The Lost Girl
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.
The Lost Girl has been sweeping in praise, and I can see why. Sangu Mandanna's debut is a mature, beautiful story with philosophical resonances. She touches on what it means to be human and on the nature of creation. This is a book that makes you think about the world, and what it would be like if it were just a little bit different. Though The Lost Girl didn't quite cross the border into being a story that I absolutely love, I can confidently recommend it to anyone who appreciates a thoughtful, introspective story with a bit of action.
The world herein depicted differs very little from the modern world in which we live. The only real difference is the existence of the Weavers and their Loom. Modern-day Frankensteins, not of name but of occupation work there, building humans from dust and bones. These Weavers create Echoes, copies of real human beings, insurance policies of a sort. Purchase an Echo of your beloved child and you will not have to worry about her death, because you've got a spare raised in secrecy by Guardians to know the intimate details of her life.
The process is not explained in detail, and I do admit some skepticism about how the Weavers are able to create physically identical human with the ingredients Mandanna relates, but this really doesn't detract from the story. The idea of the Echoes is less of a scientific venture than a philosophical one. What does it mean to be an Echo, to be intended to be someone else? Are they human? Do they have souls? Are they individuals? Should they have rights?
The heroine, who names herself Eva, is the Echo of Amarra, the eldest daughter of a wealthy family in Bangalore. There's no doubt that Eva is her own person. She enjoys pursuits that Amarra does not, like art, and loves a boy that Amarra does not. Amarra and Eva both resent the intrusion of the other. Eva's presence cheapens Amarra's life because she feels expendable, and like she has to share everything with Eva; Eva exists only to be an imitation of Amarra, and has to squash her individuality, her desires, her ambitions. Their relationship and the way that only one of them can truly, openly exist at once has echoes of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I rooted for Eva to get a chance at life. She has so much spirit and such a strong will to live, but she has no right to life if she doesn't follow a strict set of rules, and, even if she does, she could be killed for any number of reasons. Somehow, though, I never really connected with her or the other characters, except perhaps for Amarra's charming little brother Nikhil. I'm not really sure what was missing for me there, but that disconnect I felt kept me from completely loving the book.
My only other concern is the very end. The very last chapter made things a bit more cut-and-dried than I would have liked. I thought Mandanna was going for an unclear ending, and she does in a way, but she tied up one arc with a neat little bow that did not fit with the mood of the rest of the book. For the kind of book that The Lost Girl is, the vaguely happy ending sounded a false note for me, though I imagine most readers will thrill to it, particularly if invested in the characters.
The Final Verdict:
Sangu Mandanna is an author to watch. Her debut is powerful, beautifully-written, and full of moving philosophical questions on what it means to be human. The Lost Girl is a great read-a-like for Kat Zhang's What's Left of Me.
When I first started this book I was a bit confused. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the first few pages, but I'm sure glad I kept reading. Eva is a very unique character. She was stitched together by a Weaver to be an 'echo' of a girl named Amarra, an exact replica of her. She is not allowed to have her own dreams, her own goals, she has to essentially be Amarra. Eva has to learn everything Amarra learns, read everything Amarra writes, experience things Amarra does. Yet she is not allowed to just live her own life. How intense is that? Eva doesn’t want to just be Amarra’s echo, she wants to live, to be her own person. But if she does that she faces being unstitched, which essentially means she will no longer exist. I was completely sucked into this book. I could not imagine how horrific that would be to be created just to be someone’s replacement. *shutter*
I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that Amarra dies and Eva then has to live Amarra’s life. She has to make all Amarra’s friends and family believe she is Amarra, or she could be killed herself. I mean seriously, how stressful would that be?! I could not put this book down. I needed to know what happens to Eva. I absolutely loved the beginning of the book, where Eva is sort of living her own life. Well, she’s not free, but she hasn’t replaced Amarra yet. I loved her relationship with her caretaker, Mina Ma. What a beautiful relationship the two have. Mina Ma is like the southern grandma you always wanted. She is strict with Eva, yet loving, giving and kind. I also enjoyed Eva’s relationship with Sean. I loved how real their relationship was and I felt so sad when Eva had to leave them all to become Amarra. To make matters even worse, she wasn’t allowed to contact them at all. She was literally all on her own and had to leave her past life completely behind. The emotions this book brought out in me surprised me. I was so mad for Eva. How unfair her life was and she was treated so poorly because of what she was.
