Creative writer, reviewer and blogger. Lover of a good sentence.
Published January 29th 2013
Her life begins when another one ends
Sangu Mandanna was four years old when she was chased by an elephant, wrote her first story about it and decided that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Seventeen years later, she read Frankenstein. It sent her into a writing frenzy that became The Lost Girl, a novel about death and love and the tie that binds the two together.
Fifteen-year-old Eva is an echo - a copy of somebody else. She looks exactly like her other, Amarra, and spends her days learning about her life should she need to take her place. They read the same books and eat the same food. When Amarra goes swimming, Eva goes swimming, and when Amarra gets a tattoo, her echo is forced to do the same.
Eva is lucky, her guardians love her and are nothing less than her family. Although each night she reads diary entries from her other, and knows that she will one day step in and be her, she has moments of normality. She laughs with her guardians and risks a law-breaking trip to the zoo. She's almost a regular girl - until the accident.
Eva must say goodbye to her guardians, and forfeit her personality, her identity. She must become Amarra.
Mandanna's debut novel is a thought-provoking yet heartwarming read. The dystopian themes evoke questions about the creation of life, the morality and the ethics. Eva's treatment as an echo explores the meaning of humanity, and our quickness to shun anything deemed unnatural. Identity is at the core of the novel, not only as an echo, but as a teenager.
Mandanna has described her influence from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and although life is a large theme in her novel, death plays an equal part. After the accident, Amarra continues to haunt her echo, and even influences the course of her life. She exists in her family, her friends, even in Eva. Her omnipresence is reminiscent of Daphne De Maurier's Rebecca.
The Lost Girl is an enticing mixture of so many different things. It's spicy and sweet, sometimes even sour. But it's these clashes of lighthearted reading, emotional rollercoasters and haunting themes, that make The Lost Girl such an amazing and unique story.