Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!
This month's Book Pick is WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): I should not exist. But I do.
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.
First Line: Addie and I were born into the same body, our soul's ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.
So much is said in just a sentence. We know it's about two characters sharing one body and that they share a bond that is stronger and deeper than anything we can imagine - it's something they've been dealing with all their lives. But more than information, the way Zhang has structured the sentence - it's lyrical and sets an almost haunting stage.
Highlights: While there is a romantic subplot, at the end of the day, it's a story about sisters and that was a big bonus point for me since I have a sister and I'm writing about sisters. Zhang has been conscious to build not just strong main characters but also secondary characters who's roles really help to further the development of Eva and Addie.
Notes for Writers: I've often been taught when writing that you should write like you're sitting on your protagonist's shoulder, seeing and feeling things the way they would see and feel it. In Zhang's novel, she's successfully perched her protagonist not on the shoulder but in the mind of another character. Zhang was able to develop characters with distinct voices but also seamlessly intertwined their conversations with visual cues. I was never confused about who was talking when.
Another thing that Zhang has done well is "showing not telling". One example is when she used a field trip to the history museum. The scene not only provides the reader with some background information but also Eva and Addie's reactions to what's happened in the past.
A Good Read For: Fans of dystopian who like more family less romance.