Zhang, Kat. What’s Left Of Me, The Hybrid Chronicles.
HarperCollins Publishers, 2012.
What’s Left Of Me, The Hybrid Chronicles
Written By: Kat Zhang
Reviewed By: Samantha Truong
Recommended Audience: Ages 12-16
In a futuristic dystopian world, all babies are born with two souls entwined in a single body, where one must die out over time and the other dominates. This is the pain of Eva and Addie, two girls who have always remembered sharing their body ever since birth. This is normal in their world: a young baby bearing two souls, taking turns controlling their body’s movements and actions. If nature plays its part successfully, the child must “settle” by the age of five, when one of the two minds fades away and the other owns the body to itself. If one failed to settle, it meant something was terribly wrong with them. Those who couldn’t settle after the necessary age became known as “hybrids”. Many tried to disguise themselves as normal people; many others went crazy, the two souls trying to tear apart from each other. They were the cause of a devastating war in history resulting in all hybrids being forced out of the United States, leaving it a hybrid-free country. This spawned many problems, as all those foreign to American blood was almost always hybrid. Simply being hybrid and living on American-soil made you a criminal, and those who were caught had the worst coming for them. The predicament with Eva and Addie is that, even after surpassing the proper age, they wouldn’t settle. Ever since the first-grade, Addie began to show signs of being the more dominant soul, taking better control of their body’s motor functions while Eva was incapable of resisting, even if she disagreed with the choices Addie made. Despite being the weaker soul, Eva clung to what control she had left of their shared body, refusing to leave the world as the soul that should be forgotten. For this reason, Eva and Addie have always been known as the strange little girl who wouldn’t settle. At the age of six, a year after they settling limit, they began to see specialists, one after the other. They ran tests, were given medication, asked questions, yet given no answer as to why their condition was the way it was. Their parents would cry, plead, and beg for more time, more time for their little girl to settle, to become normal. All their tests and medications were for the sole purpose of accomplishing one goal: getting rid of Eva.
Their efforts worked, in a way. Eva began to fade away rapidly, losing more and more control of their body. Their parents, who were once frantic and hopeless, found relief, happy their little girl would be able to live a normal life. Finally, at the age of twelve, the doctors confirmed Addie settled, releasing her from the frenzy of tests and medicine. To celebrate, their family moved to a new town where they could start anew, a place where nobody knew of Addie and Eva’s previous condition, where they could blend in as a family with a normal and settled daughter. Ever since then, Eva’s name was never called nor written. When they applied to a new school, “Addie” was the only name written on their application form. Everyone thought it was finally over, that their little girl was finally like everyone else. What they didn’t know was that, even after their doctors claimed they had settled, Eva was all there. She hadn’t disappeared. Although she had no control over their body, she was able to see the world through Addie’s eyes, think her own thoughts, and diverge in her own self-pity. The only person who knew Eva hadn’t gone away was Addie. Addie and Eva communicate with one another in their minds, and did little to stay sane without each other. There was never a time, even after Eva had lost all her motor functions, Addie hadn’t acknowledged the fact that Eva was still alive inside of her.
They thought they could live this way forever, keeping Eva concealed within their body. No one had to know she still existed. The only person Eva had left in her life was Addie, the only girl who could hear her, the only girl who shared every living moment with her ever since they were brought into the world. They were able to convince their own parents that they were settled for two years. And two years was all it took for it to happen; someone knew they hadn’t settled as everyone was fooled into thinking. It wasn’t a doctor or professor who discovered their secret, however. Rather, it was a fellow student of theirs, a girl avoided because of her Spanish-lineage, a large indication that she might have been hybrid herself. It was Hally Mullan, a freshman attending Addie’s high school. She had latched herself onto Addie, who was unable to push her away due to Hally’s constant clinginess and Eva’s objections, as she had felt sorry for the girl. Being near Hally was possibly the worst mistake they could have made. Invited to the Mullan house, Addie was less than willing to go, however Eva had reassured her that being considerate wouldn’t hurt anyone. Eva couldn’t have been more wrong. The date resulted in Hally revealing that both she and her older brother Devon were hybrids, their neighboring souls Lissa and Ryan. She found out Addie shared the same problem after suspicions and hacking into their medical files. They were different from Eva and Addie, however, as the hybrids shared the same amount of control over their bodies, and promised to teach Eva how to do the same. In utter denial, Addie fled the house, only to have Eva coax her into going back, pleading that they could be the solution to her problem, as she was desperate to relearn how talk and move again.
Eventually, Addie returned. Hally had happily accepted Eva’s request, drugging Addie into a forced sleep. Only Eva was aware as Addie was unconscious. During her first session, Hally and Devon had guided her, attempting to teach her how to use her motor skills as she had when they were younger. Eva’s efforts brought no progress until at the very last minute, when she was able strangle a single phrase in her frustration: “I can’t!”. From then on, Eva would urge Addie to go to the Mullans house progressively, and little by little, Eva was able to regain a few of her abilities. Everything seemed to fall back into place for Eva, until Hally and Devon were discovered. An institution had taken Hally and Lissa away once they discovered she had not settled, to a place where they would “correct her”. Before Addie and Eva were to share Hally’s fate, Devon warned them to run, to run away from their homes so they wouldn’t be discovered. Addie and Eva hadn’t carried out his warning, as they hadn’t any idea where to go if they ran away. They later regretted not listening to his advice, because on the same night they were warned, a stern man under the name Mr. Conivent visited their home to collect them. It was a shock for their parents, as Eva hadn’t been mentioned for two years ever since Addie claimed to have settled. They had done everything in their will to prevent their daughter from being taken away, however by the end of the night they were in his car and being driven away to the airport, where they would be sent to Nornand, a clinic where doctors analyze and “correct” hybrids. The story unfolds as Addie and Eva must stay strong and support each other when their chance of living a normal life is threatened, and must find a way to get out of the clinic, all the while learning how to survive together and hold on to what they cherish the most: life.
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