Title: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher (Thanks Sarah!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Buy locally: Fully Booked
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.
Eva has existed within the confines of Amarra's life. For she is her Echo, a girl created by the Weavers for the sole purpose of replacing Amarra in the event that she dies. What Amarra studies, she learns. If Amarra gets a tattoo, she gets one. She knows every single detail of Amarra's life, who her friends are, her boyfriend, what she did on a particular day. Eva tries to live the same life as much as she can. There's no escaping it. It's a routine, what she's destined to do. But Eva longs for more. For freedom to be herself. And she might have to pay for it with her life.
A girl who has been sheltered all her life, longing for freedom. I loved how she found her strength through what she has experienced, that she can also be tough when needed. I have never been this responsive to a character as I was with Eva. All the while I felt like a bystander who cannot do anything but see her through her story no matter how difficult it becomes for her. Here is a girl who can never be her own person no matter how much she wants to. It's a lifetime she dedicates to replicate that of another person. It's a sad fate. She's a living entity, she feels, she thinks and she deserves to live life like everyone does. While I was reading about her I kept on thinking how it wasn't her fault to be born the way she was. To be hated, criticized and beaten for being someone who can ease the pain of a family losing a loved one? Is it a sin? Does stepping on Amarra's shoes and continuing on with her life can be considered as stealing? Eva's existence itself sparked an inner debate inside of me on what is right and wrong. Eva's existence wasn't normal, artificial, unnatural, but the purpose she serves is good. But is it enough? Is the reason good enough for someone like her to exist? It's a question that plagued me constantly, but it didn't stop me from sympathizing and liking Eva.
Life as an echo is difficult. Eva's role does not start when her Other's life ends. It started the moment she was born, when she was fashioned to be as similar as possible to Amarra. When you think about it, Eva was left to deal with the most difficult part of losing someone: the aftermath, what happens next. All the pain, the guilt, the anger, the sadness and the loss are emotions she had to fight with everyday. I was appalled with the treatment she got when she replaced Amarra. It's complicated and difficult to make people understand that she was not there to steal Amarra's life from her but to provide relief for those who cannot bear their loss. There's a thin line between taking over one's life and continuing to exist on her behalf. It might sound the same to some, and that sparked a lot of rage and violence that was thrown in Eva's way.
Ray and Sean are both intriguing characters that played such integral parts on both Eva and Amarra's life. They're the anchors on which both girls are tied to, and sometimes they are the ones who kept both girls going. Ray's character was very complicated compared to Sean, as his took so many shades of darkness and at times through those dark moments you see a sliver of something good beyond his pain and longing for Amarra. The decisions he has made provided a shaky foundation for his character, and he's still taking shape. Is he a friend? Foe? Can he even be considered a love interest for Eva? What does Ray sees when he looks at Eva? Sean on the other hand is the steady and constant source of strength for Eva. The good boy, like a knight in shining armor always there ready to sweep Eva off her feet in times of distress. I've had enough of reading about good boys, but Sean provided the much needed reprieve and comfort Eva needed, it's a relief to read about him. That there's still someone who's still capable of being kind to her.
Sangu Mandanna's provided a great backdrop for such a unique story. She has woven Bangalore's sights and India's culture into Eva's life in rich detail, a perfect contrast to her British upbringing and it helped expand the story quite a lot and gave it a more exotic feel. The Lost Girl also had quite a lot of characters that plays such important roles in the story. Mina Ma, Eric and Ophelia will make their way into the readers hearts as Eva's Guardians and the things they do for and taught her. Another one of the fascinating points of this book is how layered the story felt. It had so much in it, a lot of complex relationships and complicated situations that holds the story together and yet there was never a moment where I was confused or felt saturated with the conflicts it presents. It was not just about Eva and Amarra's life, but also those of the people around her. The Weavers had their own story, a shared secret past that connects Eva to her creator in ways that are yet to be revealed. Also, the author did not attempt to 'destroy' Amarra's presence just so Eva's character would matter. It was the opposite, as Eva had to live with the actions Amarra has made and the emotions that she has kept well guarded in the things and memories she has left behind, and it gave the book a very convincing and dramatic effect. Amarra's influence, the life she lived was like a ghost that haunted Eva.
While the world building wasn't perfect, it was enough to draw readers in. I would love to feel that dystopian aspect of the story a little bit more, and not just the sci-fi part. There's still much to learn about the Weavers, and the world where they exist is still vague. The concept of creating an Echo is something new and intriguing in itself; it's that different, seemingly complicated way that sets apart the story from other books, and I hope more will be revealed in the process of creating an Echo and not just mentioning how they are 'stitched' together.
Despite those little faults, I found myself hugging this book so hard when I finished reading. The Lost Girl just filled me with a jumble of overpowering emotions, all of which touched my heart deeply. It's so beautiful. An overwhelmingly creative story. One that urges people to think, think very hard, and evaluate the value of a human life and how to live it. Debut author Sangu Mandanna has written an emotional, unforgettable tale of one's girl's struggle to just live as herself, to have an identity to call her own and feel how it is to be human, to love and be loved.
Sangu Mandanna, you are brilliant!
Content (plot, story flow, character):
Content (plot, story flow, character):
I am curious to know what happens with Eva in the next book!
Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!
Gorgeous, appropriate representation of Eva and her life as an Echo.