Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: Once We Were by Kat Zhang (ARC)

"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.

Sequels are usually never as great as the first book. But Once We Were is one of those exceptions. Of course it wasn't perfect (nothing is), but I enjoyed it much more than What's Left of Me.

Again, the thing Kat does best is the actual writing and prose. Just as in What's Left of Me, it's so elegant and pretty and just really well done. I love reading her words, and everything just flows so well. There's a beauty to the words and sentences she writes and forms.

But anyway. I think that the plot moves much faster in Once We Were, although it's mostly towards the end (again). But what made this different was that I found the beginning/middle-ish to be more character based, allowing us to learn more about the new characters and gaining a deeper understanding of the characters in What's Left of Me. Yeah, it might feel slow, but at the same time, it's enough that you're not bored. And then everything happens so quickly at the end that you just want to keep reading! I also found the ending to OWW much more satisfying in that it was more cliffhanger-y than the first (in the best way possible).

Going back to the character-driven plot idea...I loved seeing Ryan/Devon and Eva/Addie struggling with differences between themselves (I suppose...I mean, they're sharing the same body). It shows how complex the situation with hybrids are. And I think it helped us to learn a lot more about their personalities. I'm still a bit iffy on Addie, but I understand her a lot better. I did find the amount of Devon to be lacking, but I suppose that part of it is also that it's told from Eva's perspective.

One of the few things I didn't like so much was the introduction of so many characters in such a short period of time. It took me almost the entire book to figure out which two names went together with the same person. Some characters that I deemed to be important didn't seem to be. And a lot of them felt very one-dimensional, probably as a result of there being so many of them. But I get it. If it were real life, it would probably be very much like that. You can't know everything about everyone. It was just really confusing, and Eva/Addie and everyone else seemed to catch on a lot faster than I could.

But really, I did love the action, especially towards the end. There were a bunch of plot twists that I should have seen coming because of the foreshadowing but didn't, and it was a really fun and quick read. I wanted to stay up late and finish it all in one night, but that wasn't possible. It really sets up well for the third book, and while you can tell it's the middle book, it isn't in a bad way. I personally liked this over the first book, which is often pretty rare.

If you liked What's Left of Me, you'll really enjoy Once We Were.

Rating: 4.5/5
Once We Were will be released on September 17th. You can pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and The Book Depository. You can also find the book on Goodreads.

You can find Kat Zhang on Facebook, Twitter, her official site, her blog, and at Pub(lishing) Crawl.

~~Thank you to Kat and HarperCollins for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way, shape, or form paid for this!~~

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