say that after a cer­tain point I could tell which soul was who before Addie and Eva con­firmed it for me. I think this is a tes­ta­ment to just how well these char­ac­ters were crafted.

And that is where the pac­ing and plot come into play. At first I thought the book was mov­ing too fast in the begin­ning because I was get­ting intro­duced to a bunch of new char­ac­ters and STUFF was hap­pen­ing very quickly, but it works well that way. Look­ing back, What's Left of Me doesn't really have much downtime because some­thing is always hap­pen­ing, but at the same time it doesn't read like a thriller either because it's not exactly action packed. Oxy­moron? Why, yes. But it was riv­et­ing and I felt I NEEDED to figure out the mystery to why the hybrids were treated so badly. Inter­est­ingly, I would usu­ally take this time to point out and com­plain about world build­ing flaws. There is very lit­tle mention of the out­side world and how they deal with hybrids. But, it works in this instance. The reader is inten­tion­ally kept in the dark until a few plot twists are revealed. Even after com­plet­ing the novel, I feel like there is so much more to come.

Final Verdict: This novel was so fas­ci­nat­ing and awe­some. After all that I just have one last thing to say: More now, please.
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Stephanie Sinclair, Editor Reviewed by Stephanie Sinclair, Editor June 19, 2013
Last updated: June 19, 2013
Top 100 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (39)

Fascinating and Compelling

What's Left of Me not only features a stunning cover, but it truly cap­tures Eva and Addie, the two protagonists. Eva, the reces­sive soul that should have dis­ap­peared accord­ing to her soci­ety, was born and marked for death. And Addie, the dom­i­nate soul, des­tined to for­get her best friend and other half. But they share a secret. They are hybrids, a title coined to those with reces­sive souls that refused to just fade away. To the gov­ern­ment they are deemed a threat to soci­ety and there­fore must be locked up, con­tained, fixed or be killed.

The best part of What's Left of Me was the rela­tion­ship between Addie and Eva. I have to sit and applaud Zhang's skill at craft­ing two very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, who share the same body, yet they strug­gle to portray just one per­son to every­one else. Against her bet­ter judge­ment, Addie agrees to prac­tice let­ting Eva take control of their body. She knows what this could mean for them if they are caught and discovered. How­ever, she also knows how much it means to Eva to not just be the soul every­one else thinks is gone. Eva wants to be real. So they take the risk and their worst fears are, unfor­tu­nately, realized.

Quote: "We'd been born with our souls' fin­gers inter­locked. What if we'd never let go?"

The bond and love these two sis­ter had for one another was phe­nom­e­nal and, at times, tear jerk­ing. Though, I should say I did not cry dur­ing this novel. But I will say it was deeply emo­tional when the sisters inter­nally strug­gled to ful­fill both souls' needs with­out depriv­ing the other. Of course, this was nearly impos­si­ble. Eva is the reces­sive soul and as such is used to lit­er­ally tak­ing the back­seat to whatever Addie needs or wants. At times that frus­trated me to no end because I could just feel Eva ready to burst free and be her own per­son, but Addie would take those moments away from her.

Quote: "I was caged in our body and caged in his arms and, some­how, the for­mer was the real prison."

And while I remained angry at Addie for her self­ish­ness, Eva not once blamed her sis­ter for the way she felt. That is not to say they always got along. There were quite a few times they stopped talk­ing to each other in the novel, but I just loved how they made up.

Not only did Zhang have to keep track of Addie and Eva's char­ac­ters, but she cre­ated two char­ac­ters in one body in sev­eral dif­fer­ent instances. Now, I know from read­ing that sen­tence, that may A) not make a lot of sense or B) not sound very dif­fi­cult. But it fas­ci­nated me how Zhang pulled it off. There were times where Addie and Eva would be talk­ing with a char­ac­ter only for him/her to switch mid-conversation to their other soul. So you have two dif­fer­ent man­ner­isms, facial expres­sions, tone, ect. for this one per­son and you have Addie and Eva able to not only tell the dif­fer­ence between the two, but to also con­vince the reader of the switch. And I'll even take it a step fur­ther to say that after a cer­tain point I could tell which soul was who before Addie and Eva con­firmed it for me. I think this is a tes­ta­ment to just how well these char­ac­ters were crafted.

