A highly evocative debut novel by Kat Zhang,  What’s Left of Me is set in a dystopian world, a genre birthed in novels such as Nineteen Eighty-Four. In this novel, every child is born with a recessive and dominant soul in their body. Once the child reaches a certain age, the recessive soul ‘fades out’, leaving the dominant soul as the sole being within the body. This doesn’t happen for Eva and Addie, and faced with the option of the being taken away and forced to ‘settle’, they keep this a secret. The alternative would mean the death of the recessive soul, Eva.

“We’d been born with our souls’ fingers interlocked. What if we’d never let go?”

Zhang’s prose is lovely; the struggle between Eva and Addie to try to be two distinct individuals whilst being physically the same person is very compelling and also rather sad. There is a certain level of tension between these two souls that share a body, a weakness and vulnerability, yet an uncompromising need and reliance on one another, particularly as they are faced with a world that would see them destroyed. There is a profound bond between these two souls and Zhang plays upon a certain level of push and pull that characterises Eva and Addie’s relationship. The novel is told from the perspective of Eva, who is a helpless spectator inside of their joint body, only able to watch as Addie controls their movements and actions, the soul that should have died long ago.

This novel is an unsettling and unflinching look at the idea of identity and what it means to be human.

It is the first book in the The Hybrid Chronicles.

Jessica Reid

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