Publication Date: September 17th 2013
Source: ALA Annual 2013
Genre: Fantasy/Alternative Universe
"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.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, What's Left of Me, and when I had a chance to pick this book up I knew I had to give it a shot. This was one of my top picks from ALA, and I had some high hopes for this book. Unfortunately this book did not deliver in the way that I hoped it would. This book ended up feeling quite pointless, and nothing worthwhile seemed to happen. However, I still have hope that my hopes will be redeemed later in the series.
I love how the world is built in this series. I love how Kat Zhang was able to come up with such a unique, intriguing sort of alternate universe, in which people are born with two souls in their body, with the recessive soul dying off in most children- those with two souls being called 'Hybrids'. In What's Left of Me the story just touches on how this world is put together, and in Once We Were the world is explained in much more depth than before. Though it's quite an unusual world to understand at first, it is the story of an alternate united states, in which Hybrids are taken to hospitals in which they are experimented on, ad in some cases left to die. This world became clearer and it was easier to understand how the world got to that point, and it was quite fascinating to be able to learn more about the history of that universe.
There was a lot of character growth in Once We Were. Now that Eva has control of her shared body with Addie at times, she now has the freedom to become whoever she wants, and now that she has control of her life she has to decide what she wants, and how she will get there. There is a lot of growth in the relationships between characters too, now that Addie and Eva have to learn how to live their lives sharing time in the same body, with their own needs, emotions, and interests. They have to learn how to trust each other in their interesting situation.
The downfall of this book was that there wasn't really a point to it. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking- How does this change anything? This series is about a revolution, and this book felt like a bit waste of time to me. I don't know how anything that happened in Once We Were can ignite an entire nation to rebel. Everything that occurred in this book caused chaos in a city space level. I don't know how the series can go from this to a revolution.