And that is where the pac­ing and plot come into play. At first I thought the book was mov­ing too fast in the begin­ning because I was get­ting intro­duced to a bunch of new char­ac­ters and STUFF was hap­pen­ing very quickly, but it works well that way. Look­ing back, What's Left of Me doesn't really have much downtime because some­thing is always hap­pen­ing, but at the same time it doesn't read like a thriller either because it's not exactly action packed. Oxy­moron? Why, yes. But it was riv­et­ing and I felt I NEEDED to figure out the mystery to why the hybrids were treated so badly. Inter­est­ingly, I would usu­ally take this time to point out and com­plain about world build­ing flaws. There is very lit­tle mention of the out­side world and how they deal with hybrids. But, it works in this instance. The reader is inten­tion­ally kept in the dark until a few plot twists are revealed. Even after com­plet­ing the novel, I feel like there is so much more to come.

Final Verdict: This novel was so fas­ci­nat­ing and awe­some. After all that I just have one last thing to say: More now, please.

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I have to admit the premise of this story intrigued me and the writing at the beginning kept my interest. There's alot of promise in this debut novel. I love unique YA Sci-fi stories.

At the beginning I was hooked with the writing that swept me away into this alternate America with children/teens who struggle with two souls.

Then the story felt more like GOLDEN COMPASS only instead of Daemon(animal guides)this story has two souls trapped in a body. In this alternate world when children reach a certain age, they 'settle' or the other soul 'disappears'. Only in the case of Addie, her other soul, Eva, stays. While in school another girl catches her eye, Hally, who would be popular only she's foreign. Only there might be more then that.


The writing moves along well enough but when Zhang goes back and forth with the different souls? It got distracting and very jarring. A better example of using this format has to be THE HOST by Stephanie Meyer.

The hospital scene was suspenseful and the experiments they do on the hybrid children are pretty chilling. Also the dialogue moves this story right along. I did have a few questions though that include what happens when one soul 'falls in love' with someone that the other soul hates? **This is touched on only briefly and towards the end of the novel. Wouldn't a parent know if another soul is still inside their child? As a mother I know when something is up with my own kiddo. It's called mother's intuition. I didn't get a sense of that in this story. Also I wanted more emotional reactions and to see more conflicts/struggles going on with not only the hybirds but others in this society.

Intriguing premise set in an alternative America that is promising but falls a little short. I'm hoping that the next book shows us more of what happens in the rebellion and also the consequences of keeping both souls. Still there's some promise with this series. I'm curious where book two will go next!
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Kim Baccellia, Editor Reviewed by Kim Baccellia, Editor September 30, 2012
Last updated: September 30, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (373)

What's Left of Me

I have to admit the premise of this story intrigued me and the writing at the beginning kept my interest. There's alot of promise in this debut novel. I love unique YA Sci-fi stories.

At the beginning I was hooked with the writing that swept me away into this alternate America with children/teens who struggle with two souls.

Then the story felt more like GOLDEN COMPASS only instead of Daemon(animal guides)this story has two souls trapped in a body. In this alternate world when children reach a certain age, they 'settle' or the other soul 'disappears'. Only in the case of Addie, her other soul, Eva, stays. While in school another girl catches her eye, Hally, who would be popular only she's foreign. Only there might be more then that.


The writing moves along well enough but when Zhang goes back and forth with the different souls? It got distracting and very jarring. A better example of using this format has to be THE HOST by Stephanie Meyer.

The hospital scene was suspenseful and the experiments they do on the hybrid children are pretty chilling. Also the dialogue moves this story right along. I did have a few questions though that include what happens when one soul 'falls in love' with someone that the other soul hates? **This is touched on only briefly and towards the end of the novel. Wouldn't a parent know if another soul is still inside their child? As a mother I know when something is up with my own kiddo. It's called mother's intuition. I didn't get a sense of that in this story. Also I wanted more emotional reactions and to see more conflicts/struggles going on with not only the hybirds but others in this society.

Intriguing premise set in an alternative America that is promising but falls a little short. I'm hoping that the next book shows us more of what happens in the rebellion and also the consequences of keeping both souls. Still there's some promise with this series. I'm curious where book two will go next!

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It isn't often that a book really takes me by surprise with an original concept. What's Left of Me did exactly that. Even better than an original concept is the beautiful, compelling writing. I don't think there's anything about this story that I didn't appreciate and enjoy.

The concept of two souls born into every body is intriguing. Add to that a government that actively (you have NO IDEA how actively until you finish reading!) seeks to make sure all kids have "settled" (the recessive soul fades away into nothing) by the time they're ten or else they're labeled hybrids and institutionalized, and you have a delicious recipe for disaster when two souls refuse to settle. Toss in a large dose of government propoganda against hybrids and a nice big pack of lies and secrets, and the stakes are even higher.

