What is this power the dead have over the ones they leave behind? It’s strange and beautiful and frightening, this deathless love that human beings continue to feel for the ones they’ve lost.
If you could have a double of a loved one made, someone that would come to you if your loved one died and take their place, would you? They’d be an exact physical replica. They’d spent their whole lives learning to be the person you lost. But would that be enough?
That’s the premise of The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. For a price, people called Weavers make perfect little clones called echoes that can be used to replace a person once they’ve died. As the technology stands now, they have to be taught to be that person, but the hope is that one day they’ll actually be able to transfer the thoughts and soul of someone into a body double that’s just standing by.
Eva is an echo. She spends most of her life in a house with her caretakers, studying her other, Amarra. But Eva isn’t exactly like Amarra. She can’t be. She has her own thoughts, her own wants and needs, people she loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have much of a choice – when Amarra dies, Eva gets packed off to India to become her. She’s implanted with a tracker so she can’t run away and she can’t tell anyone what she is, both because echoes are illegal in India and because most people see them as abominations. Eva wants to make Amarra’s family happy, but she also badly wants to be herself and live her own life, so what is she supposed to do?
Once I started in on The Lost Girl, I couldn’t stop. I quickly became invested in Eva and wanted her to be happy. I knew that Amarra had to die and Eva had to go live that life – what story would there be if Eva just got to stay home in England? – but in the chapters leading up to it, I still hoped that nothing would happen to Amarra. When we see Amarra die in Eva’s dream, I felt my stomach drop. When Eva leaves for India, I was even more afraid that she wouldn’t do a good job being Amarra. If she wasn’t convincing enough, Amarra’s family might get rid of her, and that would mean her death.
I really loved every character, to be honest, even those who betrayed Eva. I understood all of them and their motivations. It’s pretty awesome writing that does that.
Also, Eva ships Harry/Hermione, and that’s the coolest. Basically all of my friends have some ships (that is, fictional relationships that they support, canon or not) but you never see that acknowledged in books. In The Lost Girl, it’s just a quick, casual moment. It doesn’t make a big deal out of itself, but it was a big deal to me. It grounded the book for me and made me love Eva even more.
My only real problems with the book were that I want to know more about how echoes are made. We know that every echo has only one Weaver working on it, but we don’t know how they do it. I became a little uncertain if it was science or magic or both. There’s also not a defined time period. I’m pretty sure it’s set in an alternate version of our present, but I would have loved some confirmation.
This is not your usual future technology YA (which, let’s be honest, are usually dystopias). This is something different, and it’s easily one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.