The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

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Author’s website
Publication date – September 21, 2010

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) 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.

Thoughts: Yovanoff weaves a fantastic tale here about the darker side of what we often think of as faeries but could well also be called demons, gods, or any number of things. That, actually, is part of the point of the novel, mixed and mingled with philosophy about belief being what gives these creatures any power to begin with, no matter what they’re called. It’s an interesting take on mythology and how it plays in the modern world, and I liked it!

Stylistically, Yovanoff’s got some distinction here. I’ve read some YA novels that could have been written by anybody, for all that their style stood out. This, I’m happy to say, was not one of those books. She plays with stream-of-consciousness, with nonstandard descriptors, and with a slightly depressive feeling that suits the plot and the character of the book quite well.

I also loved how the darker secrets of the town were not really secrets. Everyone knew about them, but the code of silence kept anyone from speaking out or doing anything. I was expecting that people would just be rationalizing everything away, that nobody would guess anything’s that odd about Mackie or the death of Tate’s sister, but no, that wasn’t the case. People knew, and they averted their eyes because things were as they had always been, and that was just how it was. Whether they complained about it or believed it really was for the best, it still was.

That whole situation was underscored by an exchange near the end of the novel, when Mackie asks if, after the demise of the Lady, the town would cease to be as good as it had been. He’s asked in return if it was ever good, at least in his memory. Simple lines, simple questions, but with a powerful meaning behind them, and that is the essence of what makes Yovanoff so damn good at this! She knows how to condense complicated issues into poignant questions and observations that make you think about them instead of just telling a story that leads you along by the hands and gives you convenient recaps along the way. You’ve got to have a good understanding of subtleties, of philosophy and the nature of existence and mythology and psychology to appreciate all of the little twists and turns and questions that come up over the course of the 300+ pages.

This is definitely a book worth recommending. If darker intelligent YA urban fantasy is your thing, then definitely grab a copy of The Replacement, and be prepared for something that will leave you a little bit sadder, wiser, and older when it’s all said and done.

One comment on “The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

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