But all of that glitzy concept aside, this book is wonderful because the writing is wonderful. I had no trouble keeping up with which soul/character was speaking as they each have such distinct personalities. I enjoyed the fact that Addie and Eva make many mistakes or panic and freeze when they should probably run because that's real. Most teenage girls with a huge secret to hide who land on the radar of a terrifying government agency wouldn't have clue one in how to deal with it. I appreciated the emotional journey the characters took as well. It was fraught with drama and mistakes and love.

I was utterly compelled. I thought about the story when I had to put the book aside to deal with real life, which is the mark of a really great story to me. I highly recommend and will eagerly anticipate the sequel!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
CJ Redwine, Editor Reviewed by CJ Redwine, Editor September 07, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (378)

Creative & Compelling

It isn't often that a book really takes me by surprise with an original concept. What's Left of Me did exactly that. Even better than an original concept is the beautiful, compelling writing. I don't think there's anything about this story that I didn't appreciate and enjoy.

The concept of two souls born into every body is intriguing. Add to that a government that actively (you have NO IDEA how actively until you finish reading!) seeks to make sure all kids have "settled" (the recessive soul fades away into nothing) by the time they're ten or else they're labeled hybrids and institutionalized, and you have a delicious recipe for disaster when two souls refuse to settle. Toss in a large dose of government propoganda against hybrids and a nice big pack of lies and secrets, and the stakes are even higher.

But all of that glitzy concept aside, this book is wonderful because the writing is wonderful. I had no trouble keeping up with which soul/character was speaking as they each have such distinct personalities. I enjoyed the fact that Addie and Eva make many mistakes or panic and freeze when they should probably run because that's real. Most teenage girls with a huge secret to hide who land on the radar of a terrifying government agency wouldn't have clue one in how to deal with it. I appreciated the emotional journey the characters took as well. It was fraught with drama and mistakes and love.

I was utterly compelled. I thought about the story when I had to put the book aside to deal with real life, which is the mark of a really great story to me. I highly recommend and will eagerly anticipate the sequel!

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This is one of the coolest covers I've seen in a really long time! I've been staring at it for a couple of weeks and only just now noticed the profile of the other girl.

I was really looking forward to reading this because the summary sounded intriguing and unique. Kat Zhang has done an excellent job of presenting a story that questions what it is that makes us a person. Is it our soul or is it a physical body?

This was more Sci-Fi than I expected and I did find it hard to keep track of who was who at times. For example, you might have three physical people in the same room but there would actually be six total - two souls each sharing one body. When the topic of romance came up, I felt a little awkward because how do you handle a kissing situation when both people can experience things but only one wants too? I'm sure this will be explored in future books but I couldn't help thinking that it vaguely reminded me of a Siamese Twin scenario.

I do feel this story is well written with a very interesting concept and raises thought provoking questions. While it may not have been the book for me, someone else will love it, I have no doubt!
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Jen, Editor Reviewed by Jen, Editor August 05, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (402)

Interesting concept.

This is one of the coolest covers I've seen in a really long time! I've been staring at it for a couple of weeks and only just now noticed the profile of the other girl.

I was really looking forward to reading this because the summary sounded intriguing and unique. Kat Zhang has done an excellent job of presenting a story that questions what it is that makes us a person. Is it our soul or is it a physical body?

This was more Sci-Fi than I expected and I did find it hard to keep track of who was who at times. For example, you might have three physical people in the same room but there would actually be six total - two souls each sharing one body. When the topic of romance came up, I felt a little awkward because how do you handle a kissing situation when both people can experience things but only one wants too? I'm sure this will be explored in future books but I couldn't help thinking that it vaguely reminded me of a Siamese Twin scenario.

I do feel this story is well written with a very interesting concept and raises thought provoking questions. While it may not have been the book for me, someone else will love it, I have no doubt!

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.3  (7)
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4.0  (7)
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3.8  (6)
What's Left of Me surprised me, it was just brilliant, amazing, awesome and chilling. It has to be one of my favourite books, and I can prove this if you look further up the page to see that I have clicked the "Add to Favourites" button. What's Left of Me has me wanting to see what happens in the next books, not like some other books that have me only mildly interested.

