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.
Why I Chose It: I was really intrigued by the idea of two souls within one body, and how the two minds would cope and interact with one another.
Addie and Eva are two souls inside of one body, and I liked about the way this was portrayed throughout the novel. For example, the girls could feel each others emotions, but they could not actually hear each others thoughts. They could have full conversations with each other but as two separate minds with two separate voices. I really liked that they couldn’t hear each others thoughts because it meant they had to have actual conversations, and they could debate and make decisions as a team. This allowed the formation of two cohesive characters that actually had to interact and react to one another, and I liked that I could see the differences between the two girls.
There is a very interesting narrative that happens throughout the book. Eva and Addie feel normal, they love each other and enjoy living together, and yet the world is telling them that they are wrong, sick, that they need to be “fixed.” It creates a lot of emotional turmoil, both between the girls and the world, but also between Addie and Eva, especially because they are not equal. Addie is stronger and more dominant, while Eva takes a back seat to everything. By the worlds rules Eva should fade away, but because she didn’t, there’s a lot of emotion between the girls such as anger, guilt, defiance, and to an extent blame. I think it shows the strength of Zhang’s writing that she was able to effectively show these conflicting emotions and the damage they can cause.
While I loved the premise of the book and the emotional conflict that is present throughout, it was not a home run for me. Some of the ideas in the book felt a little cliché, such as the government-funded “institution” performing experiments on these kids. I think the novel spent too long getting to the institution, and then hatched a half brained plan to escape that felt rushed. The story really should have been about Eva and her return to control, but I felt too distracted by government agencies and experimental doctors to really appreciate her journey.
Zhang’s writing has some incredible strengths. She is able to communicate complicated emotions in a very effective manner, and create character conflict based on the confusion of those emotions. But that integral core to her writing gets lost in the rush of the mediocre mystery and clichéd action that serves as a distraction. This story certainly has interesting concepts, and I look forward to reading more of Zhang’s work because of how much I enjoyed the emotions in her novel. If you need another addition to the YA Dystopian bookshelf, this one is a nice quick read.
Overall Rating: 3 / 5
Representation of Emotions: 5 / 5
Main Characters: 4 / 5
Plot Development/Pace: 2 / 5
Originality/Setting: 2 / 5
“I felt the dark, brooding mists of Addie’s thoughts drifting against my own. Sometimes, if I concentrated hard enough, I fancied I could almost grasp what she was thinking about.” p 33
“But there was a tremor in her voice that matched the tremor in the blond boy’s eyes and the tremor in Lissa’s chin and the tremor in every movement of every child at this table. The undercurrent of fear. A whole tableful of children, pretending we knew nothing, pretending we trusted our guardians. Pretending we weren’t afraid.” p 225
“Sometimes I wonder what that would have been like. If we’d never settled. If we’d never learned to hate ourself. Never allowed the world to drive a wedge between us, forcing us to become Addie-or-Eva, not Addie-and-Eva. We’d been born with our souls’ fingers interlocked. What if we’d never let go?” p 265