Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna


The Lost GirlAuthor: Sangu Mandanna
Published: January 3rd 2013
Publisher: Definitions
Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository



Eva is an echo, a person weaved into existence to serve as some parents’ backup plan, in case something happens to their beloved daughter. Although reserved for the rich, the practice is not uncommon and Weavers make new echoes all the time. Eva has no life of her own; she must experience everything her Other, Amarra, does, so when Amarra gets a tattoo, Eva has to get one exactly like it even though she hates it, and when Amarra goes swimming in the middle of the winter, Eva has no choice but to do the same.

But the city is the place that shelters Amarra’s ghost. And yet being in it alone is one of the few places I can let the mask slip away and instead of walking in her shoes, it’s like we’re two girls, ghost and echo, walking side by side.

Even though it’s been two hundred years since the first echo was made, the public still considers them soulless. They are illegal in some countries, but even where they’re legal, they have to hide from the hunters. This makes Eva’s life even harder as she’s not allowed to leave the cottage she shares with her guardians or spend time with people her own age. Luckily, there is Sean, employed by the Weavers to teach her about normal everyday things, everything she can never experience herself, at least not unless her Other dies.

The romance between Eva and Sean was not some flashy, unbelievable, overnight thing. Developed over time and built on a substantial foundation, what Eva and Sean had wasn’t something I’m likely to forget. The times when Eva’s lack of social skill showed, especially in the way she handled things with Sean, were my favorite parts of the book because they made her seem realistic and very endearing. For the most part, Sean was a perfect hero, unwaveringly loyal no matter how hard the situation, but he wasn’t without flaws, and it was those tiny things, his weaknesses and quirks that made him stand out for me. Those are, after all, the things I’ll remember months from now when the color of his hair or the way in which he smiles completely disappear from my memory.

Mandanna’s writing is also flawless, not overly decorative and not too bare. She demonstrated the kid of surety one expects from a seasoned author, not someone as young and inexperienced as her.

So if I liked the writing, the story and the characters, why four starts instead of five? I think anyone who’s ever lost a loved one, not a distant cousin but someone extremely close, will struggle with the premise behind this book. As a parent, I can’t even imagine wanting a spare child if something happens to this one, and as a person who’s lost someone irreplaceable, I can’t even wrap my head around the whole thing. I struggled with the concept, but most of all, I struggled with the contradicting decisions and actions Eva’s familiars (Amarra’s parents) made. None of it made much sense to me.

‘You are important,’ he says. ‘Even if I can’t quite believe my daughter survived, like my wife does, you’ve still given us reason to hope for something more. For life beyond death. It’s why we wanted you in the first place. For that hope. And the absence of loss.’

However, I think I’ve made it clear that I really enjoyed this book. I had a difficult time accepting parts of it, and some of it just hit too close to home, but all things considered, The Lost Girl is a truly astonishing debut. I expected no less after reading my friend Keertana’s wonderful review. She was also kind enough to take us on a virtual tour of all the places Eva visited in Bangalore. It’s so interesting, make sure to check it out.



30 comments:

  1. I really loved this book and I'm so glad you like it too. Wonderfully written review. :D
    I agree with what you said about the concept. It's something that I just can't consider. Though the concept is interesting and unique. I cried so much reading this book.

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  2. While i have heard about similar themes, this sounds fascinating and it sounds like the world-building is good. Even though you struggled with parts of this, i may pick it up.

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  3. Oooo yay! I'm so glad you liked this one Maja, I can't wait to read it. The romance between Eva and Sean sounds particularly amazing, I love those slow relationships we're everything feels intimate rather than overly dramatic and angsty:) I completely understand your issue with the concept of a spare, I'm not a parent nor have I lost anyone close to me, but I can't imagine just having someone else lined up to take their place should something happen to them. Definitely a memorable premise though:)

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  4. Well, I won this book in a giveaway. But it has not arrived yet. I have heard so many good things about this, so I CANNOT wait!
    The concept is strange but unique, too.
    LOVED Your review, Maja
    Your constant reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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  5. "Developed over time and built on a substantial foundation, what Eva and Sean had wasn’t something I’m likely to forget."

    That is my favourite type of romance - naunced and emotional, with a slow buildup and deep, heartfelt feelings. This book sounds so gorgeously crafted, (with SO MANY raving reviews on top of it all!) that I'm surprised I haven't read it yet! Stellar review, Maja. :)

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  6. I know Keertana loved this one. I liked that description you put in about remembering Sean months down the road. I have been meaning to check this out but never found time. I know I would struggle with the spare kid thing as well. It kind of reminds me of that book I read in the fall.... the title is escaping me right now it had dual personalities in one body....and then the parent is forced to accept only one and let the other die... anyway I know I need to read this soon. Glad to be back. Let's get 2013 rolling!

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  7. Fabulous review! I'm glad the romance was slow-building and really realistic. Those are the best romances!! I really, really need to read this ASAP. :)

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  8. I have this one sitting on my nightstand. After reading your review, I have a much better sense of what I'm getting myself into but I can't wait to read it. I'm going to move it higher and see if I can get to it within the next few days.

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  9. I definitely need to buy a copy of this book or something, because I've seen countless fantastic reviews about it! Although the concept does seem a bit messed up and confusing, I think I will thoroughly enjoy the fantastic characterization and romance. Characterization is so important for me,and so I think I'll absolutely adore that aspect of the book.