I thought that this book was in our future, but as you progress into the book, it becomes clear that it is around the same time as now, but in a parallel universe. A universe where everyone is born with two souls inside the one body, and by the age of ten, one soul is meant disappear while the other dominates. Well that's what supposed to happen.

Eva is the main character book, but what makes her different to all the other characters in every other book is that she has no control over her body, and is sharing her body with her other soul, Addie. Eva watches through their eyes, and sees Addie live their life, without her. Except in their head, where they communicate. This book makes me think really hard, it seems awful not being able to live, but the way Addie and Eva work together shows that you'll always have someone.

I thought that it was brilliant to have the book told in Eva's point of view. The soul that was shunned and has no control over anything that happens to their body. I thought that she was so strong to keep fighting even when her parents, her friends and even Addie told her to give up, so much stronger than a lot of other protagonists. Eva proves that even if you have nothing, not giving up means losing yourself.

It's really hard to describe what happens in this book, as you can see in my review, that probably makes you more confused than less. I just want to say that this book is beautiful, in every aspect, and shows you that there is always hope, no matter what.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Casog Reviewed by Casog January 05, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (261)

Two souls, one great book

What's Left of Me surprised me, it was just brilliant, amazing, awesome and chilling. It has to be one of my favourite books, and I can prove this if you look further up the page to see that I have clicked the "Add to Favourites" button. What's Left of Me has me wanting to see what happens in the next books, not like some other books that have me only mildly interested.

I thought that this book was in our future, but as you progress into the book, it becomes clear that it is around the same time as now, but in a parallel universe. A universe where everyone is born with two souls inside the one body, and by the age of ten, one soul is meant disappear while the other dominates. Well that's what supposed to happen.

Eva is the main character book, but what makes her different to all the other characters in every other book is that she has no control over her body, and is sharing her body with her other soul, Addie. Eva watches through their eyes, and sees Addie live their life, without her. Except in their head, where they communicate. This book makes me think really hard, it seems awful not being able to live, but the way Addie and Eva work together shows that you'll always have someone.

I thought that it was brilliant to have the book told in Eva's point of view. The soul that was shunned and has no control over anything that happens to their body. I thought that she was so strong to keep fighting even when her parents, her friends and even Addie told her to give up, so much stronger than a lot of other protagonists. Eva proves that even if you have nothing, not giving up means losing yourself.

It's really hard to describe what happens in this book, as you can see in my review, that probably makes you more confused than less. I just want to say that this book is beautiful, in every aspect, and shows you that there is always hope, no matter what.

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What’s Left of Me is awesome, awesome, awesome. It’s officially one of my favorite books of 2012 and one of the series’ I’ll be impatiently awaiting to hear more from in the future.

For some reason I was kind of thinking of What’s Left of Me as a dystopian before I started, but it’s more scifi dealing with an alternate universe where having two souls just happens to be normal. Well, normal until you’re about 10 years-old, at least. It’s one thing to think of this world in an abstract way, but Zhang writes it in such a way that it feels so real I was occasionally feeling like my head was a little too empty. Kat Zhang has created a fantastically beautiful and complicated world in What’s Left of Me.

This book made me think and made me feel. What would it be like to have someone ALWAYS there sharing your mind? My reflex is to say it’d be terrible, but Addie and Eva make me stop and rethink. It’s hard sometimes, of course, but in the end they love each other and are always conscious of one another’s feelings.

I loved viewing the story from Eva’s point of view. The reader gets to feel the pain and loneliness of being pushed aside and forgotten. Of never being spoken of or spoken to. Of having no one and nothing in the world but your other half. Of you’re very existence being against everything you’ve been told your whole life.
But the reader also gets to feel the joy of a journey towards being remembered,.

The Nutshell: I could never hope to express the awesome beauty that is What’s Left of Me in one small review, but hopefully I’ve at least gotten you interested. If you’re looking for something with emotion, beauty, secrets, and an original story then go read this book NOW.

Direct Hit
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Jasmine Reviewed by Jasmine November 05, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (323)

What's Left of Me (A Room with Books review)

What’s Left of Me is awesome, awesome, awesome. It’s officially one of my favorite books of 2012 and one of the series’ I’ll be impatiently awaiting to hear more from in the future.

For some reason I was kind of thinking of What’s Left of Me as a dystopian before I started, but it’s more scifi dealing with an alternate universe where having two souls just happens to be normal. Well, normal until you’re about 10 years-old, at least. It’s one thing to think of this world in an abstract way, but Zhang writes it in such a way that it feels so real I was occasionally feeling like my head was a little too empty. Kat Zhang has created a fantastically beautiful and complicated world in What’s Left of Me.

