on August 29th, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
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Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. She was made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her "other," if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away, learning 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 sixteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything and everyone 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.
I had no expectations for The Lost Girl. I stumbled across it accidentally and bought it on a whim. I did read the synopsis first, but beyond that I knew nothing and I also did not know (or so I thought) anybody that had read it.
And it was truly amazing.
Do I believe that having no expectations helped my opinion of this book? YES. Do I think I would have considered it brilliant regardless? YES.
This book won’t be for everyone, for reasons I shall get into, but there can be no denying that Sangu Mandanna is a beautiful wordsmith. She has crafted something very special here. In a way it reminded me of my experience of reading Code Name Verity (have you read that? No? THEN DO SO IMMEDIATELY). They are VERY different stories, but they both hit me out of nowhere with INTENSE FEELINGS and became instant faves that I will shout about forever.
Enough blabbering. I better get on with the review.
Our main character, who lives in Windermere in the north of England (in a remote part of the countryside), names herself Eva. Only, Eva is an Echo. She was created by a Weaver on the Loom, which means that she was literally stitched together using bits (skin, hair, mucus etc.) of another girl named Amarra. In this version of our world, people can pay huge amounts of money to have an Echo created of another person. The idea is that if that person dies, a part of them will live on in their Echo, and the Echo will resume that life.
Echo’s are not supposed to have their own identities, and Eva shouldn’t even have a name. She has been brought up away from the world by her Guardians and she is meant to mirror Amarra in every way. She learns the same things that Amarra learns, eats the same things she eats, reads detailed accounts of her day to day life in Bangalore, and generally exists in a suspended state. She even has to get a tattoo when Amarra gets one. And Eva does all this knowing that Amarra’s family could, at any point, issue a Sleep Order if they decide they no longer want the Echo. A death sentence for Eva.
Of course, the inevitable happens and Eva is whisked away from her life and to Bangalore. She HAS to succeed at being Amarra. Not only for herself, but for the sake of her Guardian’s who desperately want her to be safe, and for the sake of Amarra’s family who desperately want their daughter to live on.
There is so much I can talk about here, and I’m honestly not sure how I can unpack it all.
First I will address those aspects of this book that MIGHT turn you off, though they really didn’t impact me at all. And yes, I’m going to use a list because YOU CAN’T STOP ME.
1. The pace is somewhat slow, I think? This is hard for me to write because I honestly felt captivated from the very first page. BUT if you’re looking for something fast paced and full of action and you’re less into writing that leans towards the philosophical…then this might not be for you?
2. The ending. Now, I’m at peace with the ending. I won’t say much because #spoilers BUT it’s a pretty open ended book. Your questions will not all be answered. I get the impression that sequels were intended, but for whatever reason they did not come to pass. If you’re a person that needs everything to be answered and wrapped up…the ending might make you scream.
THAT SAID I personally felt like it was an ending for Eva at least. Yes, the story could have continued, but I’m also content to simply imagine the future. The big kicker with the ending is the lack of information about the world and the story that surrounds Eva. The idea of the Loom and the Weavers (inspired by Frankenstein JSYK) was so cool and so creepy; I would have LOVED to know more. But alas.
So what made me love this book? LET ME LIST THAT OUT FOR YOU TOO.
1. First of all, the writing is wonderful. The author manages something that often feels poetic, but never overly flowery. The writing is simple, concise, and POWERFUL. Whether the author was setting a scene, describing a character, or digging deep into the complexities of humanity – her words were clear and captivating. You know when the characters feel REAL? You know when the setting changes from the English countryside, to Bangalore and you can FEEL it through the writing? You know when simple sentences still manage to bring tears to your eyes?
That is what this book is.
2. THE CHARACTERS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS OKAY. You have Eva’s Guardians, Eric and Mina Ma. Mina Ma in particular was just the GREATEST. She WANTS the ‘other’ girl to die, and for Eva to be taken away from her – BECAUSE SHE LOVES HER THAT MUCH. It’s just heartbreaking you guys. And then there is Matthew, one of the Weavers, who is THE MOST intriguing and mysterious.
What about over in Bangalore?
Well, first you have Lekha who was just such a nice surprise. I LOVED her quirky little mannerisms. They might bug some people, but I thought they were adorable.
Amara’s family? UGH. IT’S SO COMPLICATED YOU GUYS.
You have Sasha and Nikhil who KNOW that Eva isn’t their sister, but they love her anyway. Then you have Amara’s parents and my god, sometimes they will make you angry but…HAVE I MENTIONED IT IS COMPLICATED? They are good people that lost their daughter, and they want to believe that Eva is her. But can they? SHOULD they?
And what about Raj, Amarra’s boyfriend? Again, there will be moments where you want to hate him. But can you? He’s grieving too. IT’S JUST SO EMOTIONAL.
How about Amarra herself? You don’t actually meet her but she’s a part of every page. This poor girl spent her whole life noting down what she was doing, sharing every detail of herself with a stranger across the world. She hated it, she resented it. And then she DIED. I weep for her, truly. But can you blame anybody for the choices they made? SHOULD YOU? I don’t have the answers, honestly. And I think that’s a bit part of the magic of this book.
3. The romance is incredibly understated, but I LOVED it. Eva is only fifteen (I think?) but you can absolutely understand why the feelings between her and Sean are as intense as they are. This is a forbidden romance that never becomes overwrought. Like the writing style, it’s simple and it’s effective. The romance compliments everything else, without ever becoming the be all end all. And that’s my favourite kind of romance.
4. THE CONCEPT IS JUST REALLY COOL YOU GUYS. It totally sucks that there won’t be a sequel, but that doesn’t stop it being gripping and creepy and thought provoking.
Honestly, I had tears in my eyes 90% of the time. And they weren’t always sad tears. Sometimes a line or a scene would just hit me in the feels and I became emotion.
5. Eva is the best. She tries SO. HARD. in the most impossible of situations. She has found joy in her life, despite her restrictions. She FIGHTS for her life too, and I LOVED that. She never gives up. She is forced to face so many fears and horrible situations, but she keeps going and fighting and pushing. My heart ached for her.
In summary, The Lost Girl is a wonder and you should ALL check it out. Even if it doesn’t sound like your usual read, give it a go. It isn’t MY usual read and I am, was, will forever be SUPER in love.
AND the author’s next work is going to be a SPACE FANTASY. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? It’s like she knew I was going to become her number one fan, and wrote it specifically for me. SO GET ON THE TRAIN NAO.