Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Page Count: 352 pages
Genre: young adult, dark fantasy
Copy for review provided by Around the World Tours in anticipation of an honest review
50 words or less: Mackie always knew he was different from everybody else in the picture-perfect town of Gentry. When he runs into mysterious creatures who live under the hills outside of town, he's sucked into a world both foreign and familiar and has to make some tough decisions about who he really is and what that means for his future.
The Replacement is the kind of book that made me question my assumptions about what kinds of books fit in a certain genre. Certainly, the concept of a "fairy tale" is one that calls certain imagery to mind; decadence, revelry, lunacy, adventures and doublespeak are all things that pop into my head as standard issue for these kinds of stories. Well, The Replacement has all of these elements and more, and weaves them together in ways that are unexpected and sad and beautiful all at the same time.
Mackie Doyle is totally aware of his unusual state and how his relationship with the townspeople of Gentry is not all that it seems. Sixteen years ago, he was left in the place of a human baby; the baby he Replaced was never seen or heard from again. Replacements like this happen all the time in Gentry; the sacrifice of a few children every once in awhile, unbeknownst to the townspeople, is what keeps Gentry so prosperous while all of its neighbors fade away to dust and ruin.
That may have been the end of the story, and the journey towards the realization of those facts would have made for a satisfying story all on its own, but the the death of a child in the town and her older sister, Tate's, quest to find out what's really going on mean that Mackie has to decide whether he's a person with a future in the town or whether he'd be better off among the nightmares of Mayhem, the mysterious world beneath Gentry that holds all the answers (well, a bunch of them anyway...)
If you're expecting a lighthearted story about teenagers partying their cares away and a story of a guy and a girl who go all gooey for each other and live happily ever after, you'll probably want to head back to the stacks and pick out another book. Instead, The Replacement is dark, dark dark, with plenty of blood and drama. If the faeries of other books feast on sunshine and rainbows and revelry and passion, then these ones feed on blood, death, and chaos, and are pretty proud of that, thank you very much.
The overall theme of the book is definitely that things are not always as they appear, and it's in the advancing of that theme that some of my favorite things about the book were realized. There are definitely some hot button issues in this book that have caused concern for people before; smoking, drinking, sexual activity, violence, you name it. The main characters are all in high school but they engage in a variety of behaviors that wouldn't make them candidates to be considered role models. You know what though? That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this theme; in a perfect town full of perfect folks, kids are testing limits all over the place. People aren't talking about what's right in front of their face. The entire experience felt authentic and legitimate and was representative of a youth culture that felt believable and real.
My favorite scene? Tate (the girl who really is a match for Mackie in every way that matters) goes medieval on another girl who held Mackie's attention for awhile but who has since been exposed as callous, shallow, spiteful, mean and obnoxious. Is fighting okay? Nah. Is violence the way to solve problems? No, but it is a way, and to have someone confront their feelings, albeit inappropriately, is refreshing to say the least.
I could go on and on but seriously, when this book drops in September, do yourself a favor and grab a copy. With just the right combination of young adult emotion, paranormal elements, young love, mystery, and coming of age drama, this is a book I could not put down and am glad I had the opportunity to review early.
Overall Grade: A