Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna - new dystopian book seriesBook Title/Author: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Publisher/Year: : Balzar + Bray – August 28, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: Standalone for now – though the other mentioned on her site that it could potentially be a series later on depending on how this book is received.
Other Books From Author: None! Debut author up in heeeeere!

Amazon| Goodreads | Sangu Mandanna’s website

The Story: The Lost Girl takes place in the future when scientists (the Weavers) have perfected a way to make an “echo” or copy of somebody that would take the place of the original human being, or the “other” as they are referred to, in the event that the “Other” died. The practice is not widely accepted in some countries and is against the law in many others so the echos have to be hidden. The echo’s life is devoted to studying their Others life so intently that, if something happened, they’d be able to take their place seamlessly. They are quizzed on their other’s friends, learn everything they learn at school and even have to get a tattoo or an ear piercing if their Other does it. Eva has been studying her Other, Amarra, for fifteen years and gets her chance to fulfill her duty when her Other dies in a car accident. She must say goodbye to the family & friends she has made and must travel to India to live and convince everybody that Amarra still lives. When she arrives she quickly realizes how hard it will be to BE Amarra amongst a family who has known her for her whole life & a boyfriend who knows her so intimately  — especially when Eva struggles to eliminate who SHE is and fully become Amarra.

The Review: Hands down one of my favorite reads of the summer and actually of the year! I don’t want to declare perfection but OH MY STARS THIS WAS FANTASTIC! It was fitting that THIS novel was the one that I read when I defied all odds and was able to actually read in the car without getting sick!

I don’t even know where to begin with this! My nails would have been down to stubs by the end of this had I not had on fake nails on from the wedding still. This debut by Sangu Mandanna was paced so perfectly that I just lost track of how fast I was reading. There were slow, tender moments and action packed, heart pounding moments that just complemented each other perfectly. I honestly had tears welling up quite a few times because Eva’s story is just so agonizing & poignant — having people think you are a monster or an abomination, having to say goodbye to those you love (especially a boy you are forbidden to love but do anyways), to have no freedom to be who you are, to live amongst people you don’t know and who aren’t quite sure how they accept you, to be betrayed, to have to make some hard decisions for the ones you love. AH. It all just hurt my soul and affected me deeply.

Her whole existence for being was to “start living” when somebody died. Imagine how hard that must be in the midst of all those emotions and feelings when someone passes? I had many questions and doubts to how a family, who knew that they paid for this echo to created, would ever fully believe that the echo was truly their loved one. There was just something so sad to me about the whole thing. A testament to how much we don’t want to let go of our loved ones.

I loved Eva — I feel like I haven’t connected with a character like this in a while. She wasn’t one of those OH HAI I’M SO KICKASS AND I’M GOING TO BE A FREAKING REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. She was smart and she defied the Loom in little ways (by giving herself a name or going to the zoo with Sean) that just were mainly because she was just being HERSELF and letting her own humanity slip through the cracks of who she was supposed to be. They weren’t to BE defiant. She did them because they were part of who she was even though it was forbidden. Later on in the story, I just loved watching how strong she had become and how willing she was to fight for her life as hard as she tried to be Amarra. Some of the scenes at the end were just AWESOME. To be honest, all of the other characters were really great and added so much to the story. I just loved them all and loved to hate some of them.

The love between Eva and Sean just melted my heart. Talk about slow build and fiery tension that wouldn’t subside in my heart. Their love was so subtle at first and it just was perfect and tender but so filled with passion that had been long hidden but brimming on the surface as it is with children who have known each other a long while. AND THEN THE END page or so. OH MY GOD.  It’s a love with substance and it will set your heart on fire. At least it did mine. Loving someone despite who they are, loving someone despite the fact it would seem destined to fail from the start. It’s a  forbidden love that didn’t seem like the attraction was about the fact that it was forbidden.

