"I'm lucky just to be alive"
Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.
Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.
Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.
One of the main reasons why I enjoyed WHAT'S LEFT OF ME was because I found the plot extremely engaging and suspenseful. I know some readers found that the plot in the first novel was a bit lacking or boring, but personally I really had trouble putting the book down - I wanted to know what would happen next! On the other hand, I found that ONCE WE WERE lacked that same pull. The general storyline was still interesting, but rather than finishing it in one sitting, I found that it was easier to put down than the first.
The other thing I was disappointed in was the world building. As much as I love the originality of Zhang's idea, there's still a little part of me that finds the concept unbelievable. There's a few pages dedicated to an old tale guessing at the origin's of hybrids, but apart from that, I was a bit disappointed that Zhang didn't go into more detail about their origin.
But now that I'm done with the negative stuff, I can get started on the positive! I absolutely loved how Eva and Addie's relationship developed. Now that Eva and Addie have other hybrids to interact with and are able to disappear for a while, it brings up the issue of what Eva or Addie might do while the other's gone, and how Addie might feel about Eva and Ryan. It was really encouraging to see their sisterly relationship survive, despite its ups and downs. Moreover, although I found the plot not as exciting, I still enjoyed the general themes and storyline. Rather than focusing on how to survive and escape the hospital, the plot really focuses on themes of rebellion, and the morals involved with it. If you've read the third Hunger Games book, it feels a bit like that, except at more at the beginning stage. Whereas Katniss deals with the other districts' rebellion, here Eva and Addie take a direct role in raising awareness. This then eventually leads to questions about ethics and such (ie: to what extent should they take direct action), which was what I found really interesting in the storyline.
ONCE WE WERE wasn't as engaging than WHAT'S LEFT OF ME, but overall it was worth the read. Although the plot wasn't as suspenseful, I thoroughly enjoyed Eva and Addie's relationship and the general theme of the storyline. I particularly recommend this to fans of the first book - again, even though the plot isn't as quick-moving, the book was still a great read and a good bridge for the next book.
Ever since Rachael ended up with Nancy Drew book in my hands, Rachael has been obsessed with the written word! Outside of reading and blogging, Rachael also spends time playing three instruments, giggling excessively, eating good food and watching good movies. Currently Rachael lives in Northern California with her family and two rabbits. Visit her own blog @ Moosubi Reviews!