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What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (2012)
What’s Left of Me (2012)
by Kat Zhang
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Buy a copy via Amazon.
Synopsis from Goodreads.

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 isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, 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.

My Thoughts:
What’s Left of Me is one of the most creative YA dystopians I’ve read–ever. I can usually tell how much I’ll like a book after reading its first chapter–What’s Left of Me was one the few times where I was wrong. The book started out strong, I felt for Eva (the protagonist) and I wanted to know her. She’s such a unique character because she is only a consciousness that resides in a body she does not control–her entire life is a movie. I was interested in analyzing her complex bond with Addie (her “sister” that shares her body.) But as the story went on, the pace dragged and I grew tired of the characters and even hated Eva at times for being selfish.

Is This Book Trolling Me? or is it just slow paced?
One of the biggest frustration is inaction. Whenever I expect something to happen, I am rewarded with the exact opposite: nothing happening. For example, when Addie/Eva is warned by a friend to run away before the authorities catch them. Here is the part where I expect the girls to panic, pack, and run. But instead they go on with their lives like sitting ducks until the authorities come for them. For a good eighty percent of the book I kept thinking, “Are they going to run away now? no…then how about NOW!…nope?…now?…AH HA! I SEE AN OPPORTUNITY! IT MUST BE NOW!…or not.” On one hand, nothing went as I expected. And not in a good way either.

Eva, the protagonist who was supposed to disappear:
Eva had my heart in the first chapters. I felt sorry for her. She has no body to control and nobody acknowledges her existence anymore. She will never experience first love, fated to watch her sister lead a normal life. Even as she is regaining control of her body, she considers Addie’s feelings. Eventually, her obsession with gaining body control takes over her character.

The first moment I winced at Eva’s character was when she pulled the guilty card on her sister. Eva finds out there might be a way for her to regain mobility control, while Addie is skeptical (and fearing the consequences if word leaks,) Eva says something along the lines of, “If our roles was switched, I would do it for you.” So maybe Eva has desperate, I forgive her, but my dislike solidified when their hybridity was discovered because Eva moved. However, instead of being frightened, or at least trying to remedy the situation, Eva celebrates about moving again. At that moment, I wanted to slap Eva for sealing their fate in this institute.
For a whole chunk of the novel, I didn’t see the compassionate Eva who worried about Addie until the end.

I, us, our, Addie, my
One noteworthy aspect of the book is when Eva uses what pronoun in what situation. You’ll notice that sometimes Eva will say “Addie moved OUR arm” and sometimes “Addie moved HER arm,” I suppose this is her way to clarify if she “approves” of Addie’s decisions? But sometimes I feel like it’s her way to shrink from responsibility, “oh, it’s not me. It’s all HER fault.” If I were to re-read this book (not happening) I would want to pay closer attention to those pronouns.

Addie, the dominant soul
At first I didn’t really care for Addie. But the more I disliked Eva, the more I could sympathize with Addie. Unlike Eva, Addie is much more logical. And perhaps because she isn’t crazy over the need to regain mobility, she is the worrier of the two. She cares about the consequences but yet she let’s Eva have her way. After three years of “normalcy,” suddenly Addie has to share her body again–and get dragged into some institution for it. Eva never apologizes for dragging them into this situation. She could really just ignore Eva and go about her life as a “normal” teenager.

Complexity in Characters:
Addie and Eva are such unique characters that I keep thinking about their bond. Unlike us, they can’t really call their body their own. I wonder how they see each other. I’m sure at times they get frustrated at an inescapable soul spying on them 24/7, but I wonder what if the souls hate each other? What bonds them together…in the end, they are each just a voice in the other’s head. They will never physically hug each other. They cant even “gossip,” since they experience the same things at the same time. Sure Eva gives Addie test answers…reminds her about daily things, but is that because Eva cares for Addie, or is it because she wants to interact with reality, even if only vicariously through Addie? To share toys is one thing, but to share your body, a piece of your identity…
While I saw Addie and Eva as very different characters, I didn’t really care about the other hybirds which seemed the same to me.

The Parents:
I can see why they let their daughter go away, but really? signing your daughter away just because a bunch of strangers came to your door?

All the other stuff:
All the other stuff was a blur, the world-building was just too simplistic and breezed over before you know it. We never get solid answers, only a few shallow hints here and there. “ooh, hybrids are dangerous..government is against them..other countries are ruined…but wait, it’s a conspiracy!” Except I think I just made it sound more interesting that it actually is.

Made me think about multiple personality disorder:
I am still holding onto the suspicion that Addie or Eva is crazy. If Addie/Eva is just a soul that can’t bleed, can we really “kill” one of them? If Eva isn’t even supposed to exist, would anyone care?

Overall, the creative concept had so much potential and I felt the opportunity wasn’t grasped. I found the story just too slow, and Addie/Eva’s inaction for a bulk of the novel bored me to the point of no redemption. I still want to know how Kat Zhang will resolve Eva and Addie, will one of them die? Or will one soul be transferred into another body? Or is this whole thing a lie? Hmmmm.

If you don’t mind something slow paced, and you are looking for a creative that get you thinking, don’t hesitate to pick up What’s Left of Me.

Rating: C++