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on 20 February 2013
Sometimes you come across books which you know very little about but which end up blowing you away. 'The Lost Girl' is one of those books. It absorbed me completely from the moment I started reading to the moment I turned the final page. I didn't want the story to end as I became immersed in Eva's world and her fight for a life of her own.

Inspiration for the story comes from one of my favourite classic novels, 'Frankenstein'. I have always been fascinated by the idea of creating new life and the theme of nature/nurture and this is something which Sangu Mandanna takes time to explore. Elements of Mary Shelley's story are entwined in the book but this is not designed to be a new version of the original, instead it uses it as a jumping off point for the creation of something entirely unique.

Mandanna's world building is incredible. I was impressed with the depth of detail which is used to describe the world of the loom and the work of the weavers, who create Echos - replicas of people for those families who can't bear the thought of losing their loved ones through accidental death or illness. Of course, the ethics of this is questioned but you can't fail to feel real sympathy for those families who only wish not to be parted from their children or spouses.

I enjoyed the way in which the book challenged me to consider more deeply ideas about life and death. The main character Eva fights hard for her life. She values it and treats it as something precious which needs to be protected. She also strives for independence. Although she has been created as an Echo of an Indian girl called Amarra, she desperately wants to be her own person rather than a replica of someone else.

There is a romantic element to the story too but I liked the fact that this was secondary to the main plot and never overwhelmed the direction of the book. Eva has a close relationship with one of her Guardians, Sean and I enjoyed the scenes they shared together, as well as the final outcome between them but I'm glad that this didn't take the focus off of Eva's personal journey.

Beautifully written, this was a compulsive read which I loved. I have yet to discover if there is a sequel planned or if this is a stand-alone novel but either way, I am excited to read more of Sangu Mandanna's work in the future.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2013
The Lost Girl is a dystopian with heart and is so emotionally complex and developed. It still has a fascinating futuristic plot, life or death action, and the twists that make dystopian fiction so popular but it's definitely an emotionally driven read which perhaps will make it appealing to contemporary lovers as well as the dystopian crowd. Being a fan of both genres made this book a winner for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eva is an Echo. A man made human being who has been made in the image of Amarra a girl she's never met who lives in India whose parents have had Eva made because they can't bear the thought of losing their daughter. All her life Eva has been fed information and updates on Amarra so that she can live out her life in a mirror image all in preparation for if Amarra dies an untimely death and she should be called upon to take her place, which is of course what happens in this book.

What makes The Lost Girl such an emotional read is that I felt sorry for every single character in this book. The family that brought Eva up who have to let her go, Amarra's family for their grief, Amarra for having to share her life and the thought of her being so easily replaced and of course Eva for having to spend her entire life acting like this person when all she wants is to be allowed to be herself. Even though I was always on Eva's side throughout the book I could understand the other characters actions and felt bad for them too. The laws of the Loom created a lose lose situation for everyone and I loved exploring the issues raised in this book on what makes a person who they are, humanity, the fine line between love death and life, and what remains of a person after they're gone.

Eva was such a strong heroine who wants so much more from life than living in somebody else's shadow. The things she had to endure and the way she soldiered on was really admirable making her a fantastic heroine. There are so many characters to love in this book but Lekha, Sean, Nikhil, Mina Ma and of course Eva were my favourites. I especially loved that I loved Matthew - one of the bad guys, I do love a good villain especially one with a soft side!

The Lost Girl is set in both Britain and India. I love reading books based in my own country and Sangu Mandanna's descriptions of India had me fully imagining the country. The only thing I found a little odd about this book was that England was so advanced as to make actual humans but nothing else about the book was very futuristic at all. It read like a modern day Britain and I found it a little hard to believe that whilst we were reading about a time where man can make people that nothing else seemed to have evolved at all. However I loved everything else about this book so much that this didn't bother me too much and was more of a niggle than an annoyance.

Overall The Lost Girl was an incredibly moving and thought provoking debut. Although the story wraps up well enough to be a standalone, I loved these characters so much that I would love a sequel if Sangu Mandanna ever wanted to revisit this world.
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4.5 stars

Eva is an echo and she was created by the Weavers to be a perfect copy of a girl called Amarra. Her sole reason for existence is to be able to replace Amarra if anything happens to her. Eva's entire life has been spent studying Amarra from afar, she must learn everything about her others life, Eva must eat what Amarra eats, read the same books, watch the same films, have the same interests and even learn about her friends and family. Every little detail of her life is planned for her and she is forbidden from doing anything that her other hasn't already done. Eva realised years ago that she couldn't be more different to Amarra, they may look identical but in every other way they are opposites. So when Amarra dies in a car accident and Eva is sent to India to replace her things are about to get complicated. Eva has studied her entire life for this role but sticking to it goes against every instinct she has. But if she can't convince the world that she is Amarra then she is putting not just herself but also her new family's lives at risk because in India echoes are not just reviled - they are completely illegal.

