Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 28th, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Source: This is a guest review by Heartless Lyn.
Blurb: “It’s a funny sort of word to use at a time like this, lost. You lose your keys. Your phone. Your favorite pair of shoes. And often you find those things again, days or weeks later, under the sofa or buried at the back of a closet. But it isn’t quite the same for a lost life. A lost girl. Can you find those things again?”
Eva lives in a world where human copies are produced to replace a person if they should die–an “echo” of a real person. Eva faces a difficult life as she learns how to mimic and become Amarra, an Indian girl she was created for, but has never met. She must learn to love a family from another country, enjoy the same foods and clothing as Amarra, and be prepared to love the boy who stole away the other girl’s heart. Deep in her own soul, Eva dreams of living her own life with her guardians in the English countryside.
When a tragic accident ends Amarra’s life, Eva finds that she was not prepared or ready to tackle the role of living as another person. Eva finds that the difficult task of deceiving Amarra’s friends, and the love of her life, Ray, causes her own spirit to shatter under the false lie that she lives. Amarra’s final wish threatens Eva’s very existence, and the echo soon finds that she must fight for a chance to live and convince her creators, the Weavers, that she is a real person while hiding from a fanatical group of people who wish to kill her kind, the Hunters.
Eva tries to remain true to herself, and when everything starts to unravel, Eva fights to stay alive, and win her life from the one man who can save her.
Review: The Lost Girl had me hooked from the description–Never Let Me Go meets contemporary YA fiction. Mandanna delivers a powerful, emotional, and highly energetic story, the start of a strong entrance into the world of authorship.
The majority of the characters in the book all seemed wonderfully fleshed out, imperfect and real. Eva was the idealistic flawed main character. Her multi-dimensional characterization helped drive the heart of the book–the essence of a human being. Without Eva’s ardent self exploration, this book would not have made the connection necessary to support the dramatic, physical and introverted struggle faced by the characters. Sean, Lekha, Nikhil, and the guardians all offered a wonderful reinforcement of the strong emotional connection to the serious topic presented in the novel.
The setting of the book took us into the heart of India to Bangalore. I’ll note here that I am beyond thrilled to see another book step out from the Anglo culture. Mandanna’s glimpse into the real social setting of India, from street vendors to the Indian school year, gave her novel a wonderful insight into another culture. I wish that there were more descriptions and daily events of the lifestyle in the book.
The story and the themes of the book drew off of some iconic materials. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the 5 little ducks nursery rhyme assist in fleshing out the central theme of the book. The interpretation of Shelley’s story set the stage for a twisted view of Frankenstein’s monster as the victim instead of the antagonist. Eva struggles with her own personhood, and a book arguing for the monster instead of against it makes a strong connection on what makes one a monster and what makes one a real person. Outside of man-made life, the topics debated in the book were grief and internal identity. The subject of grieving was a powerful punch in the gut.
Some of the elements in the story seemed very muddy, murky, or out of place. The first issue I encountered was the tattoos on the necks of the echoes. In certain countries (India being one of them), echoes were illegal. This didn’t stop the Weavers from marking the echoes with tattoos. This created a huge plot hole in the book. If it was illegal, then why did the police not check victims of potentially fatal accidents for a tattoo? Why would the Weavers gladly give the echoes a permanent mark that could possibly place them in danger? No doubt the police had to investigate the accident that killed Amarra. Unless the family had an inside connection, I think that this was a fact that could not be overlooked. Also, I felt that the ending of the book was not properly explored, explained, and downright made little sense. It felt very forced and unbelievable. The ending was not a happy ending, which I was sadly able to handle, but the events leading to the conclusion were simply poorly executed.
Overall, The Lost Girl was a great explorative story that delved out plenty of raw emotion and energy to keep the story fresh, sweet, and tragic.
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Thanks for the wonderful review, Lyn!!