All Things Urban Fantasy's Reviews > Once We Were

Once We Were by Kat Zhang
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Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

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.

Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex
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Reading Progress

05/16/2013 marked as: received-for-review
09/18/2013 marked as: read

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