Friday, December 20, 2013
The Lost Girl, by Sangu Mandanna
Eve's growing self-enlightenment is interrupted when Amarra is killed in an accident. Suddenly, Eve is sent to India to take on the role for which she has been preparing. Despite all of Eve's study, things do not go well as neither she nor Amarra's family are able to adapt to the change. And as Eve, her new family, and Amarra's friends struggle with the situation, it unveils a deep complexity to the issue. Eve may have little choice of the role she has been created to play, but for the family that chose to do this, how do they make it work? And is replacing your deceased daughter with a clone really going to fill the gap in your life?
It's thoughtful and original science fiction. While paying homage to Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein, Mandanna has created a finely textured study of the meaning of relationships (both friendly and familial) and of loyalty. The book runs a bit long and the ending becomes muddled by a subplot about the weavers that is allowed to achieve too much prominence, but the story is quite fascinating. From the ethical questions of life replacing life as a means to achieve immortality (a topic borrowed from Shelley) to the meaning of self for a clone, there is plenty of thought-provoking stuff here. Finally, it's nice to have some science fiction placed in India. While Mandanna doesn't really explore the local color, it is notable as India doesn't often feature in YA lit (or in sci-fi, for that matter).