Title: What's Left of Me
Author: Kat Zhang
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Released: Sept 27, 2012
Buy: The Book Depository
Addie and Eva are two souls born into the same body. In their world, this is perfectly normal, as it should be. What isn’t normal is for them both to have remained present sixteen years later. Once a body settles at childhood, it is expected for the recessive soul to disappear and the dominant soul to take control of the body. Addie and Eva never settled - not properly. While Eva’s presence lingers in her head, Addie pretends to be as normal as every other girl she knows. She pretends she isn’t exactly the thing everyone in her world hates and fears…
Kat Zhang’s debut novel is teeming with originality. It’s common to find the same idea re-written several times these days, especially in young adult books, yet I have never come across such a premise before. The thought of sharing my body with my oh-so-lovely sister, or anyone really, is enough to give me nightmares. What’s even more chilling is the thought of being Eva, of not being in control, of being nothing more than an observer behind someone’s eyes. It’s safe to say that I was intrigued by the ideas behind this book, and, thankfully, Zhang’s writing did this unique premise justice.
The relationship between Addie and Eva is incredibly touching, sometimes heart-breaking. It’s clear both are emotionally incomplete without each other, that they rely on each other and love each other in ways deeper than most siblings. The struggle to ensure they both got what they want, even when it was at the cost of their own happiness, was utterly moving. It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for Eva, and at times, frustration at Addie, but in the end, both are quite clearly admirable for different reasons.
The pacing is very carefully controlled in this book. It’s not an exceedingly long read, yet a lot takes place without becoming overly dramatic. To me, this story was more about Eva and Addie than the bigger picture (which is why I was happy to overlook a few grey areas in the world-building). Getting to know the other characters, many of whom were in fact two characters in one body, was an interesting experience. A handful of key secondary characters are introduced in this book and Zhang did a superb job making sure each personality was distinguishable. Devon and Ryan were especially crafted well. Small details were crucial here, from facial features to basic tone of speech, and Zhang emphasised these incredibly well to make each character distinct. I know I’m not the only one who likes a little romance in their books, and while there isn’t a great deal present here, there is enough to appreciate the relationship between Ryan and Eva.
Although the ending wasn’t quite what I wanted, I am eager to get hold of the sequel now and continue the story. The beautiful writing and fantastic characterisation make this novel an impressive start to what is set to be a promising series. Kat Zhang is an author who I hope we will be seeing a lot more from in the future.
Rating: 4 stars