The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. ★★★
I should stop reading YA dystopias. They are so often badly thought out and executed, and The Lost Girl is no exception. That being said, it has the best trait of the genre – it is compulsively readable.
Eva is an echo – a copy of a person created to replace them in case they die. She spends her life learning how to mimic the life of her original, Amarra. When Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva has spent sixteen years of her life preparing to travel to India to replace her, but nothing can fully prepare her to step into another person’s life.
One of the biggest problems with The Lost Girl is that there’s hardly any world building whatsoever. There’s an organization called the Loom which has been making echos for two hundred years. There’s some vague group of people called hunters who think echos are soulless and should be killed (and are willing to take this matter into their own hands). What is the impact of the Loom upon the world? How does any of it work? Your guess is as good as mine, because it’s sure not explored in the book.
Another problem I had was that Eva displayed almost no evidence of having a working brain. She made practically no decisions and just went with the flow for pretty much the entire book (the Big Choice is an entirely obvious suggestion made by her love interest). If you think a shadowy organization might kill you, wouldn’t you make some preparations? Or would you go to high school like nothing’s happening? Guess which Eva did.
Events take forever to happen. The vast majority of her book consists of Eva going about doing her everyday things. Granted, some of this is necessary, especially in the beginning, to get a feel of what it is like to be an echo. However, I feel like the events of the climax should have taken up a larger portion of the book than they did. The climax and plot in general had a large number of holes, such as some eye brow raising decisions on the part of the original’s parents. There were a lot of loose ends left too, which made The Lost Girl feel like the first book in a series… even though there’s no evidence of a sequel or any plans for one.
Characterization wasn’t memorable in any way, but it wasn’t notably bad either. Eva was easy to sympathize with. She’s had so little control or choice in her own life, and there’s no path of easy escape. She had a romance subplot which wasn’t too bad but was still completely forgettable, much like the rest of the book.
On the bright side, while The Lost Girl may have problems, I mostly didn’t notice them until after I had finished the book. It was easy to read and entertaining enough in a mindless sort of way. While I won’t be recommending it, I wouldn’t discourage you from reading it either.