Monday, October 4, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

I'm trying a bit of a new format for reviews -- adding in a little extra (and I'm hoping to add a rating system soon) -- let me know what you think! (please)

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

And here's what I thought:  I had been waiting and waiting for this book!  I kept seeing little bits about it around the blogosphere, and had ordered it for our library .... and then it finally arrived!  And I wasn't disappointed!   I really liked how Brenna Yovanoff took the idea of a changeling and made it the foundation for her story.  In this book, we experience everything through the eyes of Mackie, who is a changeling (a/k/a a Replacement) who was swapped for a human child sixteen years before.   Although he's been trying to fit in, as he gets older, it seems more and more difficult.  People in Mackie's town know about the "others" around them, and how children disappear.   When Mackie finally meets one of his own kind, he's intrigued (and a little daunted); does he belong with them, or with his human family?   Definitely makes you think about the usual issues of not fitting in, and finding yourself. 

I liked how the author brought folklore and history and wove it through the story.   For example, when Mackie is talking with his sister, Emma, about their town and the "Others," and the whole concept of human sacrifice (in their town, the swapping of infants for changelings) Emma tells him about how historically, this isn't unusual. She points out that Germanic tribes had something similar, and so did the Druids; that prosperity rituals, like what happens in their town every seven years, have a common history with other places.  Emma's smart, and it's obvious that what she's been learning is so that she can understand her world.  Mackie even says (p. 125), "Her room was a private library of answers, trying to help me, save me, decode me.  It was just another part of what made her beautiful."
That was one of the things I really enjoyed about this book, in addition to the great storytelling and rich writing: the characters.  They are well-written and interesting, and I cared about them (not just about the main character).  Mackie is sympathetic and stoic, even when the world around him is making him sicker and sicker.  And I've already mentioned Emma -- she's smart and not afraid to risk her own safety to help Mackie.  Tate's one of the characters I really liked.  She's unusual, and she's not worried about the fact that she's different from other kids (although not in the way that Mackie is).  Her baby sister has gone missing, so she's got issues of her own.  She's also tough.  One of the descriptions of her in the book that stood out to me was on p. 221, where another girl is picking a fight with Tate, and hits her in the face.  "Blood spurted from Tate's nose, gushing down over the front of her shirt.  She did nothing for a second.  Then she smiled, which, when someone is covered in blood, is basically the most terrifying things they can do."   I was completely intrigued with Tate, and I liked how Mackie approached her, and got to know her.

This definitely was a new take on the usual fairy tale, and was a really enjoyable read.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's next from this author.

Thoughts on the cover: Some of the coolest cover art I've seen in a long time -- it was part of what intrigued me about this book a long time ago.  I love how it has a moody/creepy feel, with the empty pram with things like scissors and a knife dangling over it.  Kinda like a mobile for a really scary baby.

First line of the book: "I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have."


Amelia said...

Hey Jo! Awesome review. Emma was definitely my favorite character! I thought Tate was a little "intense" for my taste, though, but I'm glad you liked her! I liked the way she interacted with Mackie.
I think it would be cool if you got a rating system, but I like your reviews just the way they are, too! Whichever :)

Sugar and Snark said...

Great review! I can't wait to pick this up :)

Unknown said...

Just hopping by! Great review, I've been waiting for this book too, I can't wait till my library gets it!

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