Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

 

Title: The Replacement

Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Publisher:  Razorbill

ISBN: 9781595143372

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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.

Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

This was so not what I was expecting, but that turned out to be a good thing.  Many times, when you see a cover for a book or read a blurb about it, you build an incorrect expectation about it.  In this case, the read was better than I imagined.  I was not expecting a vulnerable protagonist searching for a place he belonged.  The Replacement is a gripping read, with a very likable lead, a little touch of horror, and an emotionally fulfilling coming of age story.  I read it in a couple of hours, and was literally glued to the sofa until I reached the last page.

Mackie is a young man who doesn’t belong.  Anywhere.  He has a secret, and it’s one that might destroy him.  He is a Replacement; he was left in the crib of a human baby who was snatched in the middle of the night by very scary creatures.  Mackie has to keep a low profile and he must stay hidden in plain sight so that the people of Gentry don’t suspect that he is anything other than human.  With his violent reactions to blood and iron, it is surprising that nobody has caught on.  His skin starts to blister if he steps on consecrated ground, making life even more difficult for him; his family, like many of the townspeople, are active in the church, a place where Mackie can never enter.

Man, this kid has it rough!  Iron is poison to him, and when you think about it, iron is in pretty much everything.  He’s sick all the time, the smell of blood is like kryptonite, and he is under pressure to just be normal.  But in Gentry, what does that mean?  There is no normal here, but everyone is skilled at pretending that it is.  Children aren’t being snatched away in the middle of the night, replaced with creatures that aren’t human.  That’s just not happening.  Gentry is a prosperous town, and it is quickly apparent that there is a horrible price to be paid for its good fortune.

When a classmate’s sister is snatched away in the night, Mackie starts to learn the sinister truth about himself and the place where he lives.  When he learns that Tate’s sister is alive, but soon to be sacrificed by the dark creatures of Gentry’s underworld, he has choice to make.  Pretend that everything is all peachy and let a little girl be murdered, or take a stand, find the courage  and the strength to save her, and quite possibly put himself in danger instead.  Like the townspeople who live around him, Mackie sees that it is easier to do nothing and to pretend that nothing is wrong.  But can he live with himself if Tate’s sister is murdered?

Despite a few pacing issues, I thought The Replacement was a great read.  I loved Mackie, especially when he made a bad decision, realized that he’d made a mistake, and then did everything in his power to make things right. The Mackie at the end of the book is a far more mature version of himself than at the beginning, and the character growth was convincing and felt real.  I can hardly wait to read more by Brenna Yovanoff.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by We Love YA Tours

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker YA Fiction Review



Title: A Match Made in High School

Author: Kristin Walker

Publisher: Razorbill

ISBN:  9781595142573

Yup, it’s another 2010 Debut Author!  This is also the first Razorbill title that I’ve read.  The book is a fast read, and I did enjoy it, but it took me a while to warm up the heroine.

From Amazon:

When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. That’s until she marries her “husband”: jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very dorky, very big Johnny Mercer.

Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

Fiona spits fire with almost every sentence, and her defense mechanism is in hyper drive.  I did not bond with her until half way through the book.  She considers herself very unlucky, but that’s not really her problem.  She has built this wall around herself that even a rampaging band of orcs would fail to penetrate.  Each run-in she has is due to her inability to just let things go.  She has to one up everyone, and though her pranks turn out to be pretty amusing, they certainly don’t help her win any friends. It takes the wisdom of an eleven year old to make her realize that maybe she needs to change.  After that life altering event, the book became much more accessible for me.

I loved the character development in A Match Made in High School.  Once Fiona realizes that maybe, just maybe, she might be part of the reason she doesn’t have very many friends, I was able to get behind her and cheer her on.  Learning to forgive, and learning when to forget, are difficult but valuable life lessons, and as soon as Fiona starts to try being a good friend and peer, it makes a dramatic change for her.  Things still aren’t perfect, but when are they ever?  Even her most challenging relationships improve, which allows her to be happier.

A Match Made in High School is a fun look at the importance of communication and learning to accept the flaws in yourself.  Once prickly Fiona learns that it’s better to use honey to attract bees, she sees that even the ugliest of weeds can be hiding a beautiful blossom.

Grade: B+