Tag Archives: What’s Left of Me

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

29 Sep

“Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls’ ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.”

Hi, precious flowers. Once upon a time, I got my very first YA or GTFO ARC in the mail. OK, so maybe it was through Goodreads firstreads, but whatever. I would like to think that maybe I got chosen because of this blog. We all have our little delusions. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about Kat Zhang‘s What’s Left of Me, both because it was an interesting concept for a “dystopia” (I am using this term loosely here) and because it was the first time an ARC showed up on my doorstep with my blog’s name on it. Unfortunately, all those fresh-faced hopes were really disappointed with this dud.

Eva lives in an alternate reality in which people are born with two souls in one body. As the body goes through childhood, one of the souls gets weaker and weaker until finally it relinquishes control to the dominant soul and takes a nap for the rest of its “life.” Eva is a recessive soul that never left; she and Addie share one body, but they must live as if only Addie is present. People who make it through childhood with both souls alive and kicking are known as “hybrids,” and if they are discovered they’re carted off to looney bins or whatever and never heard from again. After years of being covertly dual-souled, Eva and Addie befriend Hally, a girl whose “foreign” looks mark her as strange in this alternate imagining of a pseudo-Aryan nation isolated U.S.A. (the rest of the world is overrun by rascally hybrids, which means wars and famine and general chaos). As they become closer, Hally shows Eva/Addie that there is a way to give Eva control over their body again, and even though it could risk their lives, Eva is willing to risk anything for the opportunity to be bodily alive for even a short while.

I’ll start with the positive. This was a really interesting concept and Kat Zhang did a good job of playing with language to convey the idea that there are two people living in one body; whenever something happens to Eva/Addie, Eva refers to herself as “we,” or “us.” The only times that she refers to herself as “I” is when she is talking about her thoughts or feelings, or when she is actually moving their body. It’s an interesting examination of what it is to be human, what it means to have an identity, and the horribly claustrophobic feeling of being trapped inside a physical body that you cannot control. I enjoyed the relationship between Addie and Eva; there was a subtle examination of the power play between them, and the interplay of guilt and reassurance that comes from it. Aside from those positive points, I’ve got nothing.

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New this week! And some other thoughts on life.

16 Sep

So, it’s come to my attention that I don’t post enough. When I first started this blog, I thought I would just post a review whenever I happened to read a YA book, which ends up being roughly every month or so, which just isn’t enough. How to remedy this? I probably won’t read more than one YA book a month since I am an adult and do like to occasionally read books meant for grown-ups; for example, right now I am ALMOST DONE with Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and holy cow it’s amazing but it’s taken me a couple weeks to plow through 540 pages of tiny typeset for adults. I also decided that, while I’m sure EVERYONE is DYING to hear my long-winded, snotty ex-English major reviews, people might want a little more. Some spice, some fluff, some little slurps of juice to hold you over until I wax snarky on whatever teen book is just waiting for me to devour it.

My point being, I decided I’m going to start doing a weekly post on new books for the coming week and, because I am a librarian, readers advisory booklists. So, if there are any themes or read alikes you want to know about, send me an email (contact info in my “about” section) or post a comment, I’d love to hear from my readers!

NEW FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 18

Title: Because it is My Blood
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: crime drama, dystopia, romance
Blurb: Since her release from Liberty Children’s Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve–and her heart–will be tested as never before.
Excitement Factor: Perhaps, if I ever get around to reading the first book, All These Things I’ve Done.

Title: Burn for Burn
Author: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: contemporary, chick lit, drama
Blurb: Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge. None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible. With an unlikely alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently…” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.
Excitement Factor: Nope.

Title: Glass Heart
Author: Amy Garvey
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Blurb:  Wren can do things that other people can only dream of. Make it snow on a clear, crisp day. Fly through an abandoned tunnel. Bring a paper bird to life. Wren knows her abilities are tinged with danger—knows how easy it is to lose control—but she can’t resist the intoxicating rush. And now that she has Gabriel by her side, someone who knows what she can do—what she has done—she finally feels free to be herself. But as Wren explores the possibilities of her simmering powers, Gabriel starts pushing her away. Telling her to be careful. Telling her to stop. The more he cautions her, the more determined Wren becomes to prove that she can handle things on her own. And by the time she realizes that Gabriel may be right, it could be too late to bring him back to her side
Excitement Factor: Perhaps, if I ever get around to reading the first book, Cold Kiss.

Title: Ten
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Mystery
Blurb:  It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school’s most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury. But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
Excitement Factor: Maybe.

Title: The Crown of Embers
AuthorRae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Fantasy
Blurb: Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t.Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from both foreign realms and within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled. To conquer the power she bears once and for all, Elisa must follow the trail of long-forgotten–and forbidden–clues from the deep, undiscovered catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her goes a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man who–despite everything–she is falling in love with. If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.
Excitement Factor: Perhaps, if I ever get around to reading the first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Blurb: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Excitement factor: OMG.

Title: What’s Left of Me
Author: Kat Zhang
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Blurb: 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.
Excitement Factor: Buzz buzz buzz! This freshman offering has been generating some talk. And, psst, I’m reading my very own ARC right now!