Thursday, 22 November 2012

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

  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.

What’s Left of Me is the most thoughtful and thought provoking dystopian novel I have read for quite a while.  The concept is an interesting one that provides a new take on the teen dystopian genre.  It is a book that takes itself seriously, there are very few light hearted moments to be found here, but it works because the book is full of powerful messages that directly compare to the world we live in today.  It touches on discrimination, immigration, racism and disability and it does so sensibly and effectively.

I am a pretty big fan of the writing in this book as well.  It must have been hard to write a book where mostly all your characters are two people with different names and different personalities.  This book could have been confusing and hard to understand but it wasn’t, there was not one moment where I found this book confusing.  Not only is it clear and concise it is also written with a lot of emotion.  The storyline itself is an emotional one but it is gentleness of Zhang’s writing that really brings all that emotion to the page.

The characters are brilliant.  The main focus is one Eva and Addie who are two souls in one body.  The love they have or each other is beautiful but things are not always easy for them.  There is conflict and drama, they both want different things and react to situations differently.  It could have so easily gone wrong but Zhang got it just right and the relationship between Addie and Eva is the best part of the book.

Yet, like so many other things this book is not perfect.  There is not much action or many fast paced scenes, and there were moments that were a little dull.  There are the typical YA parent issues, where the parents either: don’t care, don’t listen or blatantly loves/cares for the characters siblings more than them.  This is a massive pet peeve of mine and I feel like every time I pick up a YA book I am faced with unfit parents. 

I would have also liked a little more information; facts are plonked on the page without explanation.  I ended this book not really knowing why people had two souls, why the world was ‘dystopian’ and what caused a civil war and how the rest of the world fit into all this.

My main issue is something I can’t quite explain.  I liked the storyline, the characters and writing but something was missing.  I found it a little sterile like I was watching from afar instead of being involved. 

All that being said the pro’s outweighed the cons and this book impressed me quite a bit.  It was touching, smart and different.  I recommend it lightly.

4 stars

Published September 18th 2012 by HarperCollins.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips


  1. It is interesting how each person has two souls, I'm liking this concept, and you said the writing was good, so I assume it didn't get confusing. I'm really looking forward to read this one. Thanks!

    1. I am glad you are looking forward to it, it is well worth a read.

  2. wow, glad you enjoyed it so much! I love the plot and the two minds in one body thing, it sounds amazing. great review

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  3. Great review, Kate! I have this one sitting on my kindle so will have to bump it up the list :) I know what you mean, can't one book have a nice, normal parent?!

    1. It really is a pet peeve of mine. I feels as though 80% of YA books have crap parents. lol

  4. Sounds like this storyline has some progression to make with world-building elements and the parents which annoy me too. It does seem rare to find a YA book with parents that actually care...

    Still, sounds like a good book and one which has some really good elements to it!

    Lovely review.


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