This book made me think and made me feel. What would it be like to have someone ALWAYS there sharing your mind? My reflex is to say it’d be terrible, but Addie and Eva make me stop and rethink. It’s hard sometimes, of course, but in the end they love each other and are always conscious of one another’s feelings.

I loved viewing the story from Eva’s point of view. The reader gets to feel the pain and loneliness of being pushed aside and forgotten. Of never being spoken of or spoken to. Of having no one and nothing in the world but your other half. Of you’re very existence being against everything you’ve been told your whole life.
But the reader also gets to feel the joy of a journey towards being remembered,.

The Nutshell: I could never hope to express the awesome beauty that is What’s Left of Me in one small review, but hopefully I’ve at least gotten you interested. If you’re looking for something with emotion, beauty, secrets, and an original story then go read this book NOW.

Direct Hit

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I loved the concept of what's left of me and Zhang pulled it off wonderfully.
I enjoyed getting to know Eva and Addie, their similarities and differences. They were more different than I would have expected since I was picturing identical twins in the same body.
It was neat though how they communicated and how they had distinct personalities as well as approaches to the challenges they were faced with.
There was lots of character development along with a plot that kept me turning the pages and anxious to know what would happen next and how they would possibly get themselves our out the next pickle.
The secondary characters were also well done. I loved the suspense of Lissa and Devon and what their motivations were and watching their relationship with Addie and Eva grow.
There was always something going on, with surprising twists and characters that I didn't expect what they did as well as help from unexpected places. I was always looking for a few extra minutes to read and always wanting just a few more pages.
I will definitely continue this series and recommend it for fans of dystopia and science fiction.
Bottom line: Great plot, characters that I felt for and amazing premise.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
N/A
Brandi Reviewed by Brandi November 04, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (179)

Great plot, characters that I felt for and amazing premise.

I loved the concept of what's left of me and Zhang pulled it off wonderfully.
I enjoyed getting to know Eva and Addie, their similarities and differences. They were more different than I would have expected since I was picturing identical twins in the same body.
It was neat though how they communicated and how they had distinct personalities as well as approaches to the challenges they were faced with.
There was lots of character development along with a plot that kept me turning the pages and anxious to know what would happen next and how they would possibly get themselves our out the next pickle.
The secondary characters were also well done. I loved the suspense of Lissa and Devon and what their motivations were and watching their relationship with Addie and Eva grow.
There was always something going on, with surprising twists and characters that I didn't expect what they did as well as help from unexpected places. I was always looking for a few extra minutes to read and always wanting just a few more pages.
I will definitely continue this series and recommend it for fans of dystopia and science fiction.
Bottom line: Great plot, characters that I felt for and amazing premise.

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This book took some getting used to, because of the unnatural (yet accurate for the story) use of pronouns and verb conjugations. Because there are two people sharing one body, you get paragraphs like this:

"Kind of," Addie said. She managed to keep our voice bland despite Hally's dogged high spirits, but our fingers tugged at the bottom of our blouse. It had fit at the beginning of the year, when we'd bought all new uniforms for high school, but we'd grown taller since then. Our parents hadn't noticed, not with -- well, not with everything that was happening with Lyle -- and we hadn't said anything.

"Want to come over?" Hally said.

Addie's smile was strained. As far as we knew, Hally had never asked anyone over.

- page 8, What's Left of Me

Keeping in mind that all those "our"s and "we"s are talking about two individuals sharing the same body. Sometimes Addie acts independently of Eva, sometimes they act together. Sometimes people are addressing both of them, sometimes just one. You'd think it would be really confusing, but it's not once you get used to it. I do, however, feel sorry for Kat's editor. Grammarcheck would have had a hard time with this one.

I really liked that this story was told from the perspective of Eva, the recessive soul. It was fascinating watching Eva and Addie's sibling dynamic, when one of them had only a voice and no body. They could communicate with each other, but Eva couldn't speak with their voice to anyone else. So lots of times, Eva sat helplessly inside their body, urging Addie toward a course of action, only to have to suffer the consequences when Addie made a different choice.

