The Replacement

Another paranormal teen book, I think I’m in a rut. In my defense I picked it because I was on break at work, in need of a quick read, and this book is only 170 pages. Without further adieu:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff  StarStarStar

I wanted to give this book 2.5 stars – not great but not bad – but I gave Anna Dressed In Blood 2.5 stars and this book was slightly better than that one. Mainly because the main character is tolerable, even likeable… he’s sympathetic if nothing else. The plot was disturbing but in a good way – it takes place in the town of Gentry; a town where babies are stolen from their cribs and replaced with castoffs, a town where monsters live and dwell among the humans, a town that teeters on the brink of good and evil. The people of Gentry don’t quite accept the monsters that live among them but they’re content to turn the other cheek, they accept the “things” that are left in their babies’ cribs but they never truly love them the same. Mackie is one of those things. He can’t touch steel and he can’t stand on consecrated ground, he’s always felt out of place but his sister, Emma, has loved him unconditionally and his family has done all they can to be welcoming.

Emma was there the night that the real Mackie (aka Malcolm) was taken and replaced with something else, she was 4 and she was unafraid of the nasty thing that had been placed in her baby brothers crib. Now Mackie is about to discover exactly where he came from… and it ain’t pretty.

The thing I like most about this book is that it’s somehow believable. These paranormal, undead creatures live in this town (er, under it), they walk among the humans and they take their children, yet the people of Gentry have come to accept them as an unavoidable evil. They play pretend (as Mackie so nicely puts it), they see the monsters but choose to ignore them, perhaps believing that ignoring the weirdness will make them normal. However, as much as they try to normalize the demons, the town will never forget that they are in fact demons.

It reminded me of the movie Edward Scissorhands – a Mary Kay consultant, having no luck within the town, decides to approach the big scary castle at the end of the street. The castle is dark and foreboding against the cheery pastel color scheme of the surrounding neighborhood and it clearly doesn’t belong. In the castle she finds Edward, an inhuman creation with lethal fingers. Rather than run away screaming (something I would be wont to do) she invites Edward to come live with her. The neighbors eagerly and easily accept Edward as a new addition to their society… despite the fact that he’s obviously not quite human. The ability of the characters to accept something and someone who is so out of place makes the whole situation seem somewhat plausible. What do they call that? Suspension of disbelief. Or something.

Back to The Replacement, I also like how sympathetic the characters are. I feel for Mackie, he’s guilty (having replaced the real Malcolm), he’s lonely (being that he’s not really human), he’s embarrassed and confused and lost and in the midst of all that he’s a teenager who likes girls and wants to fit in despite the impossibility of “fitting in.” I think the author portrayed that very well. However, there were times when his innermost thoughts got so deep and completely “emo” that I couldn’t even tell what he was thinking or what was happening for that matter – it was almost poetic. Almost.

Unfortunately this is another TEEN book that freely drops the f-bomb. At this point I’ll be more surprised to get through a book without coming across that word. I don’t have anything against the occasional curse word – I get that it’s being thrown around more freely these days, I get that teenagers use it like it’s going out of style, I get that it’s probably appealing to young readers (for some reason) – but I still don’t think it’s appropriate to pepper throughout a young reader novel. This book also includes some pretty strong suggestive themes… at one point Mackie gets some sort of weird handjob in the middle of a cemetery. Ew. Authors: please respect your book, you do not need cuss words and intercourse to spice up your story (unless of course you’re E. L. James).

My only other complaint about this book is that I wish it was longer, I would have loved to read some more backstory or history of the House of Mayhem, the demon dwelling place. I would have enjoyed knowing more about the history of Gentry and it’s strange occupants, both human and non. I have decided that I will likely read the sequel simply because I want to know more.

One thought on “The Replacement

  1. Pingback: Pretty cribs | Estellasenvy

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