Eva and Addie were born into the same body – two souls linked together, sharing everything. Addie was the dominant soul; Eva was supposed to fade away. Except she never did. Only Addie knows her sister still lingers in their body, unable to move or speak. Then they meet someone who can change everything for Eva. But is the risk too great? If they are caught, Eva may be ripped away from Addie forever.
What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang is one of those books where you’re not quite sure what to expect and then are completely mesmerized by the depth of detail and emotion present. I was hooked from the beginning by this unique novel, and think you will be too.
Eva and Addie are two souls sharing the same body. Everyone starts this one, but then one soul “settles” and the dominant soul is all that’s left – one soul, one body. But Eva and Addie don’t settle on time, and in fact never quite manage it. Although Addie is dominant and Eva cannot move or speak, Eva’s sill present sharing life with Addie. Though not a true hybrid since Eva cannot come forward and control their body, they are still in danger if anyone finds out as hybrids are feared and quickly taken away when discovered. I found this premise of hybrids and settled souls to be completely intriguing. Though I have to wonder at the hints of history we’re given throughout the book (wars and border closings to hybrids and foreigners), and whether hybrids were once the norm. I also can’t help but wonder if the world in What’s Left of Me is a completely new history for the planet, or whether at some point dual souls were a new occurrence.
The dynamics between Eva and Addie are wonderful, as are those between Hally and Lissa and Ryan and Devon, a brother and sister (brothers and sisters?) who never settled and who try to help Eva become more present in her own body. Rather than become jealous or angry at the sister/brother soul the two souls sharing one body work together and get along well. That’s not to say there are never any moments of anger, jealousy or petty upsets but what siblings don’t fight? The relationships between two souls are well realized and very natural. I enjoyed seeing the bit of romance blossom between Ryan and Eva and the questions it brings up for Devon and Addie. The two souls are as unique as if they each had their own body – how would it feel to have your body kissing someone you didn’t have romantic feelings for? It’s an interesting dilemma and I hope it’s explored more in the sequels. This first book was more about establishing the world and characters, and the major action for the series. After Addie/Eva, Devon/Ryan and Hally/Lissa are taken to a facility to deal with hybrids, the tension skyrockets and the actions begins in earnest.
Eva and Addie compliment each other so well, and you really see that in the facility. Eva is completely nurturing and cares for the other children though they’ve just met, while Addie – though she cares as well – is a bit more practical and tries to be the voice of reason. But she doesn’t hinder Eva when Eva is trying to save others or themselves. Eva will also often stop and listen to Addie and they work together for their benefit. The doctors and board members are shadowy, creepy figures (though there is of course the one that seems to have a different agenda, and you aren’t sure whether they can be trusted or not) and the more information on the intention behind the facility comes to light, the more Eva and Addie’s world is terrifying. The questions dealt with about souls, surgery and separation are mind-boggling in a good way, and I’m so curious to see where this series goes.
What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang is an intense debut. With masterful characterization, Kat Zhang is developing a world where the question of what a soul is and how does it interact with the body could lead to terrifying, incredible things for Eva, Addie and their world. While the beginning of the book is a bit slower as it sets up the premise for the novel and provides necessary background information, the action does pick up in the last two thirds of the book with some intense moments and heartbreaking revelations. Definitely a solid, engaging story that will have you wanting to cry, cheer and see the hope in amongst moments that seem hopeless.
ARC picked up at Book Expo America from HarperCollins. Thank you!