Once We Were
by Kat Zhang
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Excerpt: No | Book Trailer: Yes
Reviewed by: Kate | Source: Edelweiss
"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.
ONCE WE WERE is a wonderful follow up to WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, with twists and turns that kept me glued to the page for hours. The second book in The Hybrid Chronicles, ONCE WE WERE follows almost immediately after WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, with Eva and Addie in hiding, and goes from there. While the world continues to be fascinating and the concept original, it did take a little while for the story to get off the ground, but once it did, I was definitely hooked.
Having two personalities, two people, sharing one body is probably one of the more interesting science fiction premises I’ve read. It is so foreign to me that it was hard to wrap my head around – a few times I had to mentally liken it to conjoined twins, who have two different brains but are always together. At least with Addie and Eva, one or the other has the ability to “step away” for a bit, leaving the other alone and in control. That is something we didn’t see much of in WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, and adds a twist to the story, since Eva is our narrator, we start to lose the periods of time when Addie is in control completely. It doesn’t create an unreliable narrator situation, per se, since Eva still tells the reader everything she knows- but she doesn’t always know everything.
ONCE WE WERE is not only a thrilling story, but it also brings up some interesting underlying concepts and questions. Something I felt came up frequently was the concept of a fluctuating right and wrong. Where does one draw the line when it comes to supporting their cause? How far is one willing to go? Obviously, in a made up world, it may seem easy to create distinctions, but in ONCE WE WERE, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Characters who do “bad” things are not necessarily bad or evil, or Eva and Addie do not think they are bad, and then the reader is left to make their own conclusions. Frequently, we encounter young adult dystopians where the line between black and white is so clear, and it is refreshing to have a bit of a blurred gray space for the reader to ponder.
I have a feeling I will be thinking about ONCE WE WERE for a long time after I’ve finished reading it. Eva and Addie’s life and world are an intricate creation that even though the story flowed smoothly while I was reading it, the more I think about it, the more there is to digest and wrap my head around. Certainly, it is a delightful read on multiple levels, for the action and the exciting story, but also for the thought-provoking issues that it brings up.
- What’s Left of Me
- Once We Were
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About the author
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