Thursday, 13 February 2014

Review: Once We Were by Kat Zhang

Once We Were by Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles #2
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Order: Amazon | Book Depository
Goodreads Summary

"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.

“Everybody’s got sad stories.” Devon’s voice was as ungiving as stone. “And everyone thinks they’re so very special and broken because of them.”

I read What’s Left of Me back in 2012 and fell in love. I read Once We Were in 2014 and fell out of love. What’s Left of Me became a favorite of 2012 while Once We Were became a disappointment and it makes me wonder what went wrong? Was it me? Or was it the book?

I think the answer is both to a certain extent. One of the things that intrigued me in the first book was the hybrids. I was drawn in by this new spin on souls. It was so different from what I had read before and while some of the details concerning the concept bothered me, the uniqueness of it all made it easy to overlook things that didn’t work. In this book, the shiny gleam of originality wore off and I started to get really bothered by the idea of two souls in one body. I couldn’t wrap my head around it and it made no sense to me.  It was so HARD to imagine these hybrids. It seemed so weird and some things didn't line up for me as a reader. I felt like the idea hadn’t been as well thought through as it should have been because it was so DIFFICULT to wrap my head around. I'd be lying if I said it was easier to understand the concept of hybrids in the first book, but the problems with said idea really nagged at me in this book, making it harder to enjoy.

Eva was a character whose name reminded me of Wall-E who really shined out to me in the first book. Her struggles were realistic and her journey was a joy to experience. In this book that went down the drain. She read as a na├»ve girl who in spite of everything she had faced earlier, learned nothing. She, although not selfish, was incredibly self-centered. She never really bothered to ask how other people felt and went along with whatever she thought was right, dragging her sister and her close friends into her mess. She blindly followed other people because they were obviously ‘right’. It was disappointing because hadn’t the last book taught her anything about how much you can trust people? Character development didn’t occur until the last 20% and by then it was too late. I thought she had had it (referring to a certain event) coming and felt no sympathy for her.

Addie was annoying as always. She is a major hypocrite. She makes it impossible for Eva to have a normal relationship with Ryan for the first third of the book and then gets pissed when Eva freaks out about her relationship with Jackson. Oh and Eva feels guilty. For the most part though, Addie is very subdued. Not in a good way though. She acts even more childish than Eva (and throws tantrums).

The romance is very light and honestly, I don’t give two shits about the romance. It seems too awkward to me. I mean you’re making out with a guy but the guy’s brother and your sister can feel you making out and it seems so weird *shudders*. I am not sure a romance was even a good idea in this case. There was something brought up in the book that would make these romantic situations more bearable but I think that would negate the whole ‘point’ of these books. Hybrids aren’t defects, they’re ‘normal’, so doing what was suggested would be implying otherwise.

The plot was my biggest problem in this book. Where the first book had been doused with the element of danger, something I as a reader LOVE, this book hadn't been. Of course, that isn’t to say they weren’t in danger, I just didn't feel the danger. I wasn’t sitting on the edge, I was roaming around taking breaks because I was bored out of my mind. The plot of this book is basically stupid teens trying to start a revolution. Emphasis on stupid because none of them even think of the consequences and are surprised when things don’t go as planned. When I say everyone, I mean even the ‘kids’ who were older. Who should have been smarter but they weren’t. An eye for an eye isn’t actually a solution; it just makes both sides half blind and also provides some truth to the government’s claims about hybrids being dangerous. I can understand their rage but they are adults. They should know better than to let their rage control them. Their experiences should have matured them even if it turned them into rage beasts out to get the government.

At this point, I am so turned off by this series that I am not even sure I want to go through with it and read the last book. The ending does leave room for improvement but the idea of hybrids no longer appeals to me and is hard to wrap my head around. When I cannot even accept the building blocks of this series, I am not sure continuing is a wise idea, even if I really want to. 


  1. Oh no! This makes me sad, because I liked the first book. I haven't read your whole review since I haven't gotten around to reading this one yet, but 2 stars makes me worried. Maybe I will wait until book three is out before proceeding.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  2. I liked the first book too! Which was why I was so disappointed. Most people I know didn't enjoy it all that much either even though they liked the first so I imagine it cannot all be me :/

    Yeah I think the 3rd book will be better but I am just not sure whether this series is for me anymore :/


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