What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
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 test, the neighbours 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 other. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
I will start out by saying that I was super excited to get my hands on this book! I heard great things about it and the synopsis sounded so intriguing and unique that I thought for sure it was going to be on my favourites list. However, I found that it fell short of my expectations. It’s not that it was a bad book, it was okay. But, due to my excitement and the hype surrounding it, I felt very disappointed by it.
The concept of two souls being born into one body is a unique and intriguing concept. But, I found that it lacked a proper explanation for why each person was born with two souls. I understand that we are dealing with a story from the future and that things would be different. But, I can’t see any reason why this new development would be happening all of a sudden. This really bothered me and took away from the actual story, because I kept asking myself, so, why is everyone born with two souls? When did this start happening? And what caused it to begin happening in the first place?
In dystopian novels, world-building is a very important element to have. I thought that this aspect was not complete in What’s Left of Me. In a lot of ways, this world seems very much like the world we live in now. The only main difference is that two souls are born into one body. Oh, and apparently racism is back full swing, but there is no real evidence of this fact other than Eva telling us that it exists. There was one other aspect that was different from our current world: the lack of computers in households. At one point Eva is shocked to see that Devon/Ryan have a computer in their home. This one really bothers me. How can computers be basically obsolete in households, but all other technology seems to still be intact, if not actually further along. They have new drugs and medical machinery, airplanes and vehicles, etc. These changes don’t really make sense to me and they are not given any explanation. This really bothers me. If there is a change from the current world, I need to know reasons…or at least speculative reasoning for why these things are the way they are…especially when two of these aspects are essentially going back in time. In my opinion, there is no reason that makes sense to me as to why these changes have taken place. Especially when everything else is essentially the same.
I also found that the characters fell short in explanations as well. I felt that most of the characters weren’t developed enough for my liking. In fact, the only character that I was really able to connect with and know a lot about was Eva, the narrator. Even Eva’s twin soul, Addie, wasn’t fully developed, in my opinion. All of the characters were likeable, however. And I did connect strongly with Eva. I sympathized with her and her situation. She is trapped inside her own body, but doesn’t have the ability to move or talk. She is basically paralysed and lives through Addie, who is in control of their body. I found Eva’s story interesting to read about. However, I did feel that the reader doesn’t get to see enough of Eva learning how to talk and move again. She just tells the reader about what happened after the fact, instead of actually taking us on her journey.
Zhang’s writing style was very good. She has a beautiful way of writing. While I thought that the writing quality was very well done, I don’t feel that it had strong enough story-telling abilities. I was not completely captivated by this book. While it was interesting to read and kept my attention while I was reading, it did not cause me to desperately want to read it like so many other great books do.
Having said all that, I think that this book is a worthy read, as the story does have a very unique and creative premise. Just don’t go getting your hopes up like I did. If I didn’t have my expectations set so high, I may have enjoyed it more than I did! I do intend on reading the second book in the series once it comes out, but I am not going crazy right now without it. I would like to see what happens next, but at the same time, I don’t absolutely HAVE to find out…at least not right away.