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Kate Bond

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The Lost Girl - Sangu Mandanna What a beautiful piece of literature. Similar in plot and tone to Never Let Me Go, with the refreshing difference of this being a book about cloning that has absolutely nothing to do with organ harvesting, The Lost Girl is an enchanting and lovely look at how we, as humans, handle loss and fear of the Other.The characters, even the children, are just beautifully drawn (and most of them are not white!). Each of them has a distinct voice, and character flaws abound in a way that feels really natural. The female characters are somewhat better developed than the male, but that's a pretty minor problem. Having Eva see so little of Sean, her wonderful love interest, short-changed the reader a bit, but the construction of the love triangle (how bored am I of love triangles?) was done really well and in a way that felt absolutely necessary to the story."I'd rather spend the rest of my life without ever seeing you again," he says, "than watch them destroy you because of me." And the prose! So lovely! I mean, who writes lines like that for 16-year-old boys? That scene absolutely broke my heart and because of it Eva's spiral downward in India (and her relationship with Ray), made me ache with the loss of what she might have had.I absolutely loved every aspect of this novel except the worldbuilding. When I read The Passage, a 766-page behemoth of a novel about government-created mutant vampires, the end of the world, and the one little girl who can't die, barely ages, can communicate psychically with said vampire creatures, and is our only hope for salvation, I never for a second thought, "Yeah, right." My disbelief remained suspended through every single crazy fucking thing that happened because it all felt grounded in reality, and when something didn't make sense, Cronin either kept it vague or hung a lantern on it so we were all on the same page.So I was frustrated when The Lost Girl which takes place in a relatively simple, believable future, continuously stretched my credulity. I just did not understand how...well, here is a brief list of some of the things I do not understand:1) Why and how do the Weavers have their own laws that transcend continents and governments?2) How does this work in a country like India where echoes are illegal? Surely there are police reports and shit like that that render the charade useless? I'll buy that in countries where it's legal certain processes might be in place, but otherwise, not happening.3) The mark on the back of the neck thing is just dumb if the whole point is to keep the echoes a secret. I mean, come on.4) Why doesn't Eva just tell the students who are bullying her that SHE LIED TO THEM BECAUSE OTHERWISE SHE WOULD DIE? It seems like they might understand that.5) Why is an attractive teenage boy one year older than Eva allowed to become one of her guardians if it's illegal for her to date or kiss or anything?6) Why does that one dude wear a chain mail vest on top of his clothes to protect him from knife wounds?Ultimately I think I just wish this novel had been written more like how an Ursula K. Le Guin or a Ray Bradbury might have done it: with a stronger grasp on building an alternate world in which the reader's disbelief may be truly suspended for the duration of the story. I think the strength of the characters and the prose really go a long way to make up for that weakness, though, and I hope the author expands upon this world moving forward--either by continuing the story of Eva and Sean or by writing about new echoes.So Little Sleeping