I have been wanting to read The Lost Girl ever since I first heard about it back in 2011 so it has been a very long wait to get my hands on Sangu Mandanna's debut novel! Thankfully it was worth the wait though and I loved every minute of this emotional and heart breaking story. The book raises so many questions about what it means to be human, about the importance of having our own identity and about how it feels to be moulded into something that you're not. It also touches on grief and the things that desperate people will go through to bring back lost loved ones. At the same time I think it highlights how important it is to let go of those who are gone, it shows that it is OK to miss someone but that you shouldn't let it stop you from moving forward with your own life. I love a story that can make me think and that is exactly what I got with The Lost Girl, add to that the wonderful writing, the fantastic characters and such a unique premise and you have a book that I highly recommend.

Eva has never had an easy life, from birth she has been raised as a replacement for Amarra, she isn't supposed to be her own person and is meant to be identical to her other in every way. She has been lucky that the guardians who have raised her and overseen her education, Mina Ma, Sean, Erik and Ophelia, have been fairly lenient with her. They even let her choose herself a name which is something that should have been reported to the Weavers and could have cost Eva her life. As much as she hasn't been raised by a traditional family Eva has always been loved by those who surround her and they have probably nurtured her hopes and dreams more than they should have because of that. I couldn't do anything but love Eva, she is such a strong person, for someone who goes through so much hardship she never gives up hope, she wants more from her life and she is prepared to fight for her future. I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of her story, watching her growing up and coming to care for Sean and I fell in love with him right alongside her. Sean is the kind of boy we all dream of having in our lives, he knows everything about Eva, even her darkest secrets, and he loves her anyway. He doesn't think that being an echo makes her any less of a person and he doesn't expect her to be anything other than who and what she really is deep inside.

I loved the setting when Eva moves to Bangalore to become Amarra, the descriptions are fabulous and I want to visit India more than ever now. I loved seeing Eva's interactions with Amarra's family, particularly her siblings Nik and Sasha, the whole family know the truth about who Eva is and they all have different expectations of her. Amarra's mother believes that Amarra's soul has come back in Eva's body but the rest of the family are a little more sceptical and it was interesting to see how this coloured their interactions with her. It was incredibly hard for Eva to lie to everyone around her, none of Amarra's friends know that she died so Eva has to spend all her time pretending to be someone she isn't and that wears her down. I can't even imagine how exhausting it must be to constantly be acting out someone else's life! There were times when I almost hated Amarra for the way she had acted towards Eva but even though I didn't agree with her actions I could understand them. As hard as it was for Eva to have to live someone else's life and never have control over what would happen to her it was equally as hard for Amarra to know that someone else was learning every single thing about her and being trained to take her place if anything happened to her. I had slightly less sympathy for Amarra at first because we never her, we only ever got to see her through the eyes of others, but that changed as I learnt more about her.

I really don't want to say anything else about the plot because I don't want to give you any spoilers. I am going to mention that although this is being marketed as a dystopian story I don't think that is a label I would give to the book. Don't go into it expecting an apocalyptic or futuristic society - this book could easily be set today. The only difference is the existence of echoes but they aren't a huge part of the population and most people don't even believe they are out there. I'm not telling you this to put you off reading the book because I really did enjoy it but I was expecting something very different to what I got because of the dystopian label and I don't want anyone to feel disappointed. The Lost Girl is a fantastic story, one that pulled me in and gripped me from the first page and didn't let go until I reached the end. It's a wonderful debut and I can't wait to get my hands on whatever Sangu Mandanna writes next!
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on 29 January 2013
I really loved The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. Right from the very first page, I loved Eva's voice and I wanted to know more about her story. I think the thing I loved the most about this book was the strength and determination of Eva to survive and also that there were so many people around her who cared for her.

The Lost Girl is the story of a girl who is not in control over her own life. She has been created by the weavers as a substitute. If something were ever to happen to Eva's Other, Eva would have to take that girl's place and Eva spends her days trying to study and mimic the actions of Amarra. Eva isn't supposed to experience things that Amarra hasn't done, taste things that Amarra hasn't tasted and she certainly isn't meant to fall in love or have her own hopes and dreams. Only those of Amarra's are important.

After sixteen years of isolation and study, Eva should be ready to step in straightaway, especially after she hears that Amarra has died suddenly in a car accident. And while Eva has always struggled with following the rules, now that she steps in as Amarra in India, she has to be very careful in the things she says and does as her very life depends on her getting it right as Amarra.

Can I say right now that I loved that Eva/Amarra are both Indian. There definitely needs to be more main characters that aren't white for the readers out there (like me!) who are also not white. And I loved both the settings of Eva in England and also Eva-as-Amarra in India. I think India is definitely one of those places that needs to be written about more in YA! I also love the way in which Frankenstein is woven into the storyline. It is the rule that is never broken, allowing Echos to read the story of Frankenstein. The Lost Girl really made me curious to pick up this book and to read it with Eva's story and her perspective in mind.

