Author: Kat Zhang
Review by: Sarah
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.
Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.
Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.
Wow! It's always a crazy feeling when the second book in a series is so much better than the first. Usually, for me, it tends to be the other way around. Second Book Syndrome is a killer. But when I finished What's Left of Me, I kind of figured I'd end up enjoying the sequel more so than I did the first. I just didn't expect it to be this substantial of a difference!
Things that bothered me about What's Left of Me were quickly forgotten almost as soon as I started Once We Were. Little things about the world building that irked me were explained in this book in a way that was like, oh...well that makes so much more sense now...why couldn't that have been in the first one? When reading the first book, I found myself putting it down constantly. It seemed to drag on forever and I often felt like I was forcing myself to get through it. I read Once We Were entirely in one sitting, I literally think I only put it down once. The pacing was so much quicker, the plot more engaging, I just completely fell into the story in a way I hadn't been able to until close to the end of the first book. The intensity of the relationship between Addie and Eva really propels the story, and the development leap their characters take in this story is truly heart wrenching.I care about everything else because I care about both of them. But there were many characters I found infinitely interesting in this book, and some of the quotes were nothing short of stunning. I love a book with really quotable moments where you can just feel the impact of the words hitting you like a brick.
As I said in my review for the first book, I also find it very refreshing that the romance is not the main focus of this story. There's definitely more of it in this book, but it's presented in such a way that just adds to what the characters are going through rather than taking away from it. With so many characters in such a complex situation, I feel like it'd be quite difficult to write the romance aspect of this novel. So hats off to the author for doing it so seamlessly.
I'm very excited for the next book, now. Zhang has set up a complex, dynamic cast of characters and and smacked them all down at an incredibly precipitous point. I need to know what's going to happen to everyone and what's going to become of this strange and frightening world.