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The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Lost Girl
by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl

By: Sangu Mandanna

Release Date: August 28, 2012

Rating: 5 stars

Summary: Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

 

Review: Beautifully written. Captivatingly fascinating. Breathtakingly mind-blowing. Mandanna has created a masterpiece that’s indescribable.

CONCEPT 

The premise of this book is just a bit similar to Beta by Rachel Cohn. But whereas Beta dragged, The Lost Girl was filled with thought-provoking anecdotes and experiences that Mandanna meticulously planned to relate to the overall story. And whereas Beta had a stoic ambience, The Lost Girl overwhelmed readers with powerful emotions of all kind. 

First of all, I love the concept because it’s so different than just cloning someone and implanting knowledge, experiences and memories in their brains. What a complicated system Mandanna has created. Not only do you have the Weavers that create the echo and the nurses and other workers to make sure they’re healthy, but you have the guardians to take care of the echoes, additional guardians like Sean to ensure the echoes can function properly, the sources that gather the knowledge of the other’s everyday life and any additional needed bodies to ensure that the echoes can just step into the place of the other. Wow, how exhausting, yet fascinating that Mandanna has created such a complex situation that involves so much. 

The story wasn’t perfect, and there were some things I wanted to know more about the process. like how the Weavers give the echo a part of the other’s soul and how they are able to share dreams. And in chapter 1, we learn that Amarra (Eva) came to Mina Ma and Erik as a baby, but in chapter 2, Mina Ma told her that her familiars had her created because they could not bear losing her other. So it’s interesting to know that there were not two of everyone running around, but at the same time, how did familiars decide that their INFANT should be cloned and an echo should be created. Why was Amarra created an echo at such a young age? Are there also echoes of Nikhil and Sasha running around? And I wonder if there is an age limit so someone older can be created. Adrian mentioned having created two once, but we never knew what happened to the echo that he kept. But those are just the extra gears turning in my head.

Upon some criticism, I will say this book lacked a bit in the world-building department, but for me, it wasn’t really dystopian. This wasn’t a post-apocalyptic world supported by some oppressed un-utopian government. Honestly, it was pretty much present day U.K. and India with the exception that there is this secret organization that creates these clones. Perhaps elaborating more on the Hunters would give it more a dystopian feel, but outside of the Weaver’s Loom, there wasn’t much need for world-building beyond what we know today, and I have already raved about Mandanna’s Loom.

WRITING STYLE 

The writing was absolutely beautiful, and Mandanna has such a clever way of alluding to such such common analogies like getting a secret out of Mina Ma is like prying open a pistachio or how people’s voices sound like layers of wood, a copper pot or a wild animal. Or even how Matthew compares his echoes to Eva’s wax birds.

But what was amazing to me was that she wrote about anecdotes and fables, and every side tale was symbolic and had a significance – like the experience at the zoo with the elephants or the tattoo of a snake and the vase glass blower. And of course, the most important fable of all, the story of the couple and the mongoose.

And Mandana had a way with words that delivered such powerful emotions, with the most memorable lines being “I don’t mind being childish,” I say. “It must mean I’m a little bit human… I don’t know what it means to her, but it will always remind me of what I am and what I can never be. I’ll hate it… forever.” And that was just a tattoo and what it represented for an echo who wasn’t supposed to be human with thoughts and feelings.

My heart went out to Eva and all of the characters involved. I chuckled. There were a few places I cried. And there were parts that just made me devastated. Please excuse the melodrama, but this book really did elicit strong emotions from me.

CHARACTERS 

How do I even begin to describe Eva? She was a feisty, tough girl who has always been independent, despite what the laws had forbidden. To watch her grow from the sheltered echo raised by her guardians to her compassion for her surroundings when she went to the zoo to her adjustment to her new life as Amarra to her strength as she begins to let the world know who Eva is. I have never admired a character more.

Sean and Ray were both awesome male characters in their own ways. Some readers may resent Ray for everything that he did in this book, but I can totally see where he’s coming from – to be so desperate to have Amarra back that he’s blinded by that need yet to be able to begrudgingly see that Eva was her own person with her own individuality. And Sean who tried so hard to do what he was supposed to do, only to realize that he cannot deny his heart and the loyalty for those he cared about. The end just about killed me because I felt that yearning from a distance from both of them.

And all of the other characters in this book each had their important roles to play. Mina Ma, Erick and Ophelia – especially Ophelia for the position that she was put in. Sonya, Jaya and super kickass Lekha, whom I had suspected all along knew. Neil, Alisha, Sasha and dear dear Nikhill. Elsa, Adrian and the unpredictable Matthew.

And most of all, Amarra herself, who I thought made such a huge, huge impact on this book as a dead person. The way a ghost to be so powerful and so ahead of everything to leave such a haunting memory – that was just pure geniuses on Mandanna’s part.

OVERALL 

I believe I have gushed enough about the brilliance behind this book , and I know, like many, I am just DYING for a sequel. 

I will say that I have NO IDEA what Mandanna plans to do, but I do feel that as much as I would love to see what happens next, I think leaving this as a stand alone and open to interpretation like that would make this book so much more powerful, especially because of the way the book ended. I think adding anything else would just take that message away.

Now I have to go hide from those who are reaching for their pitchforks because they want to know what happens next.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

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