Once We Were by Kat ZhangTuesday, December 24, 2013
Author : Kat Zhang
Genre : Dystopian
Published Date : September 17th 2013
Pages : 352
Publisher : HarperCollinsSource : Publisher, in exchange for a fair and honest review
From Goodreads :
"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.
The first book of this series actually did not really make me go speechless or gaping or feeling whoa or anything. It actually kinda feel flat. But since the whole concept of this story totally won my heart, even though the first book of this series was kinda so-so, I still found myself reading the second one. And, well, glad to say : Lots of improvement there, people.
If the first book deals with Addie and Eva hiding their hybridity (Is that even a word?), this second books focus more on accepting the fact and working toward the best future they could have, with two people sharing one body and different wants. Tricky, yes, but that was one of the thing that actually made me love this book more.
Because really, how can I resist a story about such a complicated problem? It's not like Eva and Addie can sever themselves from one another. But it's also no fun when the other one is kissing her crush while another watch. And yeah, just imagine if they get into a relationship or even married. Who will they marry, Eva's boy, or Addie's? Oh, choices.
One thing that also shows a lot of improvement was the way Zhang build the tension on her story. The stake was higher, the problem seemed real, the condition was easy to relate to, and it actually succeed in making us believe that their problem really actually matters.
The pacing is, unfortunately, still slow as ever. But here's one thing : it shows some improvement, at the very least.
The ending, though, was quite great in my opinion. You know those kind of book where the ending is totally ambiguous for the sake of piquing reader's curiosity, but instead give us those "What am I reading this hundreds pages book for if there's no conclusion" feels? Good thing it didn't happen with Once We Were.
It still makes us curious about what will happens next with its cliffhanger, but at the same time still managed to make the readers feel satisfied as well.
But, while the tension building seemed to have improved a lot, there's also some flaws that still haven't changed in this book, which is : Name mentioning. Yay. Again.
The problem is still the fact that the side characters name were like, dumped all at once in the beginning, and then just stays names throughout the story. Names only, with no real description on how they looks like, or what their traits or personality is. And with the hybrid issue where you have literally two people inside you, the changing name of the character can be quite annoying and confusing as well.
Moving to our main character, I actually kinda loathed Eva in this book. Sometimes she's smart and really thought of something before actually doing it. But sometimes (Or lots of time, actually), she could be really really stupid and making unnecessary problem which turns into a disaster, while in fact, she could avoid it altogether.
But one thing I do love about how Kat Zhang treated her characters was that she gave almost everyone a crucial role. They all served a purpose, and wasn't there to just exist and fill the space. They actually did something meaningful, and it's really nice and realistic to see that the responsibilities were not given to just one people but rather lot of them. Like, in real life, no one is that mighty to do all this and that and a bunch of other things all by himself. And Zhang really give that touch of realness to this book, which is a plus point for me.
Overall, this book is not really a mind-blowing or amazing read to me. While it was indeed way better that the previous one, it still had the same mistakes at some places. But if you're looking for a dystopian novel with a strong concept that will left you even more curious than before, topped with a solid tension building and problem with a realistic touch to it, this book could be one of your try.