"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."
Characters: The most best part of What's Left of Me, hands down, is its characters. The relationship between Eva and Addie is the main focus of the piece, and the complex emotions that each girl has are well displayed. Their actions are one dimensional or idiotic. It would be easy to simplify the dynamic that Eva and Addie have, but Zhang keeps it realistic. The book may have its faults, but the character study at the heart of the novel is very nuanced.
The side characters aren't nearly as compelling as Eva and her sister, and are more typical of the average dystopia. Due to the jerky pacing, it was difficult for me to bond with the secondary personalities of the novel. However, Addie and Eva had an interesting enough dynamic to keep me engaged. 4 flowers.
Writing: The premise to What's Left is fascinating and unusual. Zhang does an excellent job of explaining complex situations, and her internal monologues are brilliant. Overall, I didn't think her style was particularly memorable, but there's a maturity and confidence in Zhang's prose that will only grow in time. 4 flowers.
Plot: Here's where the major problems start. When What's Left focuses on the main characters and their connection, the book is incredibly intriguing and thought-provoking. Once it begins to gravitate away from this premise and start to develop into a more conventional dystopic novel, it gets pretty lackluster. The pace is jerky and the logic iffy. At the beginning of the book, Eva has a very hard time controlling her body, but towards the end of the novel, she moves rather easily. Considering the short time span that the book covers, this didn't feel very natural to me. Not to mention all the holes in the world. As a reader, I'm still not entirely sure if What's Left is even supposed to be in the future or an alternate universe. There are an unbelievable number of unanswered questions surrounding the world-building, and while I can forgive this in more character-based dystopias, it's is a lot harder to forgive in an action based piece. I wanted so much more information about the history and politics. 2 flowers.
End: The twist wasn't all that surprising, and I was disappointed with how radically different the book's end was in comparison to its beginning. 2 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: It doesn't give away too much, and it highlights all the most interesting components of the novel. I can't fault it too much. 4 flowers.
Cover: It has a simplistic and slick aesthetic, but the model looks nothing like Addie/Eva. 3 flowers.
Overall: I look forward to reading more of Zhang, as I think she'll develop into an excellent writer. However, I don't think I'd read any other books in The Hybrid Chronicles. While the premise is compelling, the plot isn't. An unfortunate disappointment. 2 and a half flowers.