The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
New York: Razorbill, 2010
3 out of 5
Mackie 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. (Description from Amazon).
The premise is interesting and unique but I wasn't immediately gripped by the story. There are times when I feel novels explain too much and other times when I feel the set-up is lacking. This was sort of an in-between for me in that sense. The description does provide some set up--yes, Mackie is definitely a replacement and he's allergic to the human world. But the story still felt like it was jumped into a bit without much explanation. More is given along the way, but as someone who does not read this genre often, a little background would have uncluttered my brain a bit more.
Mackie is an interesting, well thought out character who contends with the typical teenager problems like figuring out girls while also working to appear normal. Mackie's "condition" is not necessarily a secret; the town of Gentry has a long history of pretending things are normal while putting up safeguards to keep their children safe in their beds. The only other two characters worth mentioning are Roswell, Mackie's best friend, and Tate. Roswell is the quintessentially normal son of the most normal family in Gentry and knows Mackie is different, but sticks by his side anyway. Tate is Mackie's love