Monday, 16 September 2013

Review: Once We Were by Kat Zhang

Title: Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2)
Author: Kat Zhang
Release date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: eARC
Pages: 244
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 great follow-up to What's Left of Me. I love where the author is taking the story, and there was a lot of character development in this book. We really get to know all the characters pretty well, and I felt like I could relate to quite a few of them. Though I had a couple of issues while reading, on the whole I found this one enjoyable.

What I didn't like was that for the most part, this book is pretty slow-paced. There was a lot of waiting around, and I felt restless. I wanted something to happen, you know? It definitely picks up later on, though. But I still feel like this novel fell into a bit of middle-book syndrome. I really hope the next book will pick up the pace!

In Once We Were, we're still in Eva's perspective, and we get to know a lot about what she thinks of the current situation. Eva and Addie, Ryan and Devon, Hally and Lissa - they're all in hiding along with their rescuers, almost all of whom are hybrids, too. We get to know these new characters in this novel, and learn to differentiate them. This book is more about the personal attitudes of the hybrids, and how differing opinions between two souls in the same body can cause quite a conflict.

I found it strange that I liked Eva a lot more than Addie in What's Left of Me, but switched around in this book. For the first half, anyway. Now that Eva has gained control over her body, she's decided she wants to make her own decisions, and unconsciously pushes Addie to the background, disregarding her opinions. I really felt for Addie in this one. She's had to deal with a huge change, where she has to relinquish control half the time, and the fact that she isn't hell-bent on revenge like Eva is causes a few arguments between the two.

I'm glad that we get to know Ryan and Devon a lot more. I really love Ryan's character. He's sweet and supportive, and I think he makes good decisions. He's also amazing with any sort of technology, which is a rarity in this world. I liked that the souls in hybrids have learnt to 'disappear' sometimes, to give the other one privacy. This means we get to see Eva and Ryan together, alone! These few snatches of privacy they have are rare, so they make the most of it. I surprisingly found myself liking Devon more in this book, too. He's still enigmatic and aloof, but we do get to know him a little bit more, and that was great.

I have to say I'm not a fan of the new hybrids introduced in this book, except for Jackson maybe. Well, Jackson was in the previous book too. I did like him most of the time, though I didn't get to know his 'other half', Vince, at all. In fact, I realized this for most of the hybrids. We get to know one of them pretty well, like Sabine and Cordelia and Jackson, but I couldn't differentiate them from the other soul inhabiting the body. I wish the two souls were more different, like with Ryan and Devon or Eva and Addie, so there would be a stark contrast.

There is a lot of discussion about 'doing the right thing', which I thought was really intriguing. It made me think about what I would do if I were in their place. Would I want to take revenge on the people who destroyed so many hybrids' lives, or try to save as many innocents as I can? Several things in this book shocked me, and I loved the way Kat Zhang depicted the scenes so realistically. You can tell she knows her characters really well, and there's a definite depth to each of them. Even though I may not agree with the actions of some of these hybrids, I understand them, and can even respect their choices.

I don't want to give away much of the plot, so that's all I'm going to say on it. Keeping it vague is the best way I can keep my mouth shut! Once We Were builds up a climax for the next book, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where this series is going. The action scenes are intense, and the shockers left my heart pounding. Even though this isn't at par with its predecessor, it's a beautifully-written sequel, and I'm impatiently awaiting the final book.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing an ARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Great review, Richa! I've been meaning to read this sequel I liked book 1 but I don't remember much from it :S Too bad about the other hybrids in this one I hate when you have a hard time distinguishing between characters, nevermind between souls that could get all kinds of confusing, too. Sounds like it was a pretty decent sequel though! :)


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