Publisher: Harper Collins.
Paperback, 343 pages.
Release date: September 27th 2012.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Liz from Planet Print.
How I Live Now meets His Dark Materials in this stunningly written and intensely moving debut.
Imagine that you have two minds, sharing one body. You and your other self are closer than twins, better than friends. You have known each other forever.
Then imagine that people like you are hated and feared. That the government want to hunt you down and tear out your second soul, separating you from the person you love most in the world. Now meet Eva and Addie. They don’t have to imagine.
Addie is the dominant soul. She’s the one who moves, who talks, who makes the decisions. Eva is the recessive soul, and she was supposed to have disappeared years ago. But Eva still remains. She and Addie are the only ones who know that Eva isn’t really gone, and neither of them could bear the thought of losing the other. But still having two souls at this age makes them a hybrid. Being a hybrid is dangerous and everyone knows that hybrids who get taken away never come back. Addie can’t risk Eva being discovered, but Eva longs to be her own person, and to regain some control over their shared body. When the girls find out that might actually be possibly, everything changes, and they must decide if it’s worth risking the “normal” life they’ve worked so hard for.
What’s Left of Me was an interesting read that made me think about a lot of things. Told from Eva’s point of view, we got to see the world coloured in the recessive soul’s perspective. Addie and Eva weren’t that different, but there were a few things that separated them. Addie seemed to be slightly more rebellious, perhaps because she was dominant and didn’t have to sit back and watch all the time, but Eva seemed to be the better speaker, and maybe more of a people-person (which sounds weird...but perhaps because she felt alone, she was able to respond better to others like her). I liked them both and could sympathise with them both too. Addie had spent her whole life being dominant, being told only dominant souls should exist, and while she loved Eva, she was terrified of losing that control, and disappearing. Eva was trapped inside her and Addie’s body, unable to say anything for herself, or decide anything without first discussing what she wanted with Addie. When the girls found out Eva might be able to take equal control again, Addie was reluctant to take part, but she did because she knew how much Eva wanted it.
The romance was...odd. Don’t get me wrong...I liked Ryan, who was another hybrid and Eva’s love interest. But a) it was way insta-lovey and I literally had no idea why Ryan liked Eva so much and vice versa since most of the time they spent together, Eva could barely move or speak, and b) how could he tell the difference between Eva and Addie without them telling him who was in control (and same for Eva distinguishing between Devon and Ryan)? Sometimes, after Eva had learnt how to gain control, she took over for about a minute just to say a generic line or two about something, and yet somehow Ryan knew it was Eva speaking and not Addie, even though they looked the same, spoke in the same voice and Eva wasn’t even directly addressing him as herself. It was weird. I get they were meant to have some kind of connection and maybe if they’d had known each other for years, I would believe that he could tell when they had switched. But seriously, they barely knew each other and yet he could tell between Eva and Addie perfectly, in the DARK? I would believe if it Eva and Addie had very different personalities (which they didn’t), or even if Eva had been talking for a while, and talking style had changed so it was obvious it was no longer Addie – but Ryan seemed to know it was Eva practically immediately, when they switched mid-conversation. It just seemed way too convenient for me, that someone who barely knew them, could do that. Plus there was the whole fact that Addie didn’t like Ryan in that way and it was all really complicated and ahh. I don’t know.
The world-building was okay, but I would have liked to have known more about hybrids. Was this a society where people with two souls had always existed? If so, why? Or did it used to be like our world, and hybrids had somehow developed in the future? (The former is hinted at most, but still, I would have liked more explanation.) Why were the other countries more accepting of hybrids than in the Americas? Why were hybrids who hadn’t settled (ie, whose recessive soul hadn’t disappeared) viewed as so “dangerous”? How could parents simply be fine with one of the souls in the child they had raised simply disappearing? I had loads of unanswered questions, but perhaps they’ll be explored more in book two. Plot-wise, it was interesting to see Eva learn to gain more control and see the strain it put on her relationship with Addie, as well as learning what happened to hybrids who were taken away. I was also reminded of something I’d watched/learnt about dissociative identity disorder (DID), commonly known as multiple personality disorder, and was wondering if the author was inspired by studies on the condition when writing this book.
Overall, What’s Left of Me was not without its problems, but was definitely an enjoyable read, so I would say give it a try!