Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: The Replacement (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
Synopsis (Product Description):
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.
Quick & Dirty: The concept of this book is intriguing, but it fails to coalesce into something really captivating.
Opening Sentence: I don’t remember any of the true, important parts, but there’s this dream I have.
The small town of Gentry is unusual to say the least. Some of Gentry’s children have been replaced by doppelgangers. The real children are never heard from again, and the good people of Gentry act as if nothing is amiss. Mackie Doyle is a Replacement. He’s a changeling, struggling to survive in the human world. Iron, blood, and consecrated ground are deadly to him. Mackie sets out on a journey to find answers about what’s really going on in Gentry, his past, and how he will survive the future.
The Replacement started out strong. I love the premise and really wanted to experience this dark, creepy and twisted world. Ultimately, The Replacement didn’t work for me. I like Ms. Yovanoff’s stylistic prose. Some of the descriptions and passages were over the top, and at times the writing was choppy, but for the most part very good. Unfortunately, I found myself frustrated as the story progressed. Many story elements were too vague. The esoteric world-building left a lot to be desired; leaving the reader with more questions than answers.
I vacillated over whether I even liked Mackie Doyle. His whole emo routine really grates on my nerves. At one point, I remember thinking – damn, Mackie. Grow a “set” why don’t you! Ms. Yovanoff seems to have run into a problem writing an authentic male protagonist. Aside from having a boy’s name, Mackie essentially behaves like a teenaged girl. Much of his skulking around is self imposed, and much ado about nothing. Ironically, Mackie loathes some of the adults for being weak and not standing up to the truth and just going along to get along, while he himself behaves in the same way. Mackie is just too weak of a character for my taste.
The surrounding cast of characters aren’t particularly noteworthy or unique. Roswell, Mackie’s best friend, brings nothing to the story. He’s a very one dimensional character. Tate, Mackie’s dismal love interest, is a total nightmare. Mackie and Tate share a very awkward emotional attachment, and I for one never bought into it. I didn’t think that any of their interactions built on a believable romantic relationship. Her brashness, aggressive and erratic behavior didn’t endear her to me and I found her to be quite annoying.
A few elements of the world-building were essential. Gentry, The House of Mayhem and The House of Misery all play a significant role and I wish they were more developed. The “villains” in this story are underwhelming. They aren’t all that resourceful, powerful, smart or particularly determined. The Lady and The Cutter both fail to intimidate. It’s clear to see that their convenient weakness serves as an all too apparent plot device. The dark creatures just didn’t live up to their purpose.
Overall, The Replacement is just a so-so read. Too many characters with unconvincing motivations and underdeveloped mythology hurt what could have been a great supernatural story. The readers must suspend too much disbelief when incredibly weak characters prevail over the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps. While it was an intriguing premise, I found The Replacement slow-moving, and the characters uninteresting.
The door was there almost at once, so dull and worn out that it was almost invisible. There was no handle, so I knocked and stepped back. For a second, nothing happened, but then the outline flared from inside, lit with a warm glow. From far away, I heard the sound of bells and was blindsided by a strange feeling of inevitability. The hill had always been there, looming over the park, right there on the other side of the fence. Waiting for me.
When the door swung open, no one was waiting in the entryway. Glass lanterns lit the corridor in two rows. The panes were set in a network of lead, arranged in fancy diamond patterns. When I pushed my way inside, the door swung closed behind me. The knife lay on the floor and I bent and picked it up.
The Lady’s hill was nothing like Mayhem. The walls were paneled in dark, polished wood, with an intricately tiled floor and carved baseboards. Everything was clean and symmetrical and shiny. Stained glass windows hung in rectangular alcoves along the hall, the pictures lit from behind with oil lamps. The air smelled nice, like cut grass and spices.
The Replacement Series:
FTC Advisory: Penguin Group provided me with a copy of The Replacement. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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