Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tea Time: The Lost Girl

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Lost Girl, Sangu Mandanna

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. (source:goodreads)

Cover-This cover is both trippy and wonderfully surreal in so many ways. I love the use of the girl's silhouette to provide a different setting than what's outside of her. And the lettering is really bright, which actually melds really well with the picture. The otherwise gentle coloring calms the entire image down enough that it's so much more of a relaxed feel.

Honestly, I'm not sure how to describe the cover. I just think it's really pretty.


Narrative-This book is told in the first person POV from the perspective of Amarra's "other," who names herself Eva within the first part of the book. Her voice is extremely simple, and I think it reflects on Eva's history and nature really well. This is a girl who's basically been stuck inside a house her whole life in a town that exists in the middle of nowhere, who isn't allowed to experience things unless her "other" has already experience them, and even then the majority of it is given to her through photographs.

The danger is: if she goes out and somebody realizes she's an echo, she'll be killed. Either by hunters, or if the police get wind of her. The result is that she's such a sheltered child that she really doesn't know much about the world and I think her voice reflects that.

The simpleness of it did throw me off in the beginning, though; it was a bit difficult getting into the novel for that reason, but either the narrative style grew more complex along with Eva's new experiences in a new life or I got used to it pretty fast.


Plot-The plot really struck a nerve with me. Eva was literally raised to be somebody else; the fact that she's so different from her "other," Amarra, causes so many problems that if word got back to the Weavers (the people who made her) they could have her "unstitched," or killed. If Amarra's parents (or Amarra, herself) decided they didn't want an echo, anymore, then Eva would be "unstitched," or killed.

The fact that this girl was created to be somebody else, and that her life was literally in the hands of people she never met before, made this book a bit intense, especially when people start to find out that Eva is an echo and not the real Amarra. She's an outcast, and people accuse her of "stealing" Amarra, when Eva really had no choice but to step into the dead girl's shoes.

It's an interesting take on Frankenstein and identity. How do you become you when the world is telling you how to be somebody else?

The conflict on Amarra's side is interesting, too. She lives her life trying to spite her echo, even getting a tattoo that Eva is dead-set against. Amarra knows that if she dies, there's somebody who's just going to "steal" and "take" everything away from her. Nothing is "hers," but "theirs."

Seriously, try living with the knowledge that if you died, there's going to be somebody to take your place and completely take over your life.

Those are the emotions and feelings and questions that kept me rooted into this novel, and I really think that the premise was fascinating. I could hardly put the book down. My only complaint is that I would have loved to see more of the Weavers and the mysterious Loom, beyond the glimpse that we get toward the end. And the ending, itself, kind of left more to be desired, but in a slightly negative fashion.

Those are the only reasons I'm taking a star off.


Characters-Eva's development during the novel was an interesting one. Something I particularly liked was that when she finally decided to fight back against the Weavers, it wasn't to completely annihilate them or destroy what they do; instead, it was simply an effort to make a life for herself by escaping the life that was built for her. Maybe it's more of a selfish goal for her, but it was an interesting and realistic one to watch her try to achieve. Watching her attempt to adjust to life as Amarra was also pretty touching, since many of her struggles were internal, things that literally nobody else would be able to help her with.

There are a few other "main" characters, and I think these would namely be Ray-Amarra's boyfriend-and Sean, the boy that Eva loves. Ray's development was a bit odd; the moment he found out that Eva was an echo his personality completely changes, and it felt like an interesting way to reveal the worst in people. Sean, on the other hand, is basically the perfect best friend and I kind of loved him, since he was essentially Eva's informant from within the Loom and could keep her updated with happenings from where she's from.


Final Answer: 4.25 / 5


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