It's a really interesting concept, this one. I found myself endlessly fascinated with the origin of the weavers and of their work and how the concept evolved. It was interesting to see how Eva is treated by her classmates and other people who know she is an echo and then to see the contrast of that with her guardians. Especially Mina Ma, who has quickly become one of my favourite recent secondary characters. Their relationship, the strength of it, really made me cry on several different occasions because that sort of emotional connection and bond between two people who aren't related is what I search for on a personal level! It came across as really believable and emotional. And while I loved Sean utterly and entirely and I found myself falling in love with him just as Eva does, it is Mina Ma who steals the show for me!

Eva has an incredible voice. There's such beauty in her thoughts and actions. And I loved seeing the different sides of grief and bereavement after the death of Amarra. This from Amarra's younger siblings, her parents, her friends and from her boyfriend. All of whom react very differently and connect with Eva-as-Amarra in very different ways.

I think Eva-as-Amarra goes through some incredibly hard situations within this book and I really love that while things are tough, there's always that sense of hope and fight within Eva to keep going with the idea that things could be better. The Lost Girl is an incredible, beautiful and hopeful debut novel and I really recommend that you read it!
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on 15 January 2013
The Lost Girl is a wonderfully told retelling of Frankenstein. Echoes are clone-like people that Weavers 'stitch' together, as an insurance policy if someone dies. Illegal in some countries, controlled by the Loom where Weavers create Echoes and hunted by Hunters, who believe them abominations, echoes live learning about their 'other's lives in case they have to step in and be them. Eva, the protagonist, is a likeable and stubborn, strong personality, who realizes how different she is from her 'other' early on. When she has to move to India and take her place, after she suffered a fatal accident, she is faced with her other's family, that have various reactions to her.
Things change though and she has to make decisions that will affect not only her, but the people that raised her in England, her Guardians, especially the boy she loves, as well as her other's family in India, who she is becoming fond of.
Philosophical questions about self, identity, soul and ethical and moral dilemma of 'man-made' humans are weaved in seamlessly with a poetic narration and lyricism that Sangu Mandanna manages to intersperse with suspense ridden action scenes. Also, the exotic atmosphere of Bangalore as a setting for half of the story, gives it an haunting quality that leaves you breathless and wanting for more. Looks like there's going to be a sequel too, which is exciting. Please Ms Mandanna, give us more of Eva, Sean and (some) Ray.
If you liked Wither, Unwind, The Host, Slated and books like this, you will love The Lost Girl.
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on 29 October 2015
The Lost Girl centres around Eva. Eva has been created as an Echo for Amarra. She has been created incase something happens to Amarra. If Amarra dies than Eva takes her place. Eva has to spend her life studing Amarra, learning about the boy Amarra loves to fully prepare herself if she needs to take Amarra’s place!

I was hooked from the start, and found myself questioning whether I would want an Echo created of the people I love. Would it really be like them or would the true soul of the person I loved never return to the Echo’s body? I couldn’t believe how much The Lost Girl provoked such thoughts. Although I liked the idea of an Echo, I did feel sorry for Eva. Being created purely for the process of replacing another is pretty rubbish. Eva’s life was so restricted and not her own. Even when she fulfilled her role as Amarra’s Echo, she had to fight to prove herself. Her life was never straight forward. Eva is a superb character and one that really will stick with me for a long time!

I’m so pleased that I came across this book, because it ended up a 5 star read for me. I couldn’t fault it! I really wasn’t expecting a 5 star read when I picked it up, so my expectations were highly exceeded! I hope to read more from Sangu Mandanna in the future!
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on 3 July 2014
I admit to never having heard of this book until seeing it mentioned in ‘favourite read’ lists on a few blogs. I ordered it purely on that basis and had no idea it was a YA novel. It is a romantic story of love and loss, grief and identity, set in the UK and India, with sinister echoes of Frankenstein. Eva is an ‘echo’, a non-human ‘woven’ by a mysterious organization called The Loom which makes copies of real people for their family in case the loved one should die. The idea is that the ‘echo’ slips into the dead person’s shoes so minimising the family’s loss. Of course it is not that simple. Mandanna handles a difficult subject well, not avoiding the awkward moral issues which litter the dystopian story premise. The world is disturbingly almost normal, littered with everyday familiar references. Eva, who lives in the Lake District, is the echo for Amarra from Bangalore. I found it quite an emotional read, not just Eva’s situation but her guardians, her familiars, and Amarra’s friends in India. What seems a simple premise at the beginning, done with the best intentions, becomes increasingly dark as the story develops and the true horror of Eva’s situation is explained.
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on 2 March 2014
I absolutely loved this book, I was compeltely gripped, I couldn't put it down! Hope the author does a sequel!
I would recommend this book to all ages, especially teenagers
Beautifully written and emotive :)
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on 25 January 2016
Entertaining but flawed love story.
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