Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Page Count: 432
Tagline: "Her life begins when another one ends."
Would Appeal To: Fans of Jodi Meadows' Incarnate, anyone who likes a well-crafted story, anyone who has experienced the death of someone close
"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."
"His voice is quiet, but it reminds me of thunder. Thunder tightly boxed. It makes me afraid of what will happen if the box is broken."
"There are tears creeping down her face, leaving glistening trails like the wet left behind by a snail."
"It's fitting that the feathers are so ragged, unformed. Fitting for an angel the gods want to tear from the sky, who must ride on a bird until her broken wings heal."
"'For someone who died,' I mutter at an imaginary Amarra, 'you've done a very good job of hanging around.' But maybe that's what the dead do. They stay. They linger. Benign and sweet and painful. They don't need us. They echo all by themselves."
"That night, as I lie in bed, my thoughts start to look like a ballroom. It's painted the color of burnished silver, the color of a Bangalore sky after the rains. In this ballroom there are angels and monsters, and Seans, and Rays, and echoes and others...and families distorted in broken mirrors, and they are waltzing, to and fro, with one another."
Why You Should Read This Book:
- The story is impressively creative. A group called the Weavers has created life on their own for 200 years. They've learned how to stitch life out of dust and infuse that life with bits of another person. Although it's illegal in places like India, people can order an echo of their loved one to replace that person after he or she has died. The echo's job is to study her other's life; eat the same foods, learn her favorites, love the same boys. The main character, Eva, spends her life across the world in England doing all of these things. She has guardians who look after her. She has her own thoughts and feelings, and even falls in love with a boy that her other, Amarra, might never choose. When Amarra is in a car accident, Eva has to take her place, leave behind her entire existence to replace this girl. And if she makes a mistake, she can be unstitched and Amarra's parents could be imprisoned. I'm in love with the concept. The Weavers are humans, yet they haven't perfected the creation of life, not until they learn how to change someone's soul from body to body. Adrian, the power-hungry Weaver, wants to do this, but has not yet been successful. Because echoes aren't treated like humans and are generally feared, Eva has a secluded life in the country with Mina Ma and her guardians. The author did a great job with world building. The terms were easy to grasp and I didn't find any contradictions within the plot about rules or laws.
- The settings transport the reader. The reader gets to spend time in both India and England. I don't know that much about India, so the sights and sounds of a busy country with markets and rickshaws riding the streets was interesting to imagine. Eva ends up traveling to different places in England, and it's also obvious the author has lived there. Her details are realistic, and the settings don't overshadow the story.
- The outcast is the perfect point of view. Eva is such an outcast that she's even had to name herself. Because the story is from her viewpoint, readers are able to experience her up and down emotions. We also come across discoveries about laws at the same time as she does, especially since her guardians have chosen what not to share with her for the sake of protection. She's never been to a zoo. She's not allowed to leave the general area. She's homeschooled until she has to replace Amarra in India. Then there's the constanst pressure of being like Amarra so her friends don't find out and call the police, or her familiars, Alisha and Neil, don't issue a Sleep Order because they are displeased by Eva's imitation of their daughter. I appreciate that Eva is true to character; because she has been so sheltered, she doesn't have the same "street smarts" that other characters do. Although she can be quick thinking, she also is naive. She does, however, see her plight paralleled: in her dreams, from parables Mina Ma tells, in students at school, which makes her observant in a way other fifteen year olds would not be.
- Ethical questions are presented at every turn. This is a time when humans have the ability to create life. Just because an echo isn't human, does that mean everyone has a right to act more superior and treat her poorly when she too has thoughts and feelings; but of course, that's not how the ordinary public views it, including Ray, Amarra's old boyfriend. Should Eva be punished for wishing to live her own life with her own love?
- Characters' reactions to death are wide ranging. Just as in real life, everyone reacts differently to Amarra's death. Mina Ma is overjoyed because that means Eva will be safe living someone else's life. Eva is distraught to leave behind the only life she's known. Alisha sees her daughter in Eva and lives in a fantasy world where her daughter has not been taken from her. Ray cannot cope with his emotions.
- There were a few parts where the action slowed about 2/3 of the way in that made it easy to put down the book and come back. Overall, I kept wanting to read to find out Eva's fate.
- The ending was rather open-ended, and I'm not sure whether there are plans for a sequel.
Sangu Mandanna has crafted a gorgeous debut that addresses the tough questions about rights of the living. A fiercely independent female is forced to be what society deems her; an emotionless, humble servant who must hide her feelings to pretend to be someone she's not. Riddled with roadblocks, Eva's quest for identity continues to bring her back to those who loved her in her old life, especially one boy with green eyes who is forbidden.