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Summary and book reviews of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me

The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One

by Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2012, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson

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About this Book

Book Summary

In this emotionally haunting debut from Kat Zhang, Eva and Addie are two souls sharing one body…and a dangerous secret.

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.

P R O L O G U E

Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls' ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath. Our earliest years together were also our happiest. Then came the worries—the tightness around our parents' mouths, the frowns lining our kindergarten teacher's forehead, the question everyone whispered when they thought we couldn't hear.

Why aren't they settling?

Settling.

We tried to form the word in our five-year-old mouth, tasting it on our tongue.

Set—Tull—Ling.

We knew what it meant. Kind of. It meant one of us was supposed to take control. It meant the other was supposed to fade away. I know now that it means much, much more than that. But at five, Addie and I were still naive, still oblivious.

The varnish of innocence began wearing away by first grade. Our gray-haired guidance counselor made the first scratch.

"You know, dearies, settling isn't scary," she'd say as we watched her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

I believe readers 13 and up, will enjoy this book, which is more than just a tense, edge-of-your-seat adventure; it is also a moving and thought-provoking drama, with broad appeal. Its exploration about the meaning of identity and a focus on gender issues will bring many interesting discussion topics for the classroom or for a book club.   (Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus Review

A thought provoking first installment in a series that unflinchingly takes on ethically challenging topics.

Booklist

Despite some predictable story elements and the occasionally confusing use of collective and individual pronouns, this debut offers an intriguing depiction of sibling relationships and the challenges of learning to live as distinct, though not physically separate, individuals.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Addressing issues of identity, ethics, and choice, Zhang's concept is original and provocative; the deep bond between Eva and Addie ... and the mystery about why their society is so desperate to 'fix' hybrids are riveting.

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What Defines Dystopian Fiction

John Stuart Mill Dystopian themes have appeared in literature throughout history, but the first use of the word is credited to John Stuart Mill. In 1868, during a speech to the British House of Commons, he played upon the well-known word, "utopia" (adding "dys," which is derived from a Greek word meaning "bad") and used it to criticize legislators who supported a policy with which he disagreed. He said that they were "dys-topians" because they were supporting a policy that was "too bad to be practical."

As to the word "utopia," it would have been familiar to Mill's audience because it had been around for over 350 years, having been coined by Thomas More (the Renaissance humanist and writer) who combined the Greek words for "good place" (eutopia) and "no ...

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