Written: Brenna Yovanoff [Website]
Published: Razorbill, Hardcover
When: September 21, 2010
Obtained via: Publisher
Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie 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 slowly dying in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl named 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.
* * *
The Replacement is a book of the Others, the Fae Ones, the Creatures who live under the hill. It’s also the story of a teenage boy who feels a lot different than the rest of his friends: a little odd, a little sickly, a little strange. You may be thinking, “But doesn’t this describe every teenage boy who ever lived?” And it does.
But Mackie is different.
Mackie is a Replacement, a creature left in an empty crib the night the REAL Malcolm Doyle was taken away. Sickly from the constant touch of iron, a substance that – to Mackie – is deathly poisonous, he never should have survived to grow up in the first place. However- in a twist that resonates with me most strongly – the unconditional love of his older sister, Emma, has given Mackie the strength to reach near-adulthood. But Emma makes a deal with the creatures of the slag heap to get Mackie an otherworldly medicine for his illness, and this draws them both into a centuries-old web of lies and illusion that has haunted the town and caused the sacrifice of dozens of babies.
This book is a macabre hyperbole of teenage existence: the angst, the unhappiness with one’s parents and with where one comes from, the desire to fit in that pairs with the secret feeling that one really just doesn’t and maybe never could. That need that one feels, as you’re coming to adulthood, to prove oneself. To be a good person. To save the world. And to make out with that really cute girl/guy from English class…
Mackie struggles with all of these things throughout the book. He also deals with the ghastly but somehow piteous creatures who live beneath the slag heap, and he finds himself caught in the middle of a rivalry between two Fae sisters (though they’re never called that in the book).
Through it all, though, is that theme of love and the way it can transform us if we let it. Emma has loved Mackie enough that he still lives, years after he should have become too ill to survive. The creatures of the House of Mayhem, under the slag heap, become beautiful when they go out on stage to play music for the town and receive their adoration. Mackie’s friends love him enough to risk their lives and the safety of their town to go underground and try to rescue a missing child.
The Replacement is an excellent coming-of-age, finding-yourself tale for the YA crowd, with just the right amount of teenage angst – making it compelling to adults rather than annoying. The publisher has billed it as “Edward Scissorhands meets Catcher In the Rye” and they’re not wrong. I also love the haunting (US) cover art. The Replacement’s release date is September 21st, so you have just enough time to jot it on your shopping list and go out to pick it up!
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