The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror# of pages: 343 (ARC)
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: 15+
My Thoughts:I absolutely adored the originality of The Replacement. I think the fact that this is the author's first published book is phenomenal. The story's major strength was in its imagery and attention to detail. The eerie town of Gentry and the House of Mayhem under the slag heap were so detailed, so vividly imaginative, that it turned Replacement from a fun book to an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride.
The characters were also fleshed out very well and very creepily, I might add. The Morrigan and the "creatures" of her court were so hideously delightful, unlike anything I've read before. I liked how they were portrayed, too. They weren't evil, and yet they were so creepy and so ominous that you couldn't help but feel apprehensive. Side note: Don't you just love it when books make you FEEL? Though the story deals with 'changelings' I liked how The Replacement seemed to have its own original, tailor-made folklore. Never once did the word 'faerie' get attached to any of the characters, therefore I felt like I was reading a brand-spanking new take on an old concept. I'm almost positive you haven't read anything like this before.
As to the MC himself, Mackie Doyle is one of the most endearing, likable and heroic guys I've seen in YA fiction in a loooooooong time. You could not find a better guy to root for in a story like this. His voice is perfect.
All these things being said...
I would be lying if I said that this book exceeded my expectations. I have a major bone to pick with whoever wrote the synopsis that goodreads posted for this book. What happened was I went into the book thinking it was going to be like "X" and what I got was "Z" instead. It's not the author's fault that I was expecting this book to be different... so I'd say don't pay a lot of attention to the synopsis on goodreads, because what it says the story is about is a little different from what's actually in the book, and so it made reading a little confusing. Also, once again (and I say this a lot) I had issues with the pacing of the story. Way too much high school melodrama subplots and not really enough of a focus on the "creatures" until halfway in.
Note: sometimes high school subplots or focus is a good thing, because it sets up the story and adds more of a flavor to what is going on, including backstory (a good example of this is NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh) but here, in my opinion, it just proved distractingReplacement's thriller/suspense tone was offset by high school popularity issues, two chapter-long parties (with drinking of course, because if you have a story about teens you HAVE to include beer) and 6 pages to describe 1 concert. It may sound like nitpicking, but in a fantasy story with horror overtones, those things got REALLY distracting and for me threw the pacing off. There were also a few characters who seemed to be thrown in for no real purpose (like Alice), and other characters who didn't seem very developed. For example, a large chuck of the story has to do with Mackie's relationship with his parents and sister, and I didn't think there were near enough scenes that really explored those dynamics, so when the climax rolled around...it kind of missed that emotional home run. **Plus it seemed like the book couldn't make up its mind about Mackie's characterization**: supposedly Mackie is so different from everybody else and also a "freak," yet he has a large support system of friends and at least two girls interested in him. That doesn't really say "freak" and "loner" to me, so it was hard for me to really wrap my mind around Mackie, because he seemed a little contradictory in character portrayal.
And to be real honest (which is why I have this blog), the ending segments were a little too convenient. **For those of you who have already read this, I'd love to get your thoughts on this, too** The story started out moderately-paced, then raced to finish itself. It just kind of seemed like the "confrontation" wimped out a little. That's not going to make a lot of sense, probably, unless you read the story.
I do want to remind everyone that the above opinions are just that, and reflect my reading experience. They are just things I noticed when I was reading that seemed to work for me, and seemed to not work quite so well. **As to content, be aware that there is strong language throughout this book, as well as some moderate-level sexual content, again just FYI for the viewer's discretion.
I'm very grateful to Razorbill for sending me a copy of The Replacement, and I'm going to treasure my eerie-pretty ARC for a long time!