Although it wasn't a major plot point of the book, I was completely fascinated by the family dynamics in the book. Eva and Addie's parents both, at some point during their lives, tell them that they love both of them. But at the same time, they urge Eva to fade away, and for Addie to assert her dominance. It's such a weird and challenging concept -- how should a parent's love be affected by having two children inhabiting the same body? And should they mourn the "death" of one for the good of the other, or should they simply accept it as the way life works? Eva, obviously, feels hurt by the withdrawal of her parents' affection -- from her, not Addie -- even as she tries to tell herself it's normal for them to stop talking to her. Again, this isn't actually a huge part of the story, but it was such an interesting question to me.

And the question necessarily expands to intertwine with the main narrative. Should one soul be forced to fade away, or do both have a right to share the body? And if both souls have equal rights to the body, who gets to choose what they do? If one soul is romantically attracted to someone and the other is not, which gets to follow their heart?

As Eva and Addie struggle with these philosophical questions, they have to deal with the physical problem of being taken and incarcerated if their hybrid nature is discovered. And so in addition to the internal struggle, there is a lot of external action, adventure, and peril. Even a touch of romance, although that too becomes a delicate and challenging situation. It's a great mix, and I was completely sucked in.

Eva's narration is sparse but effective, and the storytelling flowed nicely. There's still some huge questions at the end of the book, but it's not a cliffhanger. Truthfully, I don't know if it's possible to fully and neatly answer all of the questions raised by this book, so in that way, it would actually work as a standalone (even though it's the first of a trilogy). Oh, and although it's being touted as a dystopian, it's really not. Nor is it really sci-fi. More of an alternate reality. It's one of those books that's kind of hard to define, which I think actually broadens its appeal.

Although I actually have no tangible complaints with this book, I'm not giving it an A rating. This seems weird, but basically, I felt like there was room for something more, either more connection with the characters or more insight into this strange world. It's not that I think the book did anything wrong, it's that I feel there's potential for better. Because I thought this book was really good, but it didn't completely knock me off my feet. I feel like it could, and I'm almost expecting that from the sequel. But while this one was highly enjoyable, it didn't quite crack that amorphous bubble that houses my all-time favorites. That said, I still highly recommend it.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Lauren Thoman, Editor Reviewed by Lauren Thoman, Editor October 10, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (68)

Interesting concept with lots of struggle, of both the internal and external variety

This book took some getting used to, because of the unnatural (yet accurate for the story) use of pronouns and verb conjugations. Because there are two people sharing one body, you get paragraphs like this:

"Kind of," Addie said. She managed to keep our voice bland despite Hally's dogged high spirits, but our fingers tugged at the bottom of our blouse. It had fit at the beginning of the year, when we'd bought all new uniforms for high school, but we'd grown taller since then. Our parents hadn't noticed, not with -- well, not with everything that was happening with Lyle -- and we hadn't said anything.

"Want to come over?" Hally said.

Addie's smile was strained. As far as we knew, Hally had never asked anyone over.

- page 8, What's Left of Me

Keeping in mind that all those "our"s and "we"s are talking about two individuals sharing the same body. Sometimes Addie acts independently of Eva, sometimes they act together. Sometimes people are addressing both of them, sometimes just one. You'd think it would be really confusing, but it's not once you get used to it. I do, however, feel sorry for Kat's editor. Grammarcheck would have had a hard time with this one.

I really liked that this story was told from the perspective of Eva, the recessive soul. It was fascinating watching Eva and Addie's sibling dynamic, when one of them had only a voice and no body. They could communicate with each other, but Eva couldn't speak with their voice to anyone else. So lots of times, Eva sat helplessly inside their body, urging Addie toward a course of action, only to have to suffer the consequences when Addie made a different choice.

Although it wasn't a major plot point of the book, I was completely fascinated by the family dynamics in the book. Eva and Addie's parents both, at some point during their lives, tell them that they love both of them. But at the same time, they urge Eva to fade away, and for Addie to assert her dominance. It's such a weird and challenging concept -- how should a parent's love be affected by having two children inhabiting the same body? And should they mourn the "death" of one for the good of the other, or should they simply accept it as the way life works? Eva, obviously, feels hurt by the withdrawal of her parents' affection -- from her, not Addie -- even as she tries to tell herself it's normal for them to stop talking to her. Again, this isn't actually a huge part of the story, but it was such an interesting question to me.

And the question necessarily expands to intertwine with the main narrative. Should one soul be forced to fade away, or do both have a right to share the body? And if both souls have equal rights to the body, who gets to choose what they do? If one soul is romantically attracted to someone and the other is not, which gets to follow their heart?

