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The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl
by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl

By: Sangu Mandanna

Release Date: Augustus 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:

Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident. It is as common as life.

– Henry David Thoreau

I have to admit, I was not hooked from page one. I even put the book aside for a few days. Yeah I know, unimaginable. I don’t know if it was me or the book though, so in this case I’m going to use the line “it wasn’t you, it was me”. When I picked it up again, some days later, the story had me entirely captivated. I swear, if anyone would’ve come near me and my E-reader I think I would’ve growl, maybe even bitten.

I still don’t know how to categorize this book because apparently it’s not really dystopian (sorry not a pro). But to be frank I don’t care. This book is so much more! Indirectly, Mandanna  kept throwing questions to my head. Mainly questions about life and death, which -even now, days after I finished the book-keep haunting my thoughts.

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.”

– Grace Hansen

Eva, Amarra’s echo, was created -“stitched” by a weaver- so she can replace Amarra if one day something happens to the latter, something life-ending. Can you imagine yourself living your life waiting until someone dies? And when you get the change to replace that person, it’s just that, a replacement. Living the life of someone else. Pretending you are someone else. Or will the pretending stop after a while? Will it become your own life?

While the weavers are searching for a way to refine echo’s,  Eva is still an “imperfect” version. She has her own feelings, opinions, thoughts, her own dreams and desires. She proofs she’s an individual by giving herself a name. In my opinion that is Eva’s way to stand up for herself, to go in against the ridiculous laws and to give the middle finger to the Loom.

I admired how Eva tries to search her own identity but also accepts her place in life without complaining. And although she accepts her fate, living the life of someone else, she fights for her own life the moment it is threatened. What made me sad is that although Eva spends years to prepare herself to take over Amarra’s life, it doesn’t feel good when it eventually happens. It is said that the life of an echo starts when the “other” dies, but I believe Eva already had a life. It is obvious that her guardians genuinely love her. My heart went out to all of them when Eva had to leave to start her life in India.

Once in India, although the start was not easy, everything is not that bad. I liked Neil. He is down to earth, sober, and tries in his own time to get to know Eva. Sasha and Nikhil stole my heart right away. I was touched by how they accepted Eva so easily and gave her the chance to be herself around them. I believe all of them, even the mom who so desperately wants that Eva really is Amarra, are capable of giving Eva a place in their family. And with that it might even be possible that there is a life for Eva in India after all.

“How terrible it is to love something that death can touch”

– Unknown

I guess you can say that Alisha and Neil turned to extreme measures out of fear to lose their children one day. At first I didn’t really care for Amarra, but I think that’s normal considering I lived the story through Eva’s eyes. But while reading, questions slowly started to make an entrance inside my head: what would I do if someone is waiting for me to die? Waiting to take over my life, my family, stealing my boyfriend and friends. Would I just accept that? Writing in my diary like a good girl, tell my copy everything? And that’s when I started to understand Amarra and her repulsion for Eva. Cause although my heart hurt for Eva when I read about the sleeping order, I understood Amarra’s reasoning behind it. The only thing that I might blame Amarra is that she never tried to talk with Eva, try to see past the monster, just like Nikhil does with his echo. And this is exactly what makes Mandanna’s writing style stand out. The author is capable to let you feel so many things at the same time and to sympathize with all sides and not just Eva’s. Let’s take Ray for example. When he snitched to the hunter about Eva, I was furious. I thought that Eva started to grow on him, that they were finally becoming friends. Maybe I even saw a tiny chance for more. So how the hell could he do that?! Then realization, and with that understanding, sunk in. Knowing that Ray did it because he loved Amarra so deeply and he was convinced he could get Amarra back that way, how could he refrain from trying? Wouldn’t you try to defeat death to get your loved one back?

To be honest, the world Mandanna created frightens me. The idea that there is somewhere walking an exact copy of myself doesn’t make me feel comfortable (and I’m sure I can easily find some other people who don’t like the idea of a second me either…).

But in the end, I don’t know what scares me most: being an echo and have to wait until your “other” dies to fulfil your only truly task in life: take over their life. Or being born as a “normal” person but to be afraid your whole life that something bad might happen to you because there’s an exact copy of yourself lurking somewhere, waiting to take everything that’s yours.

To conclude there is the ultimate question : sequel or no sequel? The main reason why I would say definitely! is because I loved this book so so much. The writing Mandanna does is so beautiful and captivating that I just want more. And there are still some unanswered questions and things that can be explored. The ending gives room to use your own fantasy and in general I don’t like open endings. The reason is simple: it can drive me entirely mad not knowing what will happen. For me, when it isn’t written then it isn’t there. My own fantasy isn’t good enough. BUT in this case I’m in doubt. I will definitely get more closure if a sequel gives me a “real” ending. However, I’m quite sure that one of the reasons why this book keeps haunting me is the open ending, the not knowing for sure. I keep speculating what will happen now. Will Amarra’s parents accept Eva for who she really is? Will Eva and Ray try to have a relationship? And if so, will it work? Will Eva stay with Ray because she wants to and not because it is expected from her? Can Ray love Eva for Eva and not because she’s all he has left of Amarra? Or is a relationship between those two bound to fail and will Sean and Eva find a way to be together?

Because of all those questions I still have, this book keeps invading my thoughts, and isn’t that exactly what makes a book so exceptional and memorable?

Go to Lis’ review on Goodreads.

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