Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

  • Release Date: September 18th 2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Genre: Alternate Universe
  • Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: 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

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang has to be one of the most hotly anticipated YA novels of 2012. This book has been on Books and Sensibility’s radar since we featured Zhang in our 25 Under 25 feature and the young author does not disappoint with her debut YA novel.

In the world of What’s Left of Me, everyone is born with two souls and in early childhood the dominate soul takes over and the recessive one fades away. It’s completely natural, normal and expected. Only, in the case of Eva and Addie, Eva is a recessive soul that never settles. She refuses to fade away and when doctors declare only Addie to be left, Eva's exostence becomes a secret only Addie know. Being a
hybrid, having two souls is illegal and considered dangerous so the sisters work together to keep their closely guarded secret. But, when Addie meets Halley, the new girl in school the girls learn that they are not the only hiding hybrids, but this knowledge may cost them everything.

Just the amazing concept and start of this novel is filled with so much nightmare fuel for me. Because Eva is the recessive soul she has no control over the body she’s been “Reduced to smoke, stripped of everything but a voice only Addie could hear”. I love how Eva describes herself as a  “ghost haunting Addie’s life.”

The closeness of the sisters is so tangible and strong in the novel. As they begin to break away from the world they know, it is interesting to see the rifts come up between the girls. Eva begins to feel guilty for not letting go and making them hybrid, while Addie begins to feel jealous when Eve learns  to control their body without her being mentally present.  And what makes this all so complicated is they have no real way of getting away from each other.

The only weakness of this novel is the society and world building. Neither one is fleshed out enough to make the world they live in feel very real. For instance, the medication they use for Eva to control the body is somewhat of an Applied Phlebotinum. If no one is a hybrid and being a hybrid means being shipped away, why would this kind of drug be around. And what would be the point of it ?

I’m curious to see how Zhang expands the concept and world of What's Left Of Me in other novels.

In the same vein of Unwind and Uglies, What’s Left of Me is about surviving and finding your voice in a society that doesn’t want you to exist.

Sidenote: I love the title of this book, but did Harper Collins realize it's also the name of a Nick Lachey song and single ?



  1. Running around with two different people and personalities inside you has to be hard and probably confusing. The concept for this one is kind of different. I wonder how the girls struggle through their situation and if they are able to come to terms with each other.

  2. SP @ Oh! Paper PagesSeptember 23, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Ha! I didn't realize the title is the same as Nick Lachey's song. I was also disappointed with the world building. I couldn't connect to the story because i was a little confused with the vague descriptions. I am looking forward to reading how the story develops, though. Great review! I really like your blog header, by the way. It's so lovely.
    s @ Oh! Paper Pages

  3. This. Book. Sounds. Super. AWESOME. I have an ARC of it that I really should read soon, but I haven't found time for it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Kat! Lovely review. In fact, because of it, I hope I can read it very soon.

  4. It reminded me a lot of those Siamese twins on TLC

  5. I noticed the Nick Lachey thing when I googled for the book cover, lol ! Thanks for the compliment Jess designed it !

  6. You totally should read it. Can't wait to see your thoughts !

  7. I read this recently and absolutely loved it! I definitely wish we learned more about the world and history, but I just know Kat will bring it in her next book.

  8. 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.
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