As Eva and Addie struggle with these philosophical questions, they have to deal with the physical problem of being taken and incarcerated if their hybrid nature is discovered. And so in addition to the internal struggle, there is a lot of external action, adventure, and peril. Even a touch of romance, although that too becomes a delicate and challenging situation. It's a great mix, and I was completely sucked in.

Eva's narration is sparse but effective, and the storytelling flowed nicely. There's still some huge questions at the end of the book, but it's not a cliffhanger. Truthfully, I don't know if it's possible to fully and neatly answer all of the questions raised by this book, so in that way, it would actually work as a standalone (even though it's the first of a trilogy). Oh, and although it's being touted as a dystopian, it's really not. Nor is it really sci-fi. More of an alternate reality. It's one of those books that's kind of hard to define, which I think actually broadens its appeal.

Although I actually have no tangible complaints with this book, I'm not giving it an A rating. This seems weird, but basically, I felt like there was room for something more, either more connection with the characters or more insight into this strange world. It's not that I think the book did anything wrong, it's that I feel there's potential for better. Because I thought this book was really good, but it didn't completely knock me off my feet. I feel like it could, and I'm almost expecting that from the sequel. But while this one was highly enjoyable, it didn't quite crack that amorphous bubble that houses my all-time favorites. That said, I still highly recommend it.

Was this review helpful to you? 
When i first heard about this book, I was soooooo excited to read it. I was so intrigued by the premise and the cover was beautiful. But I learned my lesson again, never judge a book by its cover. Don't get me wrong, I loved the writing and I liked the uniqueness of it all, but it just wasn't for me.
It wasn't for me because it was just a bit too confusing. All the different names of people and all the back and forth random changing... 0_0 That's how I felt most of the time trying to decipher who was who and when they were them lol
Furthermre, i was confused as to why the hybrids posed that much of a threat. Like what makes them so scary because there's two different people inside them? They were trying to sell the fact that there was two different people inside them and that would make them crazy, but I don't think that. It would make things alot easier though. lol Two minds are always better than one in my opinion.
But although this is not one of my favorites, I did enjoy reading it. It was interesting to see the whole new exciting premise played out in my imagination and it was interesting to meet all the different characters.
Overall rating 
 
1.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
1.0
Writing Style 
 
1.0
Nikki H Reviewed by Nikki H October 01, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (99)

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

When i first heard about this book, I was soooooo excited to read it. I was so intrigued by the premise and the cover was beautiful. But I learned my lesson again, never judge a book by its cover. Don't get me wrong, I loved the writing and I liked the uniqueness of it all, but it just wasn't for me.
It wasn't for me because it was just a bit too confusing. All the different names of people and all the back and forth random changing... 0_0 That's how I felt most of the time trying to decipher who was who and when they were them lol
Furthermre, i was confused as to why the hybrids posed that much of a threat. Like what makes them so scary because there's two different people inside them? They were trying to sell the fact that there was two different people inside them and that would make them crazy, but I don't think that. It would make things alot easier though. lol Two minds are always better than one in my opinion.
But although this is not one of my favorites, I did enjoy reading it. It was interesting to see the whole new exciting premise played out in my imagination and it was interesting to meet all the different characters.

Was this review helpful to you? 
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?

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 novel.
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Blythe Harris Reviewed by Blythe Harris September 29, 2012
Last updated: September 29, 2012
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (8)

Unique and Powerful

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?

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 novel.

Was this review helpful to you? 
Often, as I'm reading dystopias, I am making a list of all of the elements borrowed from a prior dystopia. Having read so many, coming across a truly original idea is a bit startling and exceedingly impressive. Kat Zhang's book is like none I have read before. What's Left of Me is a story that questions what it means to be a human, to be a soul, and to be normal.

Author Lauren DeStefano is blurbed on the back of my ARC as saying, "A shockingly unique story that redefines what it means to be human." Usually, I ignore blurbs, because they often say so little, and they're often meaningless. This one I agree with wholeheartedly. That sentence captures the essence of What's Left of Me. This dystopia takes on philosophical questions and is one of the most thought-provoking books I've read this year.

In this world, a sort of alternate universe, two souls are born into every body. At the start of life, there are two people in each human frame. As time passes and the body grows, one of the personalities takes over, asserts dominance, and the other one dissipates, gone as though never there. By the age of ten, there should be just one soul where two used to reside; they should settle. Up until that point, the two souls trade off, so that body is sometimes the one and sometimes the other.

