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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: September 18, 2012
Pages: 356
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss
Rating: 3.5 Stars


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.

In short: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang has an entirely intriguing and well executed concept, but is lacking in world building.
What's Left of Me presents a world in which two souls are born into one body and in which one of those souls - the recessive soul - should naturally fade away while the dominant one takes over. But this is not what happens in Eva and Addie's case. Despite many years of therapy, Eva - the recessive soul - remains, trapped in a body she has no control over. Kat Zhang has created a fully realized, entirely fascinating concept with What's Left of Me and not only that - it's also executed exceptionally well. It is so crucial in a story like this to be able to distinguish between the two different characters without creating any confusion, and Zhang manages this impressively, creating two separate, independent voices within one body.

I did feel as though the world building was lacking, however. I was left with major questions surrounding how this hybrid concept works and why the government sees hybrids as bad. After a strong start, the second half of What's Left of Me is spent trying to escape an ominous and mysterious government-run hospital that claims they want to cure Eva and Addie - standard dystopian fare. I feel like this is the point where the plot starts to wane and this is probably due to the lack of world building mentioned. It was difficult to become invested in a plot in which so few explanations are given for why the government has this vendetta against hybrids and why the reader should care.

Overall, What's Left of Me has a incredibly intriguing and well executed concept that made it stand out among a sea of indistinguishable dystopian reads. But the second half of the novel was less inventive and less absorbing due to the lack of world building. I still very much plan on continuing on with the series, however, if only to learn more about the hybrid concept. I need answers!

Other Reviews:
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Miss Page-Turner's

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32 comments :

  1. Sounds pretty good. Awesome review. I love how honest you are.

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  2. This book looks great! The only book I've read that really focuses on souls inhabiting a body (aside from, you know, other living people) is The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I'm definitely interested enough to try this one out! This one has gotten great reviews.

    Thanks for sharing, Aylee!

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    1. Yeah, it definitely reminded me of The Host right from the get go. And I actually loved The Host so I was really excited going into it.

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  3. This sounds interesting! I would like to give this one a try. Hopefully you'll get the answers you need in the sequel.

    Sara @ Just Another Story

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    1. I hope so, too. Hope you enjoy it, Sara!

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  4. It does sound like a very interesting concept but I can see how the lack of world building could turn this into a generic dystopian. Though maybe things will be explained in further books?

    Anyway, I'm glad you liked the book over all.

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    1. I would expect things to be explained in the sequels... I just wish we got a bit more answers in this first book, too. I'll be upset if we never get any good answers, of course.

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  5. I distinctly remember reading a review of this book some time back, but I forgot what this was about lol. Aylee, the concept of this is really intriguing and so very dystopian. But aww, so sorry that you didn't like the second half. I think the world-building is one of the most important aspect of a novel, most especially dystopians. I may have to read more reviews before deciding whether to read this or not.

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    1. Yeah, I was bummed that I didn't enjoy the second half as much because I thought it had a great thing going for it. I absolutely agree: world building is the most important aspect to get right in dystopians. So that was disappointing. But I do still recommend it!

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  6. oh no, I prefer for the first half of the book to be OK and THEN the second half is wow for me, not the other way around. I really need world building when it comes to dystopian novels because I feel that is a very important part of dystopian books.

    Great review though, I REALLY want to pick this book up!

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    1. Oh yes, that's ideal. And I'm with you: excellent world building is a MUST in dystopians. I do still recommend it though and I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. Thanks for the great and honest review Aylee :). I actually don't think I'll read this book : I like the whole concept of two souls in one body .. but I've read a lot of mixed reviews on the book.

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    1. I can understand. I'm invested in the story now though so I'll be continuing on with it.

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  8. I'm with you on this one. I really liked the concept, but I can't say that it was executed very well. I had way too many questions that led to me not being able to connect with the desperation of the story. Great review, Aylee!

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    1. Yeah, it's hard to feel desperation and danger in a story when you're not given any reason to believe it to be so. That was frustrating.

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  9. yeah the world building is a giant blank for me but the humanity aspect of this book is well done! it wasn't QUITE what i was expecting but i did enjoy it overall. lovely review! <3

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    1. I can't say it was exactly what I was expecting either, but I did enjoy it for the most part at least! Kat Zhang handled the characters very well.

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  10. I agree with you on the world. I liked the novel when Addie and Eva were at home. When it gets to the hospital, it was interesting, but I started to want something more -- especially more action. I liked the two sisters and became invested them. I didn't mind not knowing how the hybrid concept worked, but I am curious to know why the government is against it. Hopefully, book 2 will explain more! Great review.

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    1. Yeah, I definitely felt the lack of action, as well. But I really appreciated the time that was taken to set up the characters of the two sisters and the complexities in their relationship. That was really well done. I'm looking forward to getting more answers in the future!

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  11. I was really disappointed with What's Left of Me. It is such a great concept, but it was not executed that well. The first half was great but as soon as the action started, I felt that the story started to make little sense and was rushed. I am looking forward to reading subsequent novels, though. Great review!

    s @ Oh! Paper Pages

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    1. Yeah, the novel had such a great thing going for it in the first half of the novel. It was really the hospital stuff that distanced me from the story. What a shame. But I do still want to read the sequel though!

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  12. I've been curious about this book ever since I read the blog. I'm glad it was a decent read for you. I'm keeping it on my tbr list - hoping it comes out at the digital library soon. I think the concept is attractive. Great review!

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    1. Cool, I hope you love it! The concept really did make the story for me.

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  13. The concept of this book sounds really interesting, but you're not the first reviewer I've read to be annoyed by a lack of answers.

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    1. Hopefully, the author and publisher will keep that in mind with the sequel and give us lots of answers then!

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  14. Aylee, the statement your "in short" statement pretty much covered what I've heard about this one from other reviews.

    I was really excited about reading this one when I first heard about it but the lack of worldbuilding has me doubting whether I'll end up liking it. I guess I'll check it out eventually but for now, I have lots of other options :)

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    1. My opinion does seem to be in the majority. I know you don't love dystopians, but I think the concept has a lot of merit. I wouldn't make it a priority or anything though.

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  15. Ugh I hate when I have too many questions after I'm finished reading. It makes me want to sent a detailed email to the author demanding explanations. Glad to hear the plot and characters were good though. I'm definitely looking forward to this book

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    1. Heh, that's a good idea! She probably wouldn't give me any though. I hope you enjoy reading this one!

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  16. Too bad about the lack of world building...it sounds interesting, though. I'll definitely check this out of my library, if they get it.

    Great honest review!

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    1. Cool, I hope you enjoy it! It definitely was fascinating, I thought.

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