Book 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!
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!
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???