I enjoyed the twists in the book and didn’t see them coming at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m really looking forward to the second book. Great debut novel by Sangu Mandanna. I’m looking forward to reading her future books!
Before I started, the concept seemed a little confusing, but Mandanna handles it well an it all ended up feeling pretty natural. Although, for some reason I had it in my head that the book was set in Victorian times so I was rather confused for a while and it took a bit to convince myself otherwise.
Eva is a strong character who I found easy to like. She cares so much about all the people around her that she'd do anything for them, yet she refuses to be the sacrificial lamb. Instead of saying "I'll stay if you let them go" and quietly taking what comes, she says she'll stay with absolutely no intention of doing so. I like that despite every crappy thing that was thrown at her she continued to fight for her right to live.
I really liked all the different relationships. Yes, romantic relationships play a role, but I wouldn't say it's the main focus. There's also Eva's relationship with her familiars (the parents of her original) as well as everyone else from Amarra's life. Not to mention all her relationships with her Guardians. It was nice to see her grow from her obligated like for Amarra's family into loving them.
I do have one complaint, though. I know Mandanna fleshes out the Loom pretty well, but I wanted more. I never quite understood the Loom or it's history and I desperately wanted to. I was also really fascinated by the process of stitching and creating and I was hoping to get a look at that. To be fair, I think the reader's understanding of the Loom is similar to the general population's (of the book) understanding of it: an idea that's a little blurry around the edges.
The Nutshell: All in all, is a good read. I'm normally a plot girl, but I really enjoyed the focus on Eva's relationships. I found myself constantly wishing she would spend more time with this or that character.
Mandanna’s prose is undeniable good. She writes this story with refinement and skill. I, however, found the rambling, expansive patterns of her writing style to be boring and unengaging. It was something like riding down a river an an inner tube—I was half awake, just along for the ride. I’m not actually a big reader of action novels—I’ve never read an “action scene” without skimming in my life. However, I think there needs to be something in an author’s prose to grab me and, unfortunately, I did not find it in The Lost Girl.
Really, I felt similarly about all of this book. Eva’s struggles were interesting, and they had depth, but I found myself yawning through them. The plot twists were surprising, but I couldn’t muster the emotion to care. The end was, well, bittersweet and memorable, but I didn’t care. Really, I just couldn’t bring myself to care very much about The Lost Girl. It’s different and complex and well-written, with a character I could root for. But I didn’t care.
I don’t know exactly what it was that was so lacking in this book. Reading positive reviews from my friends, I readily agree with everything they have to say. Yet this book didn’t touch me on the same level as it did them. Something—I’m not sure what—was missing. Maybe it’s because I was never (and will never be) interested in Frankenstein?
In any case, I found that I did enjoy The Lost Girl to a certain extent. As I said, Mandanna’s prose is lovely, if overly dense, and Eva was a wonderful protagonist. I enjoyed watching her adjust to some situations, though I found the final few chapters to be somewhat at odds with the earlier passages of the book. It is an interesting concept, for sure, though I think it wasn’t explored quite as well as it could have been.
I do recommend The Lost Girl, though it’s not a particular favorite of mine.
It's going to be hard to pinpoint what I loved about this book. Was it the amazing setting? Probably. I've never read a book set in India, so it was interesting. But that's probably not what had me turning the pages for hours. Maybe it was the characters? That could be it. Eva was amazing. Sean made my heart smile. Ray made me seeth with anger. Amarra's parents broke my heart. Ophelia made me cry. And there were so many other characters that had me running an emotional marathon. It's too hard to summarize the complicated relationships in The Lost Girl. Just know that they will grip you and you won't forget them.
