Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review of What's Left Of Me by Kat Zhang

by: Sarah
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 343 pages
Series: Hybrid Chronicles #1
Source: ARC provided via Netgalley

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 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.

Here's a funny story: I actually requested this on Netgalley by accident. Yeah. But I figured oh well I probably won't get approved for this anyway and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Then, weeks later, imagine my surprise when I received an email saying I'd been approved. Clearly this is an act of a higher power and I was meant to read this book. (I said to myself.) So I dropped everything and dove in.

So. Two things,first off:

1. From me to this book: it's not you, it's me. No really. I'm not just saying that. No. No, no there's no one else. Nothing like that. Please don't cry. I hope we can still be friends. P.S. I want my pink shirt back. 

2. This is one of those books that you have to really suspend your disbelief for from the get-go. I am very bad at doing this. Well actually I guess I should say I am very unpredictably good at this. Sometimes a book can start out with the most nonsensical shit and I'm just like yes this is happening I accept this reality and then I breathe softly onto my monocle and rub it against my smoking jacket before popping it back into place. And sometimes I just go eeeehhhhhwhatno. That's what happened with this book, unfortunately. Early on in reading I kept impatiently waiting for a big breakdown of what this having two souls/hybrid thing was all about...I guess you're just supposed to be like okay this is a thing. It's not really a fault but I just was expecting something different, so let's cross that one off as my bad.

Now onto things that were your bad, book. In the same vein as my previous gripe, there's a big lack of explanation going on in this book; the world building is virtually non-existent. I'm still confused as to why the war that's periodically referred to even happened (it's glossed over a few times but never fully explained) , why hybrids are seen as this big bad threat to society (again, kind of touched on but nowhere near as in depth as it should have been), and what time period is this even taking place in? This is another fault of mine but I went into this book expecting a dystopian future, but I remember Eva mentioning during the wars that there was no TV News and all the battles were depicted through paintings, which leads me to believe it's a dystopian present. I think? Maybe I just had my brain turned off when I read this book but I was lost on all that. I'm usually not someone who needs heaps of backstory to enjoy a book but in this case it was a constant distraction. Particularly during scenes where Addie and Eva are starting to rage against the machine..there was a line that went something like "we're going against everything we've been taught about settling (the term for the submissive soul to fade into oblivion)" and it wasn't nearly as powerful as it could have been because I had no idea what they'd been taught about settling except that it was good and not settling was double plus ungood. I also find it very very hard to believe that a parent would just so willingly accept one of their children disappearing? I'm not really an expert on the matter but this isn't like The Giver where emotion doesn't exist and shit love is a normal thing in this society so I just don't see how loving parents would be like "well bye less extroverted child sorry you didn't make the cut see ya never!"

This book didn't really get going until last 90 or so pages, but the end was a pretty good set up to the next book in this series. I had pretty much convinced myself I didn't have any interest in continuing on but now I'm not so sure. But most importantly, as I said earlier, there's really nothing horribly wrong with this book. In my opinion it's a unique, interesting, and poignant novel. The sibling relationships being the focus while the "romance" being on the backburner was definitely refreshing in a YA novel like this. This book is definitely worth a read. It just didn't really hit the mark with me but it's got a very Never Let Me Go Jr. feel to it and I think young people who maybe couldn't quite grasp the depth or hang with the intensity of a book like NLMG could really sink they're little baby teeth into something like this. Not to say any adult who enjoyed this have baby teeth, I'm sure your teeth are very mature for their age.

PS: Looking through reviews I've seen several people say they had a hard time concentrating while reading this and found themselves putting it down a lot or not being able to really get into it. I had this problem too, which might be a contributing factor on why I wasn't over the moon with it. Hmm!

2.75 cups of out 5!

Kaede my sweet princess, I HAD to get on board with this coffee cup idea of yours because it's adorable. Hope you don't mind! You know what they say, imitation is the greatest form of stealing :P


  1. Good review! Parts of it made me snort out my tea while I was reading haha. I just finished What's Left of Me myself and while I liked it quite a lot I agree with many things you said. At the end of the book I felt like we were only given a teaser of the hybrids world and I really wished there was a more detailed backstory...not an info dump but...more. The romance taking a backseat is definitely something I enjoyed! I am SO tired of heroines going all "he loves me, loves me not" during a *insert serious situation*.

    1. Thank you! Always glad to entertain *bows*. I agree with you, the lack of a cookie cutter forbidden romance was great and I totally appreciate this novel for what it's bringing to the table but personally I just needed a bit more of...something! It's a tricky one to put my finger on.

  2. really good review. I get what you mean about the backstory and how sometimes its an important part for the believability of the story and basically understanding the characters and plot better. I hope I like it a bit better than you!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. It's definitely worth checking out. This one was just okay for me but I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be one of those books where the sequel comes out of nowhere and amazes me and I'll have to eat my words, as I so often do. :P

  3. Oh my darling Sarah, while you know how much I love you and could never find it in myself to mind if you use my completely awesome idea; I do believe the saying goes, "Imitation is tue sincerest form of flattery."

    Oh and, I know I'm a genius with amazing ideas. No need to thank me.

    I love how you made the remaining cups grey, love. Great idea too! ;D