Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review - The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Title: The Lost Girl
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 432
Goodreads Rating: 4.94 Stars
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
My Content Rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

This is one of those books that I had heard so many good things about that I decided to pick it up.  Unfortunately, while I enjoyed it, there were quite a few things about it that just didn't quite click for me.  The synopsis explains the book pretty well, so I'll just skip straight to my review.

The negatives:
  • The echoes.  I just didn't quite get why anyone would want an echo.  I mean, I understand why grieving parents would want their child back, but why would they want someone who looks like their child and is simply trained to act like them?  Would this be better than just losing your child?  Amarra's mother seemed to have some sort of hope that her daughter was still in Eva somewhere, but I don't really understand where she got that idea.  Apparently echoes had been being created for over 200 years - they had obviously figured out their limitations.  So why did Amarra's mother think anything else?  (No one else seemed to be under the same misconception).  Plus, I never understood why Eva would be raised so far away from her human counterpart - in a completely different climate and never actually experiencing anything that Amarra experienced.  She learned to "be" Amarra by reading notes about her life and seeing some pictures.  I didn't see how this would ever work.  Since the whole book is based off of this concept, it made it hard for me to look past this issue.
  • The ending.  The ending to this book was so open-ended, but I can't find any indication that there's going to be another.  I guess if there had been any sort of resolution at all, I would be okay, but there really wasn't.  I was just left feeling, "So, is that it?"
What I enjoyed:
  • Human vs. echo.  While I found the general concept of this book kind of hard to swallow, I did like the morality issues that it presented.  Many people considered echoes monsters rather than humans.  They didn't imagine that echoes would have true thoughts or feelings.  Plus, since echoes were created for the sole purpose of replacing a human should they die, they had no inherent value and were considered disposable.  This put Eva at the constant mercy of her creators and her "family."  She had to perform or she would be disposed of.  This moral quandary was definitely the best part of the book as far as I was concerned.
  • Eva.  Eva was in a horrible situation, but she remained a strong character who fought for what she wanted.  Sometimes that was just the right to live, and sometimes she had more complicated desires.  I loved how spunky Eva was and how she never gave up her sense of self, even when things got complicated.
  • Eva's family.  Eva's relationship with her "family" (and her friends, for that matter) was extremely complicated, which made it interesting.  In some ways, she resented these people, but at the same time she did form a true connection with them.  It was a constant struggle for Eva.
  • Sean and Eva.  I'm putting the romance on the "enjoyed" side of things because I really loved the beginning of Sean and Eva's relationship and I appreciated that Sean was willing to sacrifice his happiness for what he believed Eva needed.  Later in the book, I was kind of wishing the connection between Sean and Eva could have been built up a bit more, but I still loved them together.
Like I said, I enjoyed this book, but I didn't absolutely love it.  I just had a few too many questions and issues with the main concept.  There are obviously lots of people who disagree with me on this one, but for me it's only 3/5 stars.

Want some other opinions?  Check out what these other people thought of this book:

The Midnight Garden - 5 Stars
S.I.K. Book Reviews - 4.5 Stars
Turning the Pages - 3.5 Stars
Respiring Thoughts - 3 Stars