“What’s Left of Me” by Kat Zhang

“What’s Left of Me” by Kat Zhang is a YA dystopian novel set in a world where people are born with two souls.  By the time that most kids turn five, one of the souls fades away and dies off, leaving the dominant soul in control of the body.

Eva and Addy were two such souls sharing one body, but Eva never left.  She still inhabits Addie’s body, but she can’t control it or even speak to anyone except Addie.  The two of them keep it a secret, because the government takes away hybrids, blaming them for any instabilities within their society.  One day at school, Addie makes a new friend who is another hybrid like herself, and she thinks that she knows of a way to help Eva find her voice.  It may be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to Eva, but it means taking a risk that could threaten everything they’ve ever known.

As a whole, I was quite impressed by “What’s Left of Me.”  Zhang’s writing is articulate, and I loved the way that she handled the romance aspect of the story.  It’s barely more than a crush, and the focus isn’t on Eva/Addie’s love life, but rather on more pressing problems, such as protecting their friends and not getting themselves killed in the process.  And you know what?  That’s exactly where the focus should be.  This isn’t the kind of book where the seriousness of the story is diluted by fluff.  Eva/Addie are facing very real threats in a cruel world, and we get to see that very clearly.  That is one of the biggest hallmarks of a well executed dystopian story.

“What’s Left of Me” is set in an alternate version of the 20th Century United States.  In other countries, being a hybrid is the norm, but government propaganda treats all other countries as uncivilized wastelands.  True peace can only exist in a world without hybrids, because a society cannot live in peace if its citizens are at war with themselves and their own natures.

One minor criticism that I had is that the world could be a bit more developed; right now, we have no idea why the government cares how many souls are found in one body, or why they consider hybrids to be a threat (aside from the view purported in propaganda).  I’m willing to forgive this for now because I foresee a structure similar to the Hunger Games trilogy.  In this book, we focus primarily on Eva/Addie’s personal struggles, and then in the later books we’ll likely branch out and see more of the world and of the resistance movement that we are introduced to at the end of this volume.

I read this book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down and was fully invested in Eva/Addie’s story.  The concept of two souls sharing one body is a clever idea, and the implications of it intrigued me.  Props to Kat Zhang for creating such a remarkable book.


FTC Disclaimer:  I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Fiction, Sci Fi, YA | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on ““What’s Left of Me” by Kat Zhang

  1. Pingback: September 2012: A Month in Review | Books Without Any Pictures

  2. Though I’m not sure I’d want to read this one (even with your praise, I have to admit that I’m a little frustrated with the young-adult dystopian subgenre right now…), that the cover is certainly sufficiently eerie and creepy. Props to the publishers for completely boggling my mind.

    • I will say that the cover was what made me curious about the book to begin with. It’s creepy, but entirely fitting.

      I’m trying to be more open-minded about YA lately. I had read a few that had turned me off from the genre for a long time, but then realized that I was only depriving myself of some great books by assuming that all YA was filled with love triangles and angst. I still generally prefer adult fiction, but I dabble with the occasional YA when it looks interesting or I’m looking for something different.

      • I’m not against young adult fiction by any means, I’m more concerned with a lot of bad fad knock-offs that make their way into the ranks of the respectable despite bland characters, bad world building, and gross oversimplifications. I’ve encountered enough books that didn’t have enough of their own personality in the past few years to make me very, very skeptical every time someone begins to sing the praises of the “new” young adult dystopia. I’ve been hurt before!

  3. Sounds interesting and I do like both YA and dystopian so I’ll keep an open mind on this one. Especially as you read it in one sitting – must have been fairly compelling.
    Lynn 😀

    • I even ended up procrastinating on dinner that night, lol. I might have a bit of a reading problem. 😛

  4. I’m trying to decide if I would like this. I’m happy that there isn’t any fluff, but I will admit there are days when I want fluff. I haven’t read too many dystopian novels and I have been meaning to read more YA novels. I’ll keep it in mind. I hope school is going well!

    • Thanks! Classes started last week and they seem interesting so far. I’m trying not to get too bogged down this semester, even though I know it’ll happen anyway.

      I thought the world in “What’s Left of Me” was interesting; there are a lot of implications that come with two souls living in the same body. I enjoyed the book a lot. It definitely wasn’t light-hearted, but I read a lot of books that are, so it was a nice change.

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