I also love that The Lost Girl asks questions without being too preachy. If you like a good ethical dilemma weaved into your dystopian/sci-fi novels that simply poses the questions and writes the story in a way that just begs them to be pondered. Human life and it’s value. Is it ok that humans “play God” and can decide when human life “ends” to some extent. At what cost? It’s easy to understand why the parents wouldn’t want to lose their children and would want someone to replace their essence. Hell, I’ve even wished for having a copy of myself so one could do all the boring things and I could go out and have fun. It’s not a concept so foreign. But at what cost? Somebody always suffers and we see that through Eva’s life and her forced existence to be somebody else despite how much her own soul wars within to show through.  The Lost Girl gives you many things to think about while still being a “fun” and bulldozer-through-it type of read.

I LOVED the ending but feel like there is so much potential for another book or two. It ended but you could see how Mandanna could be leaving it open for more of her story. I can see the potential so clearly! KIND OF SPOILERY: Lots more to happen with Sean, what happens when she goes back to live with her familiars, what are the effects for what she did at The Loom, what happens know that the Weavers are starting to come apart at the seams and there are power struggles? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Some tiny areas of concern for me — 1) I did have questions about how certain things worked with the echos and that whole element but I was so sucked into this novel that it didn’t seem to matter to me by the end. I mean, I still had questions for sure but not to the point where it ruined it for me. 2) I also would have loved to experience a little more of the setting — hello, it’s INDIA and I know it’s a metropolitan area but I didn’t feel like I was immersed into this new country and new culture as Eva must have been. 3) The last little bit of the ending felt a smidge rushed for me. There was the climax at the Loom and then things were revealed and decided and then it was the ending. I think a little more of a struggle was in order considering what all had went down. But I still loooooved it.

My Final Thought

Oh Sangu Mandanna, I need you to continue on with this series. I don’t beg for that often as currently I’m feeling bombarded with too many series but this is one of those stories that I just want MORE of. The Lost Girl was truly one of my favorite dystopian novels I’ve read in a while. It stands out amongst the ever growing crowd and doesn’t just give you another interesting world and a moral dilemma but it gives you a truly piercing story full of characters you will love and a romance that shines. A truly standout novel that will not quickly fade from my memory! It had it all for me — great characters, a romance to cheer for, a familiar world yet one that has elements unknown and unthinkable,  action, tension, intrigue, excellent writing!

You May Also Like: What’s Left Of Me by Kat Zhang, Through To You by Emily Hainsworth (out in October 2012), Origin by Jessica Khoury, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (my review)

 

Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? Do you hope there is more to the story in the future or are you happy with it being a standalone? Any thoughts on the ethical dilemmas brought up in this story? Did the last page make you DIE like it made me???

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. I absolutely loved this book, I think this is one I would brave getting car sick over just to finish reading! I know what you mean with all those questions you have after the ending. The one character I really want more of is Matthew, I really want to get to know him better. Great review

  2. well crap, Jamie. I’d managed to mostly leave this one off my radar – content not to know much of anything about it. So what am I going to do now? Go drool over it on Goodreads a little and add it to the TBR list.

    Thanks a lot!

    …and great review :)

  3. Ooh, I’m really excited to read this one! Ever since Tara (at Hobbitsies) reviewed it, I’ve been been curious about it. It’s lounged a little on my TBR since then but since you loved it so much, I may have to bump it up a bit!

  4. “This debut by Sangu Mandanna was paced so perfectly that I just lost track of how fast I was reading” — I think I want to chase that feeling. I’m always on the prowl for a book where you just lose yourself. ALSO ALL OF THE EMOTIONS.

    And word, I am a little burnt on dystopia. I think I only want to read the ones that offer something a little different.

  5. YES The Lost Girl is one of my fave reads of 2012. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Your review is spot on, Jamie. SPOT ON.

    I did an interview with Sangu where she told me some of the deets on her current projects and although none of them are contracted, they all sound awesome! In case you’re interested:

    “None of my current projects are ‘my next book’ (yet) but I’m having a lot of fun working on them. There’s a steampunk ROMEO AND JULIET, a reimagining of THE LITTLE MERMAID (yeah, I know. I seem to find no end of inspiration in the classics), a book about a girl raised by Death, and a time travel romance that I’m probably going to abandon because it’s not working right now.”

