What’s Left of Me // Kat Zhang
Children are all born with two souls in this alternate reality. Both souls take turns controlling the body’s movements as the child grows and learns. One soul always becomes dominant, however, while the other soul fades away until it is only a memory. Eva and Addie are different; they never “settled.” In their society, people who still retain both souls are considered dangerous and labelled hybrids. As the two girls, trapped in one body, struggle with their individual identities, they must also make the outside world believe there is only one soul inside.
When their secret is revealed, they are snatched away by a secret agency that runs tests on hybrids in an attempt to “cure” them and force one soul to recede. As the horrors that face hybrids come to light, Eva and Addie decide to take matters into their own hands and find a way to escape.
This is book one of a planned trilogy called The Hybrid Chronicles.
In Darkness // Nick Lake
Shorty is a Haitian gangster who has just been buried in the rubble of the massive earthquake of 2010. Toussaint l’Ouverture is a freed slave who becomes the leader of the Haitian revolution , which began in the late 1700s. Both Shorty and Toussaint are faced with extreme violence and poverty. Shorty must run drugs and carry a gun in order to survive the gang warfare of The Site in Haiti while Toussaint finds himself with a duty to free Haiti from the oppression of the French.
Shorty’s narration takes us back through his memories as he grasps the last remnants of life underneath the debris of the earthquake. His twin, Marguerite, was taken from his family when they were only children. In Haiti, being a twin is considered very good luck. Shorty makes it his life’s goal to find and rescue his sister. This goal, however, leads him down a dark path. As he lies in the darkness, contemplating his life, he feels a spirit, or a soul, enter into him and he finds himself teetering between time and space.
In a bizarre ritual meant to call down the spirit of war, Toussaint finds himself entwined with a soul, not the god of war, but rather a much younger soul, called back from centuries in the future. He takes it upon himself to lead the slaves of Haiti to freedom.
Both of these novels feature two souls inhabiting the same body, but that is where the similarities end. What’s Left of Me is a dystopian story, featuring the struggle for identity despite an overbearing government. In Darkness is a raw depiction of street life in Haiti mixed with the retelling of the Haitian Revolution. What’s Left of Me definitely has a targeted demographic; it reads like many of the popular young adult dystopian novels out there. Zhang does a wonderful job of weaving together two distinct personalities who inhabit one body, but the story never goes much deeper than that. Nick Lake’s In Darkness may not be 100% historically accurate, but it is an intense, emotional story that brings a number of themes to the table and could appeal to a wide variety of readers.