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Addie and Eva are 15 year olds living somewhere in America. They have a mother, a father and a younger brother. But Addie and Eva are not sisters, or twins, in the usual sense. They are two minds who share one body, and they are in trouble.
Author Kat Zhang has dreamed up a fabulously dystopian world in which for every body born, two souls arrive with it. During their early years, one soul will prove to be more dominant, and the other will gradually fade away. Or that's what is supposed to happen. Though they took longer than normal to 'settle', Addie is the one who won the battle, as far as their parents and teachers, and more importantly the authorities, are concerned. Eva no longer exists to them, but she's still there, hiding inside a body that Addie controls, silent next to a mouth through which Addie speaks.
This book is scary, not in a Halloween ghosts and goblins kind of way, but because of the way the authorities react, and the power they have to act on people who don't fit in with what it best for society. In a modern day witch hunt, they seek out and destroy Hybrids, at whatever cost, for where Hybrids are concerned, this is no longer a staunchly Pro-Life nation.
One of the most interesting things about this book is the relationship between Addie and Eva. Because of her limited strength and her removal from the public eye Eva could be seen as little more than a voice in Addie's head, a conscience of sorts, but she is much more than that and as the story progresses, struggles become bigger and more complicated. Telling the story from Eva's point of view is clever because it gives you a feel for her as a character and a legitimacy for her thoughts and actions in a world where Addie is normally the one in control.
The girls' parents don't feature much in the story, though their almost detachment from their daughter/s is somewhat understandable, if not justifiable, given what is happening with their younger son and the way they are manipulated by the government. For them, though, Eva was gone a long time ago, and though they named and knew both daughters from birth, they also understood the way things worked and that shortly they would have to say goodbye to one of the minds within their body.
This is such an intriguing piece of YA writing, I could barely put it down and it made me long for the days when I was a young adult myself, and could read books like this in public without getting funny looks. Those people don't know what they're talking about, though, because no matter how old you are, I think this is a book you should read. It was reminiscent of The Declaration by Gemma Malley, especially the way in which the Hybrids who do not settle are removed from their parents and locked up in a facility.
With books like this, there are no more welcome words that can be found on a cover than 'Book 1 of the Hybrid Chronicles'. If the next one was out now, I'd be buying it immediately, because I'm far from done with this world. There are so many places this series could go. There is talk that the USA is unique in the way it deals with Hybrids, so perhaps an excursion overseas, or at least contact with some foreign lands, will be in the cards. There is evidence of an uprising, of a resistance movement gaining momentum, of potential public outcry when they discover the secrets Addie and Eva have stumbled upon during their time in the facility. Whatever happens, with this as the first installment I can only expect great things.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
What's Left Of Me is out now in paperback and on Kindle.