Review: The Lost Girl / Author: Sangu Mandanna / Publisher: Definitions / Release Date: January 3rd 2013
In the future, no-one need worry about death; if a loved one dies, a copy, or “Echo” can be made to replace them. Eva, the main protagonist of The Lost Girl , is one such Echo, made by Weavers in the mysterious Loom in order to resemble another person's child.
That child is Amarra, an academically capable and popular Indian girl, who is required, via journals, to tell Eva every detail about her life. In these diaries, Amarra makes it clear just how much she objects to Eva's existence. And she's not the only one – Eva is protected by Guardians but hated by Hunters and religious fanatics who believe that Echoes are abominations.
Eva is well aware of her duty: when Amarra is killed in a car crash, she is required to relinquish her childhood in the Lake District in order to live out a lie in Bangalore. There is a delicious irony in that that neither the doomed Amarra nor Eva is free to be who they want to be (while Amarra is burdened with the constant knowledge that there is another “being” to replace her should she die). Once Eva is in Bangalore, things, as you'd expect, do not go smoothly.
It's refreshing that the heroine is brave but also vulnerable and relatable (not all female protagonists have to be as kickass as The Hunger Games' Katniss). It is also a treat to read a novel which is unashamedly British-Indian, and set in both Windermere and Bangalore, with some glorious Northern idioms like “mint”.
The story is fast-paced and the narrator is likeable – two wins for a book. However, the ethical issues which underpin the tale are somewhat glossed over. This is a shame; the author seems to have more to say on these areas and teen readers are perfectly capable of considering them. The last few chapters, also, are weak (a situation which might be redeemed if, as the author plans, this turns out to be the first entry in a series). Other niggles are the unattractive cover and dull title (surely Echoes would have been better?). Otherwise, The Lost Girl is perfectly pitched as science fiction for young women.