Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Sept 2010, Razorbill (imprint of Penguin USA)
343 pages, Hardback
Personal copy

YA Urban Fantasy
Occasional graphic(ish) violence/blood, sporadic strong language, teen almost-sex,
heavy issues, lots and lots of iron.

Summary from Penguin:

Something's rotten beneath the town of Gentry...

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.

Amy's thoughts:
Another stunningly-rendered debut. What's with the excellent YA fantasy lately, people? I want to be a teenager again so I have good teenage books to read, instead of having to snooch the adult fantasy books! *ahem* Transition.

The shortest, most convincing summary I can give of this book is this: If you like faerie lore (not fairy lore), this book is For You. Yovanoff explores the implications of sacrifice and truth in a world where the fae - the Others, Them, whatever name you want to use - are responsible for Gentry's good fortune, and where children go missing and are replaced by something inhuman. No one links the two aloud - but everyone knows what happens once every seven years.

Faerie lore, ftw.

It's pretty clear what happens to the stolen children. But what about the replacements, the ones who were cast off by the fae? The ones who are now bound to live in a steel-clad world where even their family are uneasy around them, where a deathly allergy to iron is impossible to escape, where the best thing you can do is to be - no one. What about them?

Mackie is just that: a replacement. He knows it, his family knows it, but no one is ever, ever allowed to talk about it. Because that would violate the most fundamental rule of Gentry: never look, so you won't see what you don't want to know. His entire mission in life is to be invisible in the crowd, to not stand out, to know no one, to get close to know one; but he's a teenage boy in high school, and everyone needs to be loved.

This is a beautiful, beautiful book about all the dark things in life. It's about how easy it is to look the other way when bad things happen, it's about knowing who you are and where you belong, it's about forgiving yourself for things you can't change, and most of all, it's overwhelmingly about the real, life-giving power of love. Because everyone deserves to be loved.

The cover of the book says it all. The Replacement is dark and eerie, hauntingly beautiful, vividly imagined, and full of characters who really, truly are. There are no bad guys, and no good guys: just people trying to do what they think is right. Some people think it's right to ignore the bad things that happen; Mackie, with the help of his friends, learns otherwise.

Final conclusion:
A hauntingly beautiful book about 'ugly things', as Maggie Stiefvater says in her blurb; The Replacement is dark, eerie, and oh-so-satisfying.

To find out more about the author, visit Brenna Yovanoff's website. There's also the shiny book trailer.

If you like this, you might like White Cat by Holly Black.


Krispy said...

I totally agree with your review! I just finished this book last week, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the themes and the setting, and I loved Mackie!

Amy Laurens said...

High five! I'm glad you enjoyed it too - it's SUCH a fun book. *shivers gleefully* Bwa ha!