Because he was a criminal.
For being hybrid and free.
For putting others in danger with his very presence.
First of all: Brava, Ms. Zhang, brava, for coming up with this unique concept. Two souls inside one body, one destined to fade away? That's impressive. I must say, this concept is so strong, so promising, it left me with too high hopes. Yes, I'll say that: it left me with too high hopes.
I will take a moment to explain some things before explaining that last sentence.What's Left of Me will appease a certain kind of reader while it will leave others unsatisfied. When everything comes around, this is a dystopian work of fiction. It's set about 150 years in the future where two souls are born into the same body. When a child reaches an age around 8-10 years – I think it said - one of the souls will fade away. There is one dominant and one recessive soul, and it's logical that the recessive soul will fade. But sometimes they don't. Sometimes the recessive soul will stay inside the body, but without power to move or speak. It's basically just a lingering presence that can communicate with the dominant soul.And this is bad, because these unsettled bodies, also called hybrids, are a danger to society. And here's the thing: the concept is never explained. It's never explained what makes these hybrids dangerous. It's never explained why people see them as dangerous. It's never explained what these hybrids are, or more accurate, what these souls are.
While Zhang does a wonderful job distinguishing the main characters, Eva and Addie (two souls in the same body), as well the other hybrids, there are so many other questions about this. For one, is the souls an object you can remove? Or are they more an abstract part of the person? In this novel, it appears it's the former. Because they can surgically remove a soul. But if that is the case, that they're solid things, it opens even more questions. For one thing, after 150 years of working on ways to get rid of these souls, why isn't it working properly now?Okay, you can say these things takes time, and you're right, it does. But let's take another minute to think about where in time we are right now. We're in the revolutionary time of technology. Research indicates that there will come a time within the next 100 years when mankind can transfer its mind to a computer. So yes, excuse me for not believing they haven't found a way to 'take care' of this big problem of theirs if it's something you can remove with a surgery.
And you know what, I'm tired of being negative now, so I want to change subject. Because I love these characters. Eva, the recessive soul, is so haunting in her close top hopeless situation and her dreams, you can't help but feel for her. At the same time, Addie, the dominant soul, is touching in her own way. She is the one that has to live with Eva, literally, in the back of her head. The dynamics between these two are, dare I say it? perfect. They are nothing of the stereotypical heroine I've come to associate with these days dystopians. They're both strong in their own way, yet flawed. They don't whine and are ready to take responsibility. These are the kind of characters I wish would be in more books simply to give youths these days proper heroines to look up to. The characters in What's Left of Meis what makes this book's story.
Let's go back, not to negativity exactly, but more of an explanation. What this book lacks in general, is worldbuilding. As mentioned before, there's no explanation to the background of these hybrids and why they're so dangerous. I believe that this is what will down this rating for certain readers. Some might not need the extensive worldbuilding, while others need it. (I'm the latter, by the way.) The brief backstory of the fear of hybrid will appease some, and some others not. And yes, it's brief. As in, only there to give any kind of reason without actually giving a real reason. Also, I think some people might be more interested in the ethnical aspect of this story, and then willing to give the lacking worldbuilding the shrug. I appreciate the questionings worth thinking about being brought up by this theme, but not enough to give me any higher rating. My three stars are for the relationship between Eva and Addie, the fast moving plot, and beautiful prose. It is far from bad, it's slightly better than good, and definitely worth the read despite my issues with it.