I remember being in town with Mina Ma. I must have been about ten. She wanted to buy a lottery ticket, and I stood outside the corner store and looked in the window of the toy shop next door. There was a man in the shop, sitting on a stool with a knife and a large piece of wood in his hands. He worked at the wood with the knife, chipping and whittling away, shaping the wood into arms, little legs, a face. I watched him smooth the rough edges with sandpaper, then pick up a wig of soft, almost black hair and fasten it with glue to the doll’s head. Finally he sewed a tiny white dress and buttoned it around the doll. The whole thing looked like dancing. His hands moved so delicately, so lovingly.
When I imagine how I was made, that’s how I imagine it. I don’t know the reality, of course; no one will ever fully explain it. Mina Ma once told me there was fire. Erik said they stitch us together. So I imagine my Weaver sitting at a great oak desk in a workshop. The sunlight glints off the wood. I imagine he’s got a bit of my other’s skin, a bit of her self, and he uses it to make me look just like her. To put a bit of her soul into me. As for the rest, he stitches me together from pieces of someone else, someone long dead, perhaps. He smokes out the old bones to clean them. He burns the old flesh to whittle it down. He uses fire to make me fit the mold he wants to cast. He stitches my infant self to life, weaving in little organs, a few fine baby hairs, a tiny white dress. He glues my edges together. It looks like dancing. But his hands—no matter how many times I imagine my creation, his hands never move like they love me. Because they don’t.
I suppose it’s one of those things I have always known. The Weavers create us, but they don’t love us. They stitch us together. They make sure we grow up knowing, always, that we belong to them.
It’s early. I can smell the wet grass outside, the sharp, clean morning air that turns warm and breezy over the lake later on. It’s too early to be awake, but I get dressed and tiptoe out of my room, past Mina Ma’s, to the French windows at the foot of the cottage. The windows gleam in the sunlight. Only a few weeks ago, they were dirty and splattered with eggs. The town kids thought it’d be funny. I remember looking at the pattern of egg yolks and having the strangest idea that it spelled MONSTER. That was what they called me, when they cornered me down by the lake a few days before the egg-splattering. I think they came because they wanted to know if the rumor about the girl in the cottage was true. It turned nasty fast, and I hit one of them in the face. He was twice my size. I got away with a black eye, a bloody lip, and a sense of savage satisfaction because I did what I wanted for once.
My other would have walked away. I don’t think she fights against something if she doesn’t like it; she has this soft, sensible way of accepting it. Erik and Mina Ma tell me that kind of grace is a more admirable quality than ferocity. They tell me that is how I should be. Her. Mina Ma thinks I like being contrary. “Sometimes,” she says, “I think that if she were a rowdy, angry little thing, you’d be soft and quiet just to be difficult.” But it’s not true. It’s simpler than that: I don’t think I’m much like her. I threw her favorite food on the floor when I was five. While she sat on her father’s knee and polished dusty artifacts, I secretly made sculptures of birds out of wet paper and candle wax. When I was seven, I begged Mina Ma to take me to a movie in town even though I knew my other hadn’t seen it. These are small things. Risky, but not dangerous. I’ve learned the difference.
I touch the glass of the French windows. I was very lucky to escape that fight without lasting consequences. My guardians were appalled. Ophelia should have told the Weavers about it. Only she didn’t.
Erik didn’t say much, but the disappointed look on his face spoke volumes. “We can only lie for you so many times,” he told me. “We can’t protect you if you defy their laws.” Sorry tripped to my tongue, but it seemed inadequate. It didn’t matter. Erik hadn’t finished. “It’s not just the Weavers, either. What about those little brats? Don’t you think they might tell their parents they’ve found an echo? People talk.”
The Lost Girl
Copyright © 2012 by Sangu Mandanna
Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other,” if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, who she loves. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.
But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to convince the world that Amarra is still alive….
Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sangu Mandanna’s stunning debut novel The Lost Girl continues the great science-fiction tradition Shelley established: Exploring what it truly means to be human.
Hardcover Book : 432 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins ( August 28, 2012 )
Item #: 13-612769
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Does anybody read these reviews? If so, don't pass this book up. I ordered it thinking it was a print version of LOST GIRL, the tv show which is a guilty pleasure of mine. Got the book found it not to be so but started it anyway. Found a fresh idea, characters you can care about and villains who are.., well, villainous. It's a really nice bit of writing and worth the price of admission. Don't let the young adult tag put you off.
Reviewer: Mike D
I would really give this 3 1/2 stars. Mandanna's writing was solid, the idea strong, the protagonist likable, and the world-building adequate. I'm definitely interested to see what she writes next.
Part one was the best: Mandanna's characterization was spot-on. At the end of part one I almost cried, almost. (If I had stopped reading at page 100, I would have rated 4 stars.)
Part two was a huge letdown. The repetitive conversations between Eva and Ray, and Eva having the same thoughts over and over, annoyed me most. There were even instances of stating the obvious, which irks me to no end. Mandanna did successfully provoke my outrage over the treatment of Echoes and my desire for Eva to not only survive but be happy too. (If I'd read only pages 101 to 294, I'd have rated it 2 stars.)
Part three, where the majority of the action and revelations take place, was way too short. And the ending - what the frick?! Everything felt rushed: Eva and Sean, Eva and the Loom - it all seemed to "resolve" itself in the blink of an eye. There were definitely missed opportunities. I feel like maybe Mandanna's editor dropped the ball a bit. Parts two and three needed more work. For a novel over 400 pages, there should not have been a hurried feeling anywhere except the chase scenes.
Side note: Matthew was obviously a huge part of Eva's existence, but he's given little face time. The same could be said for the other Weavers and the Loom itself. I wonder if that's because the author hopes to write a sequel (or prequel) to The Lost Girl?
Reviewer: Leah S