Friday, 24 August 2012

YA Book Review: 'What's Left Of Me' by Kat Zhang

What's Left Of Me
by Kat Zhang

Published: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Received ARC from Publisher
Format: E-Book
Pages: 356

Cover Art

I think this cover really suits the book, and is simple yet eye-catching. I'm not really a fan of photos on covers but the obscured face on this one is quite cool. However, the problem I have with it now I have read the book is that the main character isn't supposed to be really beautiful, but I guess that's just YA for you; plain, pale, freckly girls have no place on book covers!

Plot Synopsis

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.

My Rating:

First Line:
'Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls' ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped out very first breath.'
Pocket-Size Review
This book is PURE MISERY. It is unbelievably depressing, which is why I had to give it 2.5 stars. It isn't badly written, I just found it too much of a downer.

Highs: The writing is fine, and the main characters are fine. Nothing spectacular though.
Lows: The whole book is a low. As Flo Rider would say: low, low, low, low, low, low.


When Googling this book to find a picture, the first results kept coming up with Nick Lachey. He either had a single or album called 'What's Left Of Me'. If I was an author I would be put off calling my book the same as something Nick Lachey deemed good. Just sayin.

Anyway, title jesting aside, this book was not for me. It wasn't that it was a bad book, I just really didn't enjoy it. It was so horribly, horribly depressing that I was actually wondering if there was any good left on this Earth. It wasn't depressing in a good way, like because the author killed off all my favourite characters and I couldn't continue reading through my uncontrollable weeping. It was depressing because nothing good ever happened and the characters were just consumed in a huge ball of fear. You never really got to know any of them because they were so sad and afraid for the entire novel. I made a list of all the words that came to mind while I was reading this book: 

- claustrophobic
- septic
- disinfectant
- fear
- chaos
- scream
- unsettled
- frightened
- alone
- trapped
- facility
- stifling
- confused
- festered
- despair
- pounding
- empty

As you can mind went to some dark, dark places. I don't think I have ever felt physically trapped and claustrophobic whilst reading before, but I did whilst reading this book. The whole premise of the book is horrendous when you think about it. Every person is born with two souls. One soul becomes dominant and takes over the body until the other fades away. In 'What's Left Of Me', the recessive, fading- away soul is the narrator. The one who is trapped and paralyzed within a body she has no control over. HORRENDOUS! I don't know about you, but the idea of being paralyzed and unable to move away from pain or control your own limbs is absolutely horrifying. The claustrophobia of Eva's existence and how trapped and paralyzed she feels is portrayed well, which is a testament to the writing, but, for me, it was such a depressing concept that I couldn't enjoy the book. Maybe I would have if things got better and more positive, but they don't. The feeling of being trapped is only accentuated with the girls situation and the facility they end up in. There is a horrible scene where they are forced into an MRI scanner and they are screaming and having a panic attack and nobody is helping them. It really disturbed me!

The characters are fine. I mean, they are so completely freaking out and afraid for the whole book that you never really get to know them. They are either crying, screaming, sobbing, or 'setting' their mouth 'into a thin line'. What I did like was that there wasn't a focus on looks, and, in my head, Addie/Eva was a plain girl. I liked that as it made her seem more normal. There is a flash of romance but it isn't a central focus, which I did appreciate as this is not a book that would do well with a romance. I don't believe in romance in dire circumstances. That is, when characters meet when they are in mortal danger and become entangled...romantically. If you are in that kind of situation you cling to the nearest person for protection and comfort and companionship rather than love or even any sort of real attraction. It is just instincts kicking in. That is why I find it difficult to find those romances cute or real.

The relationship between Addie and Eva in their shared mind is fascinating. It is moving to hear Addie's guilt at being the dominant and controlling twin, and to hear Eva comforting and reassuring her despite longing for her own life and her share of control. They do have a very sweet relationship, and they did have distinctive personalities which is quite an achievement on the author's part. I imagine the struggles in Addie/Eva's mind is something akin to Abby and Brittany Hensel's on a daily basis.

Overall, the writing in this novel is good and puts across well the claustrophobia and despair of being trapped in a body you can't control. But do you really want to read a whole book of that? I didn't. 

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: Happy, Skippy, Jumpy books.

Memorable Quote:

'How many of them would submit to the knife, two souls whispering good-byes as anesthesia robbed the strength from their limbs.'

Three Words to Describe this Book: Claustrophobic, Suffocating, Depressing.

But Don't Take My Word For It: 
  • Blog Reviews of 'What's Left Of Me': 

' This novel was so fas­ci­nat­ing and awe­some. After all that I just have one last thing to say: More now, please.'

'What's Left Of Me is an spellbinding start. Once in the story, you can't help but feel the pull of the characters. Each chapter is well-constructed to pull the reader deeper. And the conclusion delivers a grand feeling of giddiness.What's Left Of Me is awesome!'


  1. I actually enjoyed the morbid tone of this book. I don't know what that says about me. :P I can understand why you didn't enjoy it as much and you make valid points. Lovely review! :)

    1. Haha I did think it was very atmospheric and was executed well- I just wanted to finish it ASAP so I could feel happy again :-P

  2. What a shame; I've not read it yet, and I'm still curious, but I enjoyed your review. Especially like that you've included a couple of sentences from other bloggers who enjoyed the book, I usually feel I need to signpost people to a positive view, if I've given something less than three stars :)

    1. I would give it a go if you're curious- it really isn't a bad book I just felt it was overly depressing. I think it's nice to get some second opinions- there are always going to people who will both love and hate the same both and it is interesting to read both sides!

  3. tnx 4 the honest review . i\m strange like sam i enjoy morbid tones

    1. Haha yeah morbid tones can be good and this book definitely has a unique concept!

  4. It's a pity you didn't enjoy this book all too much, but I'm still looking forward to reading it. Nice and honest review!

  5. I enjoyed your review, I can think of a particular book that has made me feel similar. Like you it inspired me to search for the more happy stories. I like the concept of this book but I know if I'm going to read this I'd have a Stephanie Perkins book waiting for me right after.

    1. Haha YES that would be perfect- go from sombre to sassy :-)

  6. When I first heard of this book, I was dying to read it! But now, with all the mixed reviews, I'm not so sure. This book sounds depressing with a capital D! I'm not fond of sad books. For me, there always needs to be some hope throughout the book, or else I'll suffer through it, or just end up marking it as DNF.

    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one much, Anna! Thanks for the honest review, though. =)

    1. If you're excited to read it I think you still should- a lot of people have really liked it so I think I'm in the minority! It is depressing- but there is a bit of hope thrown in too (just not enough for me!)

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  9. This is a wonderfully written and very original story for adults and young adults as well. I found myself wrapped up in the characters and not wanting to put this book down. I will definitely be reading the next one from Kat Zhang. She has definitely found her calling.

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