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.
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.
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.
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.
Okay, so, I know choosing a book by its cover isn't usually a great idea, but I saw this in the library and knew I wanted to read it. The cover is so futuristic and weird (in a good way), and the plot was really different from anything I've read before. I was so excited when I found out that it was a trilogy, and I recommend this book whenever anyone asks for good books to read.
What's Left of Me was basically about a society where every body starts out with two souls, and in most bodies, one soul dies off sometime in their early life. However, some bodies remain with two souls, like the main characters, Eva and Addie (who share a body). This is confusing to explain, but it seems really simple in the book. There is a lot of character development from basically all of the characters, too.
What's Left of Me is one of my favorite books, and I really hope Kat Zhang writes more books besides this trilogy.
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.
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.
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.