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 ...more 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.
Details: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, 352 pages, 3.76 stars on Goodreads
Why I Picked This Up: Look at that beautiful cover, and you should have your answer. But for this particular book, of course, it was a little bit more than love at first sight. The synopsis sounded absolutely chilling and I'd read reviews where it was described as creepy and ominous, so naturally I had to get this as soon as possible. This was all the way at the top of my to-read list!
Characters: This book is the very definition of different, and its characters are no exception. Mackie was quite possibly the most real and surreal character I've ever read about. He was strange, and even though he wasn't human, he felt human in certain ways. As a "replacement child", he was supposed to die, but somehow he made it through high school. But despite this, Mackie is dying because of his allergy of iron, which is present in more places than I ever thought it was.
I love the depth to which Mackie is developed. Obviously he's different from most people, but his relationships with his friends, his sister, his parents, and his girlfriend are so real and human-like, and I appreciate that they weren't forced even though he's not actually human. He struggled with issues and had feelings and emotions, so he was still easy to relate to, and I really felt for him as I read this.
His family was fascinating as well. Of course with something as difficult as what he is, he doesn't have the most normal family, but I liked that they at least appeared to love him and care about him. The book had me guessing throughout most of it, and I'm still not entirely certain that they truly love him, but they weren't straight-out unsupportive or "bad" parents. They tried, at least. Mackie's sister was the most interesting of the rest of his family in that she was really the one who saved him from dying when he was a baby. She was his protector for most of his life, even though she was just a little girl when her "real" brother was stolen away.
I think my favorite characters would have to be Morrigan and the rest of the dead lot. They were creepy and sent chills through me over and over again, with the vivid and gruesome descriptions of them, but I appreciated the fact that the author didn't shy away from anything. She told it like it was, and the story was better for it.
Plot: This was without a doubt the most original book I've read all year. It had fairies in it, or at least fairy-like people, but trust me, this was not Glimmerglass. (Not that I have anything against Glimmerglass - I actually really enjoyed that book. But anyway.) The Replacement was definitely creepy and ominous, and it brought "dark" to entirely new levels. This wasn't dark like forbidden-love or sexually-abused-child - this was dark like pitch black, middle of the night, what the hell is happening dark.
I wouldn't really call this a scary or horror book. I don't think this was written with the intent to terrify, and it didn't actually frighten me. It made me think, and more than that, it made me feel. I felt in a way I can't even really describe, when I read this book, and that's part of what made this book so wonderful.
Gentry and Morrigan and the Slag Heap were described in horrible detail, and I loved it. The author wasn't afraid to tell us point blank about their decomposing bodies, things that will send revulsion through you, and yet it's terribly delightful. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but if you are, I encourage you to read it anyway.
The only complaint I would make about The Replacement is that I didn't feel like the story was fully explored. I wanted to know more about the Slag Heap and less about the whole Alice-teen-drama thing, and the ending just felt kind of rushed to me.
First Line: I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have.
Cover: Such a beautiful cover. I love the grayish tones of the fog in the background because they really add to the mysterious, ominous air of the book without actually using very dark colors. The ornate baby carriage is depicted in perfect detail, with the surreal-looking weapons dangling above it adding a nice touch. Even the title is great, bright-red letters right there without being too obtrusive.
Overall: This book is eerie and beautiful and ugly somehow, and that makes it perfect. It's truly dark, and if you're a fan of Tim Burton, you'll probably love this. The words are gorgeous, and this is a book I can honestly say I would read over and over again, and I usually hate reading books a second time. The only downside is that the ending is rushed and I feel like more could have been explored. Regardless, I think everyone should read this.
Plot - 5/5
Writing - 4/5
Characters - 4.5/5
Impact - 4/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5
Overall - 82% = A-