What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Summary: Addie and Eva were born into one body, just like everyone else. Unlike the rest of the population, they continued to coexist far past the age at which they should have “settled”—a process involving one soul taking over and the other fading into nonexistence. Eva pretends not to exist while Addie takes control of their body, but eventually they are caught. Hybrids—people who still haven’t settled—are sent to special clinics to be fixed. Unfortunately, what goes on behind closed doors at these clinics is worse than Addie and Eva could ever have imagined.
My thoughts: It’s not very often that we find a character-driven dystopian novel, but here’s Kat Zhang, raising the bar. What’s Left of Me has a fast-paced, exciting plot, sure; but its focus is solidly on one character. Or rather, two characters with one body. It’s strange to read about two people who will never experience life without the other, but Zhang helps us understand. In fact, she makes us feel so close to Addie and Eva that we are just as horrified as they are at the prospect of their separation. I love when authors can take an out-of-this-world concept and give it real perspective—develop it so fully that we relate. That’s exactly what Kat Zhang has done with What’s Left of Me: thanks to her expert writing, Eva’s strange world doesn’t seem so strange after a while.
Like I mentioned, What’s Left of Me is a dystopian book, and therefore it contains some familiar elements: a scary government facility, children who want to escape said government facility, and a general sense of us-against-the-world. This isn’t to say that What’s Left of Me falls into any tropes; it merely uses them to frame a bigger picture. This book is anything but typical, but frequent readers of dystopia will notice common threads. One thing that may come as a surprise, though, is a distinct lack of focus on boys as love interests. Most YA these days inevitably falls into the “romance” category somehow, but Kat Zhang chooses to refrain, instead representing male characters as simply that: just people. I enjoyed this choice because at its core, What’s Left of Me is about self, and a lack of romance allowed the characters to focus on themselves (which subsequently leads to character development).
Sci-fi/dystopia fans, prepare to be hit with waves of emotions while reading What’s Left of Me. It’s a fantastic story that will hook you from page one: both its concept and its characters will hold your interest.
For those who like: emotional reads, introspection, creepy government testing
Find the author at KatZhangWriter.com.
Comment question: Romance as the focus of a dystopian novel – yay or nay?