Some souls, though, do not settle. Neither soul goes away entirely. These people are called hybrids, and they are unacceptable. Hybrids are dangerous, unstable within themselves, thus unstable in society. The United States does not stand for this, because they are sick of the wars that hybridity brings, as evidenced by the war-torn, hybrid-filled, foreign nations.

Eva and Addie never settled. Eventually, Eva faded into the background and they pretended to be an I instead of a we, an us instead of a me. Eva can do nothing but watch and listen as her sister controls their body, can converse with no one but Addie, in their mental language. What does it mean to be a soul? To be a person? Is it Addie/Eva that's broken or society?

Told from Eva's perspective, What's Left of Me is daring in its storytelling. Never have I read a book written quite this way, just as I've never considered how different life would be with two people inhabiting the one body. Most of the story is told in first person plural, even though we're in Eva's 'mind' so to speak. This writing style never ceased being odd to me, but it always made sense.

Unlike a lot of dystopias, What's Left of Me does not have a ton of action, though there is some. The joy of this novel is philosophical and psychological. There isn't much romance at all, though there are some hints. Of course, how can you have a healthy relationship when your body doesn't belong just to you? Seriously, how crazy to think about is this?

Aside from Eva, and perhaps Ryan, I didn't get a great feel for most of the characters. Eva, our narrator, is so deep within her own thoughts that she doesn't necessarily have a great feel for anyone. I really didn't get a reading on Addie, except to wonder how she became the dominant personality. I suspect Eva probably should have been and may have faded back to save her Addie's soul, but that's all speculation.

For those of you that enjoy cerebral reads, What's Left of Me is not to be missed. I am truly in awe of Zhang's mind for coming up with such a creative, astounding idea.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

Incredibly Unique

Often, as I'm reading dystopias, I am making a list of all of the elements borrowed from a prior dystopia. Having read so many, coming across a truly original idea is a bit startling and exceedingly impressive. Kat Zhang's book is like none I have read before. What's Left of Me is a story that questions what it means to be a human, to be a soul, and to be normal.

Author Lauren DeStefano is blurbed on the back of my ARC as saying, "A shockingly unique story that redefines what it means to be human." Usually, I ignore blurbs, because they often say so little, and they're often meaningless. This one I agree with wholeheartedly. That sentence captures the essence of What's Left of Me. This dystopia takes on philosophical questions and is one of the most thought-provoking books I've read this year.

In this world, a sort of alternate universe, two souls are born into every body. At the start of life, there are two people in each human frame. As time passes and the body grows, one of the personalities takes over, asserts dominance, and the other one dissipates, gone as though never there. By the age of ten, there should be just one soul where two used to reside; they should settle. Up until that point, the two souls trade off, so that body is sometimes the one and sometimes the other.

Some souls, though, do not settle. Neither soul goes away entirely. These people are called hybrids, and they are unacceptable. Hybrids are dangerous, unstable within themselves, thus unstable in society. The United States does not stand for this, because they are sick of the wars that hybridity brings, as evidenced by the war-torn, hybrid-filled, foreign nations.

Eva and Addie never settled. Eventually, Eva faded into the background and they pretended to be an I instead of a we, an us instead of a me. Eva can do nothing but watch and listen as her sister controls their body, can converse with no one but Addie, in their mental language. What does it mean to be a soul? To be a person? Is it Addie/Eva that's broken or society?

Told from Eva's perspective, What's Left of Me is daring in its storytelling. Never have I read a book written quite this way, just as I've never considered how different life would be with two people inhabiting the one body. Most of the story is told in first person plural, even though we're in Eva's 'mind' so to speak. This writing style never ceased being odd to me, but it always made sense.

Unlike a lot of dystopias, What's Left of Me does not have a ton of action, though there is some. The joy of this novel is philosophical and psychological. There isn't much romance at all, though there are some hints. Of course, how can you have a healthy relationship when your body doesn't belong just to you? Seriously, how crazy to think about is this?

Aside from Eva, and perhaps Ryan, I didn't get a great feel for most of the characters. Eva, our narrator, is so deep within her own thoughts that she doesn't necessarily have a great feel for anyone. I really didn't get a reading on Addie, except to wonder how she became the dominant personality. I suspect Eva probably should have been and may have faded back to save her Addie's soul, but that's all speculation.

For those of you that enjoy cerebral reads, What's Left of Me is not to be missed. I am truly in awe of Zhang's mind for coming up with such a creative, astounding idea.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 
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You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or...
 
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