SJ's Reviews > The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
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Mar 26, 2014

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Read from March 15 to 21, 2014

2.5 stars. Really freaking disappointed!

Some light spoilers below...

I'm just so incredibly angry at this book! It was so very close to being amazing, and it fell so spectacularly flat for me by the end that I feel a bit betrayed by the whole thing.

Here's how it works... A small but immensely rich and powerful group of 3 scientists have found a way to engineer clones. The clones are raised separate to their original selves and brought up to study their lives in every detail using books and videos and journal logs. The intention is that if the original dies, the clone will replace them seamlessly. There even appears to be a dim psychic connection between the clone and the original, (similar to that documented in twins) though this is not fully explained.

The problem is that the clone is essentially a living breathing and separate person with their own will, including a separate set of hopes and desires that they spend their whole upbringing trying to suppress.  If the clone doesn't manage to assimilate the requires information, if they try to run away or if they are placed in their families, at any time a kill order can be arranged, as the clones are thought of as soulless animated dolls. Pretty harsh stuff. As a result of all the ethical aspects of the whole system, this process is very mysterious and illegal in some countries, not to mention that the nut jobs of the world feel that it is their duty to hunt and kill all of the clones they find.

For a geek like me, this is a great start to a storyline. But so very much of the actual story had gigantic holes in it for me from the start. For one, I don't buy that parents would buy into this whole process. Families will always know the difference between their child and a replacement, and while in a moment of grief someone might try to convince themselves that the clone is real, I think ultimately they would resent the clone for being an imprecise copy. The book touches on this, which I appreciated, but I don't think it explained people's willingness to sign up for the whole scenario. But maybe as a childless person, I don't know what I'm talking about. This benefit of the doubt made me stick with the story.

The writing itself is good. It was the plot that kept my eyes rolling. For example, how does a young man who is working for the cloning operation get permission to know about this top secret process, much less to seamlessly take his grandfather's place working for the organisation when the grandfather passes away? Surely the powers that be wouldn't allow a young attractive man to have interactions with the top secret clone, as the only age appropriate man in her life is bound to be one that she forms undesirable attachments for? They are smart enough to clone people, so they must be smart enough to work that into their complicated protocols! The logistics around a kill order are ridiculous... I don't dare say too much there for fear of a major spoiler, but I think the whole system is needlessly bizarre. And how much can someone really get from journal entries and videos??

So what you get with this book is a real page turner as you try to work out what will happen. You get some ethical debates and the writing itself is fine. But these constant plot turns feel so fake and (for me anyhow) not true to the human experience to the point that by the end I was pulling my hair out wanting to shake the author for making a mess of what was almost something really great.

I am probably being unfair with the number of stars I've given, as the writing itself and the pace was good. But my irritation at a good story being rendered silly by what I perceived to be bad decisions made me feel like I had no choice.
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Reading Progress

03/15/2014 marked as: currently-reading
03/21/2014 marked as: read

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