Zhang takes an ordinary America, with no changes in lifestyle or technology, and adds one twist only to it. Everyone is born with two personalities - souls, to use the book's terms - with one soul eventually fading away in a process called "settling." The American government has told everyone that hybrids (people who are still two souls in one body) are dangerous and unstable, and anyone who does not settle by the age of 10 is taken away for "therapy."
Addie and Eva Tamsyn didn't settle. By age 12, they had gotten good enough at pretending that they were one person that most of the time it didn't matter. But at their new middle school, another hybrid catches on, and invites them to reinvigorate the fading Eva. The plot unwinds into government conspiracies and laboratories from there.
I have to complement Zhang for twisting the plot exactly opposite from where I thought it would go. The biggest of the revealing moments was both challenging, and at the same time eroding of my belief in the story. Because the story was so focused on Addie and Eva, Zhang made too much of an assumption that we would fill in more of the iron fist of dictatorship that we really never saw the characters experience. She didn't spend enough time on the totalitarian information control by the Government to make me believe that the American public didn't know...
I picked it up from an Unshelved drop-in titles advertisement.
I recommend it to girls who wish they had an identical twin, fans of psychologically-based dystopia (1984, Total Recall), and YA girl literature readers.
Books for 2013