Title: The Lost Girl
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4 / 5
Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination – an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies 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 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 ...
-- As seen on Goodreads
“You exist by the Weavers’ grace, and only as long as you are what they expect of you. Do you not understand how fragile that is? But if you replace your other, you might be safe.”
-- Mina Ma to Eva
The more time that goes on since I finished The Lost Girl, I’m realising I'm having a few doubts on how I feel about it. On the surface, I really like the book. But, when I dig a little deeper I’m not as sure that I loved it as much as I originally did. Maybe the rose tinted glasses have shattered? I still really like the book, it's awesome, but that love I had hasn't remained with me. Let me try to explain.
I adored the beginning. I was wrapped up in the story and I connected with the characters so quickly. The concept was so different to anything I’ve read recently and it was a treat to find something quite new to me. The book is extremely loosely based on Frankenstein (but not a retelling), so this instantly appealed. If a loved one can’t bear the thought of losing someone close to them, they can create a copy, an “echo”, to take their place. If the loved one dies, the echo can be called on to take their place. I was so intrigued by this. The story is told in the first person, so we don’t get a lot of detail on the whole process of weaving an echo into existence, but the Weavers and the Loom are mentioned quite a lot. I would have loved to know more about all of this though!
Eva is an echo. She is the copy of Amarra, a girl growing up and living in Bangalore, India. Eva has lived all her life in one village in the North of England, where she has to learn every detail about Amarra so she can be prepared to step into her life if the time comes. She has to be kept quite isolated for fear of other people finding out she is an echo. I loved seeing how Eva copes with having no choice in anything she does. If Amarra gets a tattoo, Eva has to get the exact same tattoo. If Amarra reads a book, Eva has to read the book and if she stops reading it, so does Eva, and so on with everything that happens in life.
We never get to meet Amarra, but her presence is so strong in the book, and I found myself very sympathetic to both girls. Amarra has to record everything she does and pass it all over to her echo. She becomes resentful and doesn’t want to share her entire life with someone who is actually a stranger to her, even though they are identical.
“What must that be like, to know that every single thing you wear, every last thing you know, is being copied, mimicked, duplicated halfway across the world?”
I really liked the connection between Sean and Eva. They are one of, if not the main reason why I became so attached to the story in the beginning. Anything that happens between them didn’t feel forced, it felt genuine and real. Their connection was apparent very quickly, and he is such a sweetheart. They work well together and I was rooting for the two of them. The feelings that develop between them are strictly forbidden - Eva isn't human, she's a creation, and she can be Unwoven if she sets one foot out of line and gets on the Weavers badside. Sean knows this, so does Eva, and they are strong enough to realise what sacrifices may have to be made.
“I’d rather spend the rest of my life without ever seeing you again,’ he says, ‘than watch them destroy you because of me.”
I felt the story was a lot more captivating when it was set in England at the beginning. All that part of the book worked so well, and I was completely sold. It was new and I was getting used to a different concept and starting to figure out the characters. When Eva was herself, I loved it. I didn’t dislike the story when it moved on to India, but at times I didn’t connect with Eva as much. When she was called to become Amarra, things slowly chipped away at my interest levels.
I loved everything for so long, it wasn’t immediately apparent that I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was at the beginning. I don’t have a specific “ah ha!” moment in the plot, or I don’t have any problems or anything that’s really wrong with the story either. It’s more like I slowly moved away and became a little detached from the story, and I didn’t have the same desire to read the book constantly anymore. Don’t take this as a glaring negative; I think this is just me.
Thankfully, the ending did pick back up. It is very open-ended. The majority of the loose ends are tied up, but it ends in such a way that a sequel would not be unexpected. At the minute, this is a stand-alone. On the authors website she does say she would like to continue with the story, but I’m not too sure if that is ever going to happen. If you like your endings all neatly wrapped up, then this could be off-putting.
Now, I’m usually one of those people that like things wrapped up, but with some sort of believable future set out for the characters without it being “unfinished” if that makes sense! It’s nice to look back on a book and wonder what could happen to the characters. On the flip side, sometimes I’m incredibly disappointed with how the characters story ends. Especially those badly done epilogues and I’d say most of us have read one that we didn’t like!
With such an open ending here, we get to choose what paths all the characters go down. I actually really liked it. I don’t want this to become a trend, just like what has happened with those freaking cliff-hanger endings! But it’s nice to think that the end can be how I like it. If a sequel is released in the future, I’d love to read it, and see what the author has in mind for the characters. I really enjoyed the book, and I'd definitely recommend it. I just wish I still had the same love as I had when I began reading, then The Lost Girl would have been among my favorites I've read this year.