ARC Review: “Once We Were” by Kat Zhang

Once We WereOnce We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2) by Kat Zhang

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“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.

Four and a half stars

Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title will be released September 17th, 2013.

WARNING: This review WILL include spoilers for the first book, What’s Left of Me. Read my review for more!

Getting a hold of an ARC of this book became an absolute necessity after reading the first book. When Edelweiss declined my first request, I requested again – basically until they let me have it. I was like a dog with a bone for this book, and with good reason. What’s Left of Me blew me out of the water and then some. Of course, after that, it was impossible to like the second one as much as the first, but the book gave me a good go, anyways!

The book picks up with Addie and Eva and co in hiding, trying to recover from what happened to them at Normand. The gang is still mostly together, with Kitty and Nina, Hally and Lissa and Ryan and Devon all living in the same proximity. Jamie is in hiding with Dr. Lyanne, somewhere unknown. The gang is basically trapped inside Emalia’s apartment, not allowed outside, not allowed any semblance of living. The threat of being brought back is too close. But then Eva and Addie meet a new team of hybrids, ones with ideas a little bit more radical that Peter’s. But will their ideas turn out to be too radical for anyone to live with?

Right away, I can tell you that this book is a lot more Eva-centric than the first one. That made me a little sad, because my favorite moments in these books are when the two girls are working in sync. Of course, the entire book IS told from Eva’s perspective, so it’s only to be expected, but I felt like Addie lost some character development because we couldn’t see what was happening when Eva “went under,” or disappeared to give Addie her privacy. This works into the plot very well, of course, but still. Meh. Several things about Addie’s character arc suddenly seemed tossed into the mix.

Eva, though, does have a lot of growth in this book, both in terms of herself and her relationship with Addie. Her reactions to certain events were heartbreaking, just as other reactions were completely inspiring. Once again, she and Addie let NOTHING keep them down. They just keep going and going, simply because sitting down and taking it isn’t something they’re capable of doing. I LOVE Eva as a character right down to her core and back, just because she’s so real.

The plot of this one wasn’t entirely unexpected, but once again Kat kept me so engaged that it was easy to read the book in two sittings. Once again, the idea of something being RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER kept me on the edge of my seat even when I could guess what that thing was.

One of my few complaints was the amount of character memorization necessary to read this book smoothly. Remembering which hybrid is whose partner was really confusing, especially after not having re-read the first book in a while. I felt like several characters should have had more impact on me than they did (ahem, Jackson, Devon), but since they interacted mostly with Addie while Eva was out, I never got to see them in enough light to really care. This took a little bit of the bite out of the ending, which was unfortunate.

All in all, I’m still extremely impressed by these books. The shear number of hybrids in this book could have bowled over any writer trying to prove each one has a unique personality, but Kat does it so well I can really see the individual people stuck inside the same body. The pacing was fantastic, the plot was good. The romance didn’t overpower anything, even though we’ve got a Host like love quadrangle going on for like 30 seconds. It was action packed and emotion filled – everything I wanted it to be!

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