by Sangu Mandanna
August 28, 2012
Balzer + Bray
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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.(Taken from Goodreads.)
I remember being in town with Mina Ma.
My Take On It
I'd not heard of The Lost Girl before discovering it at Around the World ARC Tours. But after reading the synopsis, I was intrigued. Guys, I am SO glad I signed up for this book, it turned out to be an amazing read, full of age old questions that make you think while entertaining the heck out of you all at the same time.
As you can surmise from the above synopsis, this is the story about a girl. A girl who was not born, but "stitched" together, created to serve as an echo, a copy or clone, of another girl living half a world away. The setting is London, and we are introduced to Eva, who is actually referred to as Amarra, the name of her "other", the girl she was engineered to replace should she ever die unexpectedly. The first half of the story chronicles Eva's life as an echo. She lives isolated from the world, a world that shuns the creation of echoes like her, who sees them as soulless shells. A world that has outlawed their creation in many countries, and where fanatical zealots called "hunters" only mission in life is to track down and kill echoes who they view as an abomination.
But, as it turns out, Eva is not soulless. Eva is not a robot, programmed to replace someone, she is a living, breathing teenage girl who has thoughts and emotions and a desire for her own identity. And Eva, though isolated for her own safety, is not alone. She has a group of people who have been tasked with her care, people who have grown to love her as their own child. Eva's "mother" for all intents and purposes is Mina Ma, an Indian woman who has raised her since infancy. And there are other "Guardians" in her life that she loves and who love her in return: Erik, Sean and Ophelia. But even as Eva grows in a loving, albeit controlled, environment she is constantly being trained and tested in case she ever needs to fill the role for which she was created. And going in, you know that at some point, this is going to happen. At some point, Eva is going to have to leave everyone she knows and loves behind and move to a strange country to replace a girl that has died, the girl that Eva has spent her whole life studying and emulating. She's going to have to move into her home, sleep in her room, live with her family, attend her school among her friends and her boyfriend, and be expected to live this dead girl's life without anyone, save her family, knowing she isn't really her.
So, at this point you can tell that this book asks some big questions. Questions about humanity, questions about death and grief and loss. Questions about identity and self worth. And it looks at topics that are relevant today: bio engineering, cloning, medical ethics, and the creation of life in a laboratory versus life in a womb. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a major topic in this book, and the parallels between Eva's story and the story of Frankenstein's "monster" are obvious. In fact, Frankenstein is the one book that Eva and all echoes are prohibited from ever reading. Why? Well, what happened in that classic work? In the end, who was the monster, really?
It may seem far fetched, and it may seem unrealistic to think anyone would actually consider it, but can you imagine a world where you, as a parent, could take a little bit of your child's genetic makeup and have another being created in case you ever lost that child? You might say "no," but really think about it. And what if these "Weavers," the scientists who can work this magic, told you that this echo would have enough of your lost child in it that it wouldn't be a replacement, but your actual child given a second chance at life? As a mother I cannot imagine the loss of my kids. Would my grief rationalize such a thing, creating a living breathing person for the sole purpose of giving me back my dead child? See what I mean? Pretty heady stuff.
On the other end is the character of Eva, who like the rest of the world, questions whether she even has a soul, and who wants her own life, her own identity and her own freedom to choose who she is and who she will love. Woven into The Lost Girl is another element: love. Eva falls in love, but because she is an echo, she cannot act on it, it's forbiden for her have somebody in her life, not when she might have to pick up and leave that life at any moment to go live another. Guys, the love story between Eva and Sean is abosolutely beautiful and gut wrenching. I don't think that I have ever cheered a couple on more than I did them. I so desperately wanted them to be together and have their happy ending.
This book is not only thought provoking but a roller coaster ride of emotion. There are really no bad guys in The Lost Girl, there are some people who are not so nice and there are people who are totally misguided, but there wasn't anyone in this book that I didn't feel sympathetic towards. I felt for Eva and Sean and her surrogate family when they lose her. I felt for Amarra and her parents and siblings who have lost their child and sister. I felt for Amarra's boyfriend and her friends when they discover the truth, that Amarra is gone and this girl who looks like her and sounds like her is really a fraud. My heart hurt for all of them. I don't know that I have ever read a book that has produced this kind of response from me.
So, as you have probably guessed, I LOVED this book. I loved that it made me think and I loved that it made me feel. It is a powerful book. I am SO impressed with this debut work from Sangu Mandanna. I believe (and hope) that this is the first work in a planned series. It does not end on a cliffhanger, but does end on an open note. I would be brokenhearted if this is the end because I have become so invested in Eva's story. And I truly, truly hope that this book gets the respect that it deserves. It worries me that I hadn't heard of it sooner because I don't want to see it fall by the wayside. So hurry up and discover it for yourself. The Lost Girl releases in just eight days, READ it:)
Check out author Sangu Madanna's website HERE and read the first chapter of The Lost Girl.
Check out more reviews of The Lost Girl
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