View from the window seat:
Eva and Addie begin life as everyone else: two different souls entwined in one body. But as they grow older, something is off: they don’t settle, one of them doesn’t disappear. Eventually, Addie is accepted as the dominant soul, while the doctors declare that Eva has faded. But Eva remains, clinging to the remnants of her life while Addie hides her presence. Then they meet Hally, a girl who offers Eva a chance to move and talk again. They run a great risk even trying, as hybrids are feared and reviled by society, but Eva has to try. This decision changes everything.
I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like What’s Left of Me. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around two completely different souls sharing the same body, with one who can’t even use that body. It speaks to Kat Zhang’s prodigious skill that within a few pages I not only felt that this concept was natural as breathing, but I was totally hooked on Addie and Eva’s story.
Addie and Eva’s relationship is done flawlessly. Eva is trapped in Addie’s mind, unable to move their limbs or speak her thoughts aloud. But Eva never once feels bitter towards Addie about this. She simply wants to live, and she is defined by this struggle to hold on and never give up. Though Eva narrates, we understand Addie as well and her guilt about Eva’s physical powerlessness. They truly are two souls entwined, fighting with and caring for each other, evolving together as the action progresses. I nearly cried when Addie referred to them as “us” aloud for the first time since Eva pretended to disappear.
The society that forces them to hide who they are is frightening and disturbingly realistic. This is very much a dystopian novel, with hybrids hated and feared. The reveal of what’s actually going on with the hybrids, and how the Americas relate to the rest of the world, is chilling.
What’s Left of Me is an emotional dystopian novel that caught my heart. I will definitely be back for more.