But if I had to pick one thing that really spoke to me in The Lost Girl, I would say it was the highly original plot and story line. I am SO glad this was the book for the first read along on my blog! The discussions that stemmed from this story were amazing. The author is certainly talented (and that's such an understatement). There were so many symbols and quotable moments. Everything was poignant and almost philosophical in nature. I love that in a book! One thing that I thought of while reading (and relates so well to another of my favorite YA books) is the idea of 'what is a soul'. If you have read Neil Shusterman's Unwind or UnWholly, then you know this debate. Well, The Lost Girl gives it another spin that sparks a great debate. It's a modern Frankenstein with so much heart! (no pun intended... ok, maybe a little) You could analyze this book for hours!
You need to read The Lost Girl. Your friends need to read The Lost Girl. Then, you need to get your sister/brother/mom/dad/grandma/neighbor's dog to read The Lost Girl so you can all sit and discuss its amazingness.
Someone that is created to live the life of another person after that certain person dies.
Eva's whole life, her whole existence is practically dedicated to this.
Whatever Amarra (Eva's other) learns in school, Eva has to learn to.
Whatever movies Amarra watches, Eva also has to watch.
(Keep in mind that Eva & Amarra are in completely different countries)
Amarra gets a tattoo? Eva also gets one!
Everything Amarra does, Eva also has to do!
Becasue when Amarra dies, Eva must take her place to ease the greif of her friends and family.
Except, Eva isn't Amarra and will never be.
She may be considered an "abomination" but she has feelings, she has a personality. And that makes her different than Amarra.
The problem is that when people see Eva, they see a monster.
They don't see a person with feelings, they don't see a human being.
But Eva is human, although very few realize that...
I know that I seem to be going off on tangents but this was an AMAZING story about what it means to be human and I recommend it to EVERYONE!!
In The Lost Girl, Sangu Mandanna weaves together a story of love,loss and freedom,the kind that every living person has.Taking figments of ideas from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and then using them to create concepts of her own,the author does a truly wonderful job in writing a stunningly original debut novel.
What impressed me the most was the way she used Shelley's ideas to make her own new ones instead of just doing a complete re-telling of Frankenstein.Trust me,I have seen enough classic re-tellings gone wrong so from this aspect,The Lost Girl was actually a ray of hope to the new trend of modern re-tellings.
Yet,I wasn't so sure about the narration of the story during the time when the setting was in Bangalore.To other readers it might not mean much but as a native of the Indian subcontinent,I must admit that this felt a bit...um,how do I put it,unoriginal(not sure if that's the right word,though). Instead of making all of the narration in English,she could've mentioned that all the talking was being done in Kannad(that's what they use in Bangalore,right?). The only time she pointed this out was when Eva was paying off the rickshaw pullers.But then again,this might have made it even messy so maybe not mentioning it was the right choice,though I'm not so sure.
Also,if the author thinks of writing a sequel(which would be an awesome choice ;) ) maybe a bit more Indian-like names should do the trick?I'm not sure about Sasha,Neil and Amarra.They don't sound very Indian to me.Ray's off the hook since he happens to be half French ^^.Maybe she could use mine or even my nickname Dhara.(Shamelessly self-promoting)It'd be so cool to have my name in a book!Eeep! XD But anyways she'd better think about writing a sequel because if she leaves this as a stand-alone she's going to break my heart for giving such a sneaky ending to the story.
Now just to make everyone jealous,I'm going to admit having an autographed hardcover of this book thanks to Pam@Jellylovesbooks and Sangu Mandanna herself.
So if you haven't read this yet,I'd suggest you to run to your nearest store to grab a copy.It'd definitely be worth the money. :)
"The Lost Girl, filled with unexpected twists and tough decisions (and two sexy boys who don't want to want the girl), provides a captivating read which you can't put down till you reach the last page."-Maliha,bestie and classmate who borrowed the book.