Kat Zhang NEVER LET ME GO meets HIS DARK MATERIALS in a beautiful, haunting YA debut, the first book in The Hybrid Chronicles.
Eva and Addie live in a world where everyone is born with two souls, but where only the dominant one is allowed to survive childhood. Fifteen years old, and closer even than twins, the girls are keeping Eva, the ‘second soul’, a secret. They know that it’s forbidden to be hybrid, but how could they ever be apart?
When a dramatic event reveals what really happens to hybrids if they are discovered, Eva and Addie face a dangerous fight for survival, neither wanting to be the one left behind
This is a love story. But it is not a romance. Imagine that you have two minds, sharing one body. You and your other self are closer than twins, better than friends. You have known each other forever.
Then imagine that people like you are hated and feared. That the government want to hunt you down and tear out your second soul, separating you from the person you love most in the world.
Now meet Eva and Addie. They don’t have to imagine.
Since reading this I have wondered more than once how it would feel to share my body with another personality or soul; someone that knew me inside out and was constantly there. It’s an amazing and yet slightly chilling thought to be honest! This story is told by Eva, the silent ‘twin’ or soul, inside Addie’s body. It’s a very intriguing premise and I found myself quickly bonding with Eva and Addie as they try to make sense of their world. Both their souls have been born in to one body but they are expected to ‘settle’ after a few years with the more dominant personality eventually taking over and living a full life while the other just quietly fades away. However, Addie and Eva never truly settled. Eva is there in Addie’s mind and her thoughts and never went away. I really felt for Eva, who as the recessive soul, has to take a back seat and just accept everything Addie says and does when you can see that she clearly is desperate to be able to take her place in the world and know the freedom that Addie does. The relationship between them is touching and at times frustrating. Eva always backs down and never forces Addie into anything and yet Addie cannot exist or manage without Eva.
Hybrids, as those who do not settle are known, are in fact the norm the world over, apart from their country where they are considered a threat to society and feared and must be dealt with. There wasn’t enough world building for me to be able to grasp or fully understand why the hybrids are such a danger to society and a bit more explanation would have been great. However this is the first in a trilogy so I’m hoping for more information as the story develops.
The characters are well developed and Addie and Eva’s personalities so different from each other that although the author had to constantly switch between Addie and Eva’s thoughts and voices it was easy to tell who was who. It’s cleverly done. However I did find myself frustrated by them at times and their responses appeared to be immature, more like 11 or 12 year olds rather than the 15 year olds that they are supposed to be.
Addie and Eva are accepting of their situation and the fact that they ‘act’ every day, as they pretend for everyone’s benefit that Eva has gone and it’s just Addie. However they discover that they are not alone, there are other hybrids there with them and that it may even be possible for Eva to speak and move again. But making the choice to learn more leads to putting themselves in a dangerous situation where their lives are at risk.
I won’t give any more away, but I got stuck into this book pretty quickly and had it finished within a couple of days. Verdict: It’s an interesting premise and is well written by Kat Zhang. I’m looking forward to book 2 and how things develop for Addie and Eva. Reviewed by Lesley