  6. This was such a great review!! Honestly this book didn’t really seem like an “Alyssa” book but after reading this review I think you changed my mind!!! When you mentioned about the end page and how it made you FEEL ALL THE FEELS I was reminded of Tiger Lily and how yeah I ADORED the whole book but the last few pages just made my tiny little heart burst through the grinch-meter!! I think I will be reading this one quite soon!

    Also, I have to mention again how jealous I am that you have a new found super power of being able to READ WHILST RIDING IN A CAR!! Sigh, my dream.

  7. Holy heck, Jamie. I have this book & I, too, was kind of like — wee, another dystopian. (very lackluster) and NOW I’m all WEE ANOTHER DYSTOPIAN! :) I love all the things you point out about this — I’m so excited to read about something that makes us question things, our reality. Great review! Bumping this one up.

  8. As someone else who is also completely burnt out on dystopian novels, this review has a lot of leeway with me. The world sounds intriguing, and Eva sounds so completely like a character I’d love. I really like those characters who do things because they have to–it’s who they are, not just for the sake of doing them or pissing people off. I love a slow burn, and honestly, I know you’re begging for a sequel, but the fact that this was written as a stand alone ups it by about 10 levels for me. Thanks, Jamie!

  9. I’m adding this to my TBR list!!! That list is growing faster than I can keep up!!!

    I skipped the comments and part of your review b/c of spoilers, LOL… I can’t wait to read it!

  10. Yayy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I’ve been stalking your blog mercilessly for days now and haven’t gotten the chance to comment unfortunately, but I couldn’t resist commenting on this. I reviewed this one today as well and I have to admit, you say everything so much more eloquently than I could ever hope to. I adored Eva and Sean just about broke my heart. My emotions were all over the place, my tears were staining the pages, and this was just SO good. It really is the best debut of the year for me and while I’m wary of another gut-wrenching installment from Mandanna, I want to know what happens next SO BADLY! Of course, in my imaginative universe Sean and Eva are together, no worries, but it would be nice to have it confirmed anyway! ;) Fantastic, fantastic review, Jamie! I love it and I love your blog and its features too, so thanks for sharing!(:

  11. i DO love agony and angsting (ugh i’m so sadistic!) but hmmm…. not sure if i’m ready to take on such a wide variety of emotions anytime soon. i have been all about the fluff lately. STILL, you have me intrigued.

  12. I have not read a single negative review for this book, EVERYONE seems to be crazy mad in love with The Lost Girl. I *really* must get my hands on a copy quick and see what all the fuss is about, stat!

    “I also love that The Lost Girl asks questions without being too preachy. If you like a good ethical dilemma weaved into your dystopian/sci-fi novels that simply poses the questions and writes the story in a way that just begs them to be pondered.” – I LOVE thinky books; ones that get under your skin and make you reassess your life. And for it not to be preachy? That takes talent which by the sound of it, Sangu Mandanna has A LOT of.

    Absolutely amazing review, Jamie. If possible, you’ve made me ever MORE excited! Sqeeeeeeeeeee!

  13. I just bought this after I was able to interview Sangu about The Lost Girl for my blog back in July and I am so excited to read it! I hadn’t seen many reviews for it yet so this makes me even more excited to pick it up!! Love your enthusiasm for it! :)

  14. I am so eager to read this book. I heard that it was influenced by the story of Frankenstein and that was enough for me to know that it is something I needed to read. But all of these overwhelmingly positive reviews haven’t hurt my desire to read it either. I love a good story that forces people to question morality and see things from an “other’s” point of view. I am also glad that it’s not a series, at least not right now. Too many series. But maybe by the time I read it I’ll be wishing there was a continuation as well. :)

  15. I bought this book and downloaded it on my kindle based on your recommendation and I finished it in one day, I kid you not. I could NOT put this down and it breaks my heart that another commenter said she’s not planning on writing a sequel. I hope that changes.

  16. I have not read this book yet but from the second I saw it on Book Outlet I knew I had to read it. It is currently on the TBR shelf with (*cough* 57 *cough*) other books but I plan on picking it up soon. Thanks for the review :)

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