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.

 

********

I read What’s Left of Me, book one in the Hybrid Chronicles, by Kat Zhang, one and a half times.  Why the half?  Well, I must admit, the narrative structure of Kat debut book took a bit to settle into – funny, considering one of the main points of her book is about settling (though in a very different context.)  It’s really the only problem I had with the story.  The characters were well-drawn and fascinating, especially the main heroines, Eva and Addie, which I’ll talk about in a moment.  The pacing of the book was stellar.  It was a quick read.  And the plot twists were pretty awesome too.  There were quite a few moments that I just didn’t see coming.

But let me address that issue of settling into the story.  Don’t get me wrong.  What’s Left of Me is a haunting, creative tale of identity and science, truth and loyalty, and knowing who you are whether you’re standing on your own or (quite literally in this case) surrounded by someone who loves you.  It’s a fascinating premise but Kat doesn’t just leave it at that.  No no, she pushes the boundaries and presents this story in a brave narrative structure, where the two characters aren’t assigned chapters with specific headings or different text fonts.  Instead, the narrative throughout is actually from the point of view of Eva, the soul who was supposed to have faded away – the one that is can think but can’t move, worry but can’t act, and love but can’t ever express it.  We see the world with Addie’s eyes, but we understand it through Eva’s mind.

I believe the word here is Ripe.  This narrative structure infuses this story and makes it ripe with conflict, drama and all the juicy moral and ethical questions awesome novels are made of. 🙂

Anyway, suffice to say, as a fellow writer, I’m blown away by Kat’s creativity and courage.  As a reader…well, like I said, it took me a minute to fall into the rhythm of the story.  But man, I am so glad that I stuck with this tale because the payoff is worth it!

First, you have great characters.  Besides Addie and Eva, there’s Devon and Hally and Lyle and many more fully realized, sympathetic, and best of all, surprising personalities.  Second, the pacing of this book was great.  It flew, though there were still scenes of poignant, heartbreaking moments.  And third, there are plot twists galore.  For writers who want a master class in those “didn’t see that coming” moments, read this.  For readers who want a roller coaster ride, read this.  Finally, the world building is pretty cool too.  It wasn’t totally explained, but this is the first book in a series and I fully expect to learn more in the sequel.

All in all, what’s left of me after reading Kat’s debut?  A hunger for the second book!