Brenna Yovanoff's site
Copy obtained: UK Book Tours
Publisher: Razorbill (US), Simon Pulse (UK)
Released: Sept 2010 (US), Jan 2011 (UK)
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 his bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called 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.
I wasn't sure that The Replacement would really be my kind of book, but I actually ended up really enjoying it. Mackie is not human, but he's been raised to be. He is dying now and discovering just how strange his town really is. Mackie always knew he wasn't normal, but he didn't know what he really was. Just that he had to hide in plain sight for fear of what would happen to him otherwise. No standing out, getting noticed. Being invisible is something Mackie has been very good at. But now he has the attention of Tate. A girl who's little sister has gone missing and Tate is determined to figure it out and get her back, and she's starting by asking the one person she believes could know more than he'll say. And the attention of the other beings who live below Gentry, things no one will talk about or believe in, but constantly ward against.
I found Mackie easy to get on with and I really like him. He's not a hero, he actually backs away from certain things pretty easily. But he does want to do the right thing and agonizes over it. Mackie may not be normal, but he's plenty real enough. I think his feelings of displacement are something any teen could relate to. Tate is a really awesome character as well. Strong willed and stubborn, willing to do whatever it takes to get her sister back. I love how she pushes and challenges Mackie. Both of them, but Mackie in particular, really grow throughout the book as they deal with new obstacles and issues. There is a little romance between the two, but it's very much a sub plot and much to my joy, there are no undying declarations of love. Plenty of lust, but no love. Something very refreshing. I love the slightly awkward, but realistic drawing of their whole relationship, well before romance becomes an issue and afterwards as well. I also really loved Emma, Mackie's older 'sister,' and his best friend, Roswell.
Gentry itself is pretty creepy. At first you get the impression it's an average town, but quickly it takes on its own eerie sense of otherness. And that's before you even meet the dancing dead girls underground! They are very creepy, and very well drawn. I got somewhat sucked in to their world and had that sense of morbid fascination, I wanted to know more and go exploring.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It's not particularly fast paced, but it's not slow either and it was a very enjoyable read. Eerie, creepy, and beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Good characters and great worldbuilding. The intense ending really kept me reading and wishing there was more! Very good read and one I'd recommend.