The Lost Girl
by Sangu Mandanna
Published by Balzer + Bray
on August 28, 2012
"I have a routine that doesn't change much. I study a girl far away She's the original to my copy. She haunts me. Everything I do depends on her."
My summary: Eva has always known that she's a copy, a back-up, a contingency plan. Created by the mysterious Weavers, Eva is the Echo to Amarra's Original. Eva was made at the request of Amarra's parents to take their daughter's place in the unlikely event that anything were to happen to her. But when Amarra dies in an accident, Eva must travel to a new country and assume a new identity. Amarra has friends, siblings, a boyfriend, all of whom Eva has to deceive. She'll also have to face her own lifelong feelings of inadequacy, her fears of vigilante groups who think Echoes are abominations, and her longing for her former self. Before long, she'll be running for her life.
My thoughts: The Lost Girl is one of my favorite reads of 2012! Inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Lost Girl poses questions that are both timeless and timely. Can love transcend death? What is the nature of personhood? How fixed is identity? Can science find a way to defy mortality?
Part sci-fi, part folktale, part coming-of-age story, The Lost Girl is a story of impressive depth and subtlety, a story that's a pleasure to read but also keeps you thinking long after you've turned the last page. As modern science makes advances like cloning and the creation of artificial body parts, the questions posed by this book are relevant and fascinating.
I loved Eva. The recent popularity of dystopian fiction has made tough-as-nails heroines all the rage in YA, but Eva has a quiet strength and resoluteness that I found deeply moving. Every character in the book felt spot-on, from Sean, Eva's forbidden love, to Mina Ma, Eva's surrogate mother, to Amarra's grieving family and boyfriend.
"I pretended to love them for so long, and somewhere along the line, it stopped being pretend."
Much of the plot revolves around Eva's adjustment to her new life. Not only is she literally stepping into another person's shoes, she's living on the other side of the world. Eva was created and raised in England, but after Amarra's death, she goes to live in Bangalore, where Amarra's family lives. I loved this post-colonial, cross-cultural aspect of the book, loved the setting, loved how the author wove a folk tale about a mongoose into this Frankenstein-inspired story.
For those of you who crave romance and suspense, this book has plenty of both. Not only are echoes are illegal in India and hunted by vigilantes, they can also be terminated on request, so Eva is always one step away from oblivion. Suspense, forbidden love, strong characters, beautiful writing, a thought-provoking premise -- I can't think of any more I could ask for in a book. I highly recommend this one!
P.S. I'm giving this book away as a choice in my Back the Books giveaway. (You can also win Defiance by CJ Redwine or Nerve by Jeanne Ryan.) If you haven't entered,you can do so by clicking here!