Rummanah Aasi
  Sangu Mandanna's debut novel, The Lost Girl, is a provocative and page-turning thriller/romance that gets at the heart of what it means to be human. Using similar themes of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, the story is wholly original and one that is not easy to forget.
Description (from the publisher):  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.

Review: Eva doesn't have a right to her own life. She is an echo, a carbon copy of a girl named Amarra who lives halfway across the world. Eva is created as a back-up plan for Amarra's parents in case Amarra dies. Eva mimics Amarra's life, she learns everything that Amarra learns and is even nearly forced to suffer the same physical injuries as her other. Though the concept of clones isn't breaking new ground, what makes The Lost Girl stand out is the exploration of the psychological aspect to Eva's character, since it's not just Eva's organs that are being harvested, but her entire entity and identity.
 The Lost Girl is a novel that sits uneasily along the genre lines of dystopia, science fiction, and speculative fiction. While it contains elements of each of these genres, the world of echoes and their creators called Weavers take on a somewhat mystical and mysterious manner. The book never really delves into how the world came to exist. Like some of Bradbury's stories, we are shown human beings who find themselves in extraordinary futuristic circumstances instead of a technology driven setting that drives humans. I know some readers may be disappointed in not knowing much about Weavers and the utterly creepy setting of the Loom, but this didn't bother me at all. I was thoroughly captivated by the characters of this story and it didn't deter me from enjoying the story. 
  Mandanna's writing is exceptional, thoughtful, and beautifully descriptive, deftly balancing seriousness and humor, just like her characters. Eva is a heroine that I loved from the start. She finds herself in a horrible circumstance, but makes the best of it without losing her dignity and constant persistence. Unlike many heroines that fill our pages with noble self-sacrifice, Eva refuses to give up her inalienable rights to have a life and a place in society regardless of how he kind is perceived. She is rightfully selfish, but also aware of the dangers she puts her loved ones while she goes an incredible journey. 
  Though the plot of The Lost Girl is a bit of a slow starter as it is divided into three sections. The first section introduces us Eva as Eva without any strings attached. In this section,  we see Eva as a reflection of our humanity. Her connection to her family, a collection of people who are not bound to her by blood but by their concern and love for her, and her guardian/best friend/love interest Sean are explored. Each of these members reflect a different aspect of Eva's personality. The pace of the book quickly picks up in the second and third part of the book, where we see Eva on display and acting out her duties as an echo. Our hearts ache with her struggle and we are horrified at all the hurdles she must jump and conquer. I completely admire Eva's tenacity, her drive, and in this very rare instance her impulsiveness to not stay quiet.
  I hadn't expected to enjoy The Lost Girl as much as I did because I've been on a dystopian burn-put lately where all the book seem the same. There are a few aspects that I wish were given more time to develop such as the settings of London and Bangalore as well as further development of some really intriguing secondary characters. The Lost Girl gave me much to think about while being cathartic. The characters and premise asks us unsettling questions, but ultimately it is a story about love, grief, death, and above all what makes us human. I'm very eager to see if Eva's story continues and what else Mandanna plans on writing.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing scenes and a scene of underage drinking. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Afterschool Charisma manga series by Kumiko Suekane, Unwind series by Neal Shusterman, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Children of Men by P.D. James
6 Responses
  1. Annette Says:

    I've been on the fence about this one -- didn't add it to my list until I read your review. I'm a bit worn out on dystopians too -- but I have some contemps and other genres lined up to fix that! Great thoughts.


  2. I really adored the writing as well, but I struggled a bit with the concept. Her parents' behavior didn't make much sense to me, I'm afraid. Otherwise, this book was absolutely fabulous and exciting. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


  3. Lauren Says:

    Oh I just love the sound of this! I'm a huge fan of Unwind, The Adoration of Jenna Fox and Children of Men, so I need to buy this immediately it would seem. Like you, I've been a bit burned out on sci-fi/dystopians lately, but this may be the book that gets me out of my slump. I love when these sorts of books have beautiful writing and ask thought-provoking questions. Amazing review!


  4. Oh, so glad to know how good you thought this one was. I have it to read, just haven't had a chance. You've given me a lot to think about as I read it.

    Heather


  5. Candace Says:

    I have heard a lot of good things about this book but it's been awhile since I have read a review, so I liked the reminder of how awesome people are saying it is. I think I'll have to try to read this one this year. Fantastic review!


  6. I've seen so many great reviews for this one but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm wary of dystopians too but this one seems really well written. I love that the clones in this one are created not for physical reasons but for more psychological ones. I can't even imagine being forced to mimic someone else's life!


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