First in the Hybrid Chronicles, Zhang’s debut novel, set in a xenophobic alternate America, is narrated by 15-year-old Eva, who shares a body with her “sister,” Addie. The girls are a “hybrid,” with Addie controlling motor function and acting as their public persona. They live in a society in which hybrids have been forbidden for decades. “Settling”—allowing the dominant soul to assert itself— is mandatory, so Eva’s existence must remain secret, even from their family. Soon after Addie and Eva meet two other hybrids, they are all in danger of being discovered and taken away for treatment. Addressing issues of identity, ethics, and choice, Zhang’s concept is original and provocative; the deep bond between Eva and Addie (the shifts between I, we, and she in Eva’s narration are especially haunting) and the mystery about why their society is so desperate to “fix” hybrids are riveting. An abundance of questions remain, even after Zhang’s well-orchestrated nail-biter of an ending. Zhang’s singular premise all but guarantees that readers will be eagerly awaiting those answers in the next installment. Ages 13–up. Agent: Emmanuelle Morgen, Stonesong. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012 Release date: 09/01/2012 Genre: Children's
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