Friday, October 15, 2010

The Replacement


Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is just an ordinary teenager with ordinary dreams-- get hot head cheerleader Alice Harm to notice him and play bass guitar.  Except that he isn't.  He lives in the small town of Gentry, a prosperous and pleasant town where nothing bad ever happens.  Except that it isn't-- that's the lie They want you to believe.  Gentry is a town of eerie walking corpses and unconsecrated graves, a place where children are stolen from their cribs and the local band is far more sinister without their crazy stage make-up.  There's a whole world beneath the Gentry slap heaps, a world of 'tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a tattooed little princess' (Book jacket)  A world called Mayhem.  It's where Mackie Doyle comes from, the world where the real Mackie Doyle was stolen away to as a baby and sacrificed to a bloodthirsty witch, the embodiment of Terror herself.  Mackie has lived in Gentry with his 'adoptive' family for sixteen long years and he is slowly dying, wasting away beneath the suffocating iron of the human world.  He might be dead already, if not for his sister Emma, who nursed him back to health again and again though she knew this Mackie is not her brother.  He is the Replacement, one of the People beneath the slag heaps. 
Mackie has spent his whole life denying the truth he sees in the mirror: in his black eyes and terrible allergies to blood and the consecrated ground of the church.  But when an extremely irritating and yet very intriguing girl at his high school, Tate, loses her sister to the same sinister race that left Mackie in the baby's crib, Mackie and his friends are forced to confront the truth.  Because there's definitely something rotten going down beneath Gentry.  Evil plots and age-old battles being waged beneath the grime of the slag heaps.  And if Mackie and Tate want to rescue her sister before All Souls' Night, when she is to be sacrificed to pay an ancient toll, they're going to have to descend into Mayhem and outsmart the immortal and inhuman residents of a town most unlike their own. 
I bought The Replacement for two reasons: because faerie and dark faerie stories are some of my favorites, and because of the cover.  It's beautiful and intriguing, capturing both the sinister nature of the story and the dark beauty of Brenna Yovanoff's writing.  The cover features a quote from Maggie Stiefvater (author of Shiver and the Faerie Queen's Lament, etc): "I loved this eerie and beautiful story of ugly things.  It should be read aloud after dark, at a whisper."  No one could have said it better-- The Replacement is eerie and hauntingly lovely, surprising and a touch disturbing.  It is a horror story, and a dark faerie tale which reminded me somewhat of Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tale books. 
Mackie Doyle is definitely one of the more complex and intriguing protagonists I've read about recently.  He is at once a relatively normal teenage guy mostly concerned with girls and friends and a boy who feels like a stranger in the world around him.  Most people feel like that at least sometimes, and this is where The Replacement reveals itself to be truly deeper than the cover synopsis.  It is not just a book about a scary faerie race who steal away children, but also a story about finding where you belong, and who you are.  At times the book can be gory and haunting, but it is several cuts above most YA novels dealing with the supernatural.  I particularly liked Roswell, Mackie's best friend, and, of course, Tate.  She is as capricious and daring as the Mayhem people themselves, and possibly still more vicious when it comes to defending her friends and family.  Her determination to save her sister is powerful and utterly convincing.  The romance between Mackie and Tate is perfectly played out and never feels like an idealist Bella/Edward kind of relationship.  I'm really looking forward to reading more books by Brenna Yovanoff and hoping that they will be as brilliant as this entrancing debut novel!  The Replacement is also rare in that it's a book which can be enjoyed equally by girl and guy readers.  Amazing all the way; creepy enough to make you think twice about who or what you might encounter while walking home alone after dark.
Watch the awesome book trailer for The Replacement from Youtube...


Faye said...

YAY! i can't wait 2 start this!

Tiger Holland said...

Blog-hopping by to visit and follow! I agree that this was a great debut novel. I wasnt' really a fan of Tate because she stayed so angry, but I do think that overall, this is a book that most YA readers (guys included!) would like.


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