What’s Left of Me (Hybrid Chronicles, Book 1)
HarperCollins (CA: 4th September 2012; US: 18th September 2012; UK: 27th September 2012; AU: 1st October 2012)
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I was reluctant to start this novel, afraid it wouldn’t live up to its awesome premise. But the start of What’s Left of Me is the best: it grips readers straight away with its unusual narrative, eerie circumstances, and threat of medical intervention. A few years ago, I had a story idea involving “soul surgery”, and here Kat Zhang’s beaten me to it. I’m terribly jealous, of course, but great minds…
Anyhoo, the threat of medical intervention is very much real. Addie and Eva Tamsyn are two souls in one body, though Addie is dominant and Eva the recessive. Taken to a facility, they’re subjected to injections, brain scans…and meeting the only body to have survived the removal surgery. I love this medical shiz, but I wanted more detail: what exact part of the brain contains the extra soul? The amygdale? The frontal lobe in general? How does the medication work to sedate one soul while the other takes over? Neuroscience is fascinating, and fiction needs more of it.
Albeit the whole “shipped off to a facility with other kids, plan to escape” plotline is far too common in fiction, and thus doesn’t work for me here.
Another problem is that in Eva and Addie’s world, “foreignness” is deemed bad. Hally “looks foreign”, so she doesn’t really have any friends, and the Americas have shut their doors to foreigners, because of supposed psychotic outbreaks of hybrids overseas. This pisses me off for so many reasons, as it’s easy to blame other countries than accept that one’s own may be at fault. The anti-foreign aspect of this futuristic/dystopian world is so racist and prejudiced, and I despise the Americas’ government who spreads that attitude to its citizens…
In short: I don’t like the setting in which these characters live, but I figure that’s the intended effect. Well played, dear author.