I should not exist. But I do. 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 ²t they settling? Why isn ²t 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 ²t .... For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she ²s 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.
First in the Hybrid Chronicles, Zhang's debut novel, set in a xenophobic alternate America, is narrated by 15-year-old Eva, who shares a body with her "sister," Addie. The girls are a "hybrid," with Addie controlling motor function and acting as their public persona. They live in a society in which hybrids have been forbidden for decades. "Settling"-allowing the dominant soul to assert itself- is mandatory, so Eva's existence must remain secret, even from their family. Soon after Addie and Eva meet two other hybrids, they are all in danger of being discovered and taken away for treatment. Addressing issues of identity, ethics, and choice, Zhang's concept is original and provocative; the deep bond between Eva and Addie (the shifts between I, we, and she in Eva's narration are especially haunting) and the mystery about why their society is so desperate to "fix" hybrids are riveting. An abundance of questions remain, even after Zhang's well-orchestrated nail-biter of an ending. Zhang's singular premise all but guarantees that readers will be eagerly awaiting those answers in the next installment. Ages 13-up. Agent: Emmanuelle Morgen, Stonesong. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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September 17, 2012
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