    Fantastic review Maja! I will be getting my hands on copy of this book. <3

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  10. I have won a copy from this book a while ago and I'm now wondering why I haven't read it yet. It sounds so good. The concept is fascinating and strange at the same time. And I'm so happy that the romance develops. I will pick this one up soon!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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  11. Amazing review, Maja! I'm so glad you liked this, despite your few qualms with it. I think the romance was definitely one of my most favorite aspects of this one and the discussion of grief was one that I, as someone who has never lost anybody, found very moving. I love this novel as a stand-alone, but I wouldn't be opposed to a sequel either!(: Also, thank you for linking to my review, dear, and I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your sister! :D

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  12. I'll have to give this a whirl, although I don't have children of my own I understand your point about questioning the idea of a replacement child. I'm sure similarly it won't stop me from enjoying the story, but it does seem unfathomable. Lovely review, Maja.

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  13. Oh there seems to be so much love for this book right and it's obvious to see why, the premise sounds beautiful yet heartbreaking and I love the sound of the romance between Sean and Eva. I have a copy of this which seems like I've been putting off for way too long. I'll be definitely be picking it up next! Another beautiful review hun! :)

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  14. It's definitely a crazy concept to wrap your head around, but I guess if you live in a world where it's an option, you might "trick" yourself into believing it's like you're not really losing a loved one. Sounds like fascinating story though, and I really want to read it now! Thanks so much for the great review.

    I'm glad the love interest did have quirks/faults. I don't like one who is completely perfect; doesn't seem real, because, well, it's NOT, of course. haha And I like that the relationship wasn't too quick or unrealistic either.

    -Lauren

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  15. Great review Maja. This book didn't appeal to me at all but your lovely review has me reconsidering. I agree though, loved ones are definitely irreplaceable, and especially someone's child. The thoughts of it is inconceivable. I think I may struggle with this part of it too.

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  16. Lovely review! I really need to get around to reading this book. It is such an interesting concept, but, as you said, it also sounds like an extremely tough concept to deal with emotionally. I do want to read this, but I think I'll also need to be in the right mood to handle the premise. Reading your positive review, along with so many others, has cemented the fact that I will read it soon!

    And this is a bit of an aside, but although that cover is beautiful I'm left wondering if it's an example of whitewashing. I have yet to read this book, but if it takes place in India, I'm going to assume that the protagonist is Indian, which means her echo would be too, right?

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  17. Huh, I had never actually read the premise for this one in any detail before now - that sounds really interesting! And really well done. Even with the criticism you mention (though it is a pretty significant one), this book sounds lovely - thanks for putting it back on my radar!!

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  18. I've wanted to read this ever since Keertana's review. As a parent the idea of having a spare child around is unfathomable and disturbing, but it sounds like that's what this author was going for. Wonderful review Maja. :)

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  19. Wow, the premise is hard to get your head round, however fascinating it is! But I'm really glad you enjoyed it despite this. I'd love to discover Mandanna's writing for myself - it sounds beautiful :) As does the romance between Sean and Eva. I love watching relationships develop and this one doesn't seem like an exception!

    Wonderful review, Maja!

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  20. I've heard so many people rave on and on about this book. I need to check it out soon now that you've given it 4 stars. It sounds like a very deep read with an intriguing plot line. I also really love the sound of the romance. If it's slow-building and memorable then it's perfect for me.
    Lovely review, Maja! :) I'm really glad you enjoyed this book.

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  21. sounds very emotional
    Lovely review, Maja!

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  22. Been hearing about this one. Nice review and can't wait to read it. The story sounds interesting.

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  23. Awesome. I've been looking forward to reading this book so I'm glad it met your approval.

    Thanks, Maja!

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  24. This sounds like a great read! I need to add it to me TBR pile. Great review!

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  25. Aww, yay! I'm so happy to hear this was a lovely book, even if it did hit close to home. I can't wait to dig into Mandanna's writing and see what it's all about. The concept sounds utterly fascinating and I hope the way the author explains it is satisfying and clear. From the way you state in your review, it sounds like she does a good job! I'm also really excited to read about the characters. The fact that they have little quirks here and there that make them so memorable is awesome. You know then that the author has done it's job! Beautiful review, Maja.

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  26. Wow, Maja this book sounds awesome! And the romance... *swoons* I LOVE what you said about Sean and Eva. Eva seems so nice and relatable! I hate it when people call superficially characters perfect in a good way, because that's not real, nobody's perfect. So Eva sounds like an awesome protagonist. I hope you don't forget Sean too soon! Lovely review, Maja! :)

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  27. I think it was Keertana's review that convinced me this was a must read. Your thoughts have me doubly thinking that. I cant imagine getting a replacement child but I think that's something that wont really bother me because I can imagine people doing that. Some people just cant face loss.

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  28. It's been said, but I have to say it again, WOW! I hadn't heard of this book before, but I definitely want to read it now. I love slow building romances, and I know issues that hit close to home can be hard to read about, but they also really connect me to the story, so I usually find myself appreciating elements like that in a story. Thanks for the link to Keertana review. I'm gonna go check it out.

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  29. Keertana is one of the reasons I want to read this book too and why I've made my way over here.

    It looks like a really great book and the characters sound incredible, especially that they have flaws. I think it makes them so much more realistic.

    However the fact that it touches on separate people to potentially replace somebody does sound like a hard concept to take on when you've lost somebody because I couldn't imagine replacing anybody in my life I've lost, it just wouldn't be the same.

    The premise of this novel reminds me of the film The Island where they have all the "other" people on an Island and it's generally celebrities who have people grown in case they end up fatally ill. Rather a tragic and scary idea that this could ever exist.

    Lovely review. New follower here! :)

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  30. This book sounds really interesting.

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