by Sangu Mandanna
Balzer + Bray
Pub. Date: August 28, 2012
Book received from: Purchased
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ Speculative Fiction
Cover: I like that it tells a story all by itself. Also, as one reads the book, it becomes more fitting to both the feeling and the story.
Characters: Loved them. So much depth- there was no character that fell flat. It was even easy to empathize with the ‘bad guys,’ who weren’t exactly in the wrong.
Tagline: Her life begins when another one ends
Quote: “But maybe that’s what the dead do. They stay. They linger. Benign and sweet and painful. They don’t need us. They echo all by themselves.”
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Worth the read? Absolutely. There was so much going on beneath the surface that is unexpected.
From the Cover: 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.
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.
The Short & Sweet of It: I was no expecting much out of The Lost Girl, as it went relatively unnoticed upon its release last year. But, I figured I would give it a try when I saw that there was a read-along over at The Flashlight Reader. And so the journey began- and what a journey it was. First off, I will say that I rarely cry while reading (besides the obvious troubles with blurring the words and what not). I am more the kind that thinks, ‘Well, that sucks quite a lot now, doesn’t it?’. But, I must admit, that this book had me crying more than once. Not a blubbery mess, but well, you get the idea. There is just so much emotion that pours off the pages that it is quite impossible not to react in some way- if you are not dead inside, that is.
One aspect of The Lost Girl that stands out among a good part of the YA right now is that it is not a white American girl/guy that is telling the story. Eva’s culture and upbringing comes in to play throughout the story, although in subtle ways so as not to alienate readers who are not too familiar with East Indian culture. Even Eva herself must become accustomed to a different culture, having been raised elsewhere. It is nice to have a bit of multicultural discussion in a YA book.
I find it most surprising that this is Mandanna’s debut work, as the writing is stunning and matured beyond that of most debut authors. The Lost Girl manages to tackle some pretty hefty issues as we follow Eva/Amarra through her journey to becoming who she is- or who she is supposed to be. The different ways people deal with grief, loss, humanity, love, friendship, personhood, identity, honesty, and so much more is eloquently dealt with without ever forcing an opinion in any direction. Each character is a representation of more than one side of each issue, and are perhaps some of the most real and human characters I have seen in a book in a while. (The only reason that I did not give this a full 5 stars is the friendship she develops with Lehka fell a bit flat for me, given the depth of and attention to all the other characters.) When an author has the ability to have bad guys that aren’t really bad, but rather possessing a different set of understandable motives and evoke empathy from the reader- well, that is perfect writing.
The parallels with Frankenstein are prominent throughout the story, and are not ignored by the characters within. This is, in effect, a retelling of sorts. Only, the monster is no monster at all- at least on the outside. There is just so much going on beneath the surface of the main story that it is difficult to express how evocative this story is. The writing is beautiful, sad, quite, and forceful at the same time. There is a sense of quiet urgency to keep reading, and as you hope for one thing to happen, you realize that there are so many more possibilities. Even in the end, we are left with the possibility of more than one ending, more than one life for Eva.
This is sci-fi, but it is very human. This has romance, but it is about independence. This is fantasy, but it is very real. Will there be a sequel? I don’t know, but I sure hope so. If you want a read that will stick with you and surprise you, this is sure to be the one.
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