26 September 2012
REVIEW: WHAT'S LEFT OF ME
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
UK Release date: 27th September 2012
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
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.
As a dystopian, I loved that Zhang's concept of being born with a dual soul was completely original, unique, and very thought provoking. In What's Left of Me, Eva lives in the Americas where being a Hybrid with two souls is forbidden, taboo and considered a huge threat to society. My mind couldn't help but ponder the scientific implications of this idea: what might the evolutionary benefit be of having two souls? Could I have been born with two souls, but never have realised? Why did one soul just disappear? And what must it be like to share one life and one body with someone so close to you, that isn't you? Eva and Addie's relationship was like normal sisters, but so much more intense because they had to cope with situations that no-one would normally have to do with someone else in such close proximity. I can't imagine what it would be like to have someone else directing me body to do things I wasn't exactly comfortable doing. This difference in desire, motivation and needs often lead to big emotional dilemmas and experiences between the pair which kept the story fresh and gave lots of different viewpoints to consider.
With the story written from Eva's perspective, it gave a very unusual slant to the story. This is because whilst being a first person narrative, Eva simultaneously used a completely different narrative mode by using 'we' and 'ours' to describe what her and Addie were both doing together. It took a little getting used to, but it instantly added a unique element to the story.
Eva's fight to be more than a recessive soul that just disappears was completely compelling. Eva was so full of life, despite having no body of her own or control of her shared one, that it seemed wrong and cruel to think she could be ripped out or made to disappear. Both her and Addie had their strengths, and with Eva as the narrative voice, she didn't seem like the recessive one at all. I did make me think though about what makes us individuals and real people: do we need a body or is a soul enough to allow us to live and function happily in the world? What makes someone dominant and is dominance always best?
In terms of the plot, I expected a little more to happen setting wise. Don't get me wrong, I found the plot really thrilling and often it was fast paced and full of suspense. But I did want a little more action and adventure - which I think we will probably get in the next book.
One of the interesting aspects to the plot was the underlying romance between Eva and Ryan, Devon's recessive soul. I found it really intriguing that Addie didn't fancy Devon or Ryan, but Eva liked Ryan. I can see why, as he showed her a lot of tenderness. I was however a little dubious as to why exactly Ryan liked Eva, as they didn't exactly spend much time together when both of them were in control and able to talk or do things together. For Addie however, it must have been a very strange situation to be in.
What's Left of Me is a gripping and thought provoking insight into one girl's struggle to stay alive in a society that controls even your soul.