Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.

Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books.
Paperback, 240 pages.
Release date: Jan 6th 2011.
Rating: 2½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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.

Brenna Yovanoff’s The Replacement is a dark and twisted gothic fairytale that will take you on a murky journey through the dark underworld of a small town called Gentry. Though the premise here, the story of a changeling from a faerie world, is nothing new, Yovanoff’s tale nonetheless adds something  a little different to the YA genre. Her idea is innovative, and the story is eerie and haunting in parts. For me, this one fell flat for a number of reasons. While the story starts out well, the characterisation is off, and the plot fails to take hold. Unfortunately I found this all a little predictable and unsatisfying in the end.

Initially, I was intrigued by the premise of this book, and by the inclusion of a male protagonist. If you read a lot of YA fiction, you’ll know that a male protagonist is a somewhat rare thing. I was excited to read a book from the male point of view, but I couldn’t warm to Mackie Doyle, and I questioned why Yovanoff decided to use a male protagonist when there was nothing really very manly about him at all. As a Replacement from another world Mackie struggles to live in our world. He is slowly dying, and weakened from his allergies to blood and iron. Like everybody else in Gentry, Mackie knows that all is not right in the town. Every seven years, a child goes missing, and is replaced by something that’s not quite human. And like everybody else in Gentry, Mackie turns an blind eye to this until pushed to help out his crush, Tate, when her little sister goes missing.

Can I just point out the relationship between Mackie and Tate? One word - Awkward! This pairing didn’t work for me at all. Tate is pushy and rude, and I truly struggled to find any connection between her and Mackie or to understand his attraction to her. Similarly, Mackie’s friends are all pretty one-dimensional. Nobody stood out for me and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. However, there is human element here in addition to the paranormal slant of the story that I liked. Mackie is an outsider, and his struggle to fit in is touching at times. The underlying message of the importance of love and friendship, and Mackie’s relationship with his sister, Emma, were possibly my favourite parts of this book.

Yovanoff’s writing shows promise, and I found her creation of a murky underworld and it's hidden meanings interesting and reminiscent to similar themes in the work of David Lynch. The story moves at a slow pace, and while unsettling and even horrific at times, I felt that the plot was also disjointed and quite inconsistent in places. The underworld and it’s players are truly freaky and grotesque, but the storyline definitely drifted into mundane territory for me and was somewhat predictable. There were underlying messages on humanity and human motivations that added a rich element to the story, but overall these were not enough to save the book for me.   This one just didn’t hold my interest.  I know that a lot of people have enjoyed The Replacement, but it wasn’t for me.


  1. It's in my pile... I can't wait to read it !! =)

  2. I am hoping to read this book before the year is up, but we will see!

  3. I like this cover much more than the baby carriage one. :)

  4. Yup, I pretty much agree with everything you said here. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, Mackie and Tate's relationship was...ee icky, and I was just never really grabbed by the story. I enjoyed parts of it very much, but overall I didn't love it.

  5. I've read such mixed reviews on this one. I don't really know what to think. Ultimately though, I think the "not so great" reviews, like this one, are sticking with me more than the positive ones so I'll probably skip this.

  6. I have this book lying on my shelf for quite some time. I have to read it in 2011. I have seen mixed reviews of this one.

  7. It's too bad you didn't like it and based on the mixed reviews, I'm getting this one from the library.

  8. I'm sorry to see you didn't like this one all that much! I really enjoyed it, but I can see where you are coming from. The relationships are either hit or miss for the reader. Great honest review though, Leanna! :)

  9. Beautiful review Leanna, I felt much the same way about this one. I though the message was great, but the story was a bit lacking and I didn't understand the Mackie/Tate relationship. Still enjoyed reading it though:)

  10. Thanks for the honest review. I am going to skip out on this one.....but I must admit that this cover is MUCH better than the disturbing baby carriage one!

  11. I'm sad that you didn't like this one all that much hun :( It sounds like my kind of book though so I'll still be checking it out! Appreciate your honest thoughts though :)

  12. I actually loved this one, so it's really interesting to read about the problems you had with it. I do agree that there were some inconsistencies in the characterisation, but the story really got under my skin. For me the relationship between Mackie and Tate worked, but I definitely agree that Mackie's relationship with Emma is one of the strongest aspects of the book. I hadn't thought about the similarity to David Lynch's work, but now you mention it, this one does remind me of Twin Peaks a little - and it's equally disturbing. Thanks for an interesting review. :)

  13. i just got this from the library...It's nice to read your honest review, but I'm definitely still excited to read this. Have you seen the other cover, one of the best of the year for sure.

    New follower...


  14. You know what, I think I'm dying to read this but more because I'm interested in the world that she creates and not the actual characters of the book. I'm a huge fan of gothic fairytales, so I'd really love to experience the atmosphere of the book. Wonderful review Leanna - sorry it didn't quite live up to your expectations!

  15. Hmm...though this cover is more personal, I think I like the US one more. Sorry to see it wasn't a match for you reading wise....great review nonetheless. Happier reading next time around.... ^_^

  16. I like reading about changelings but I just don't think male POVs are for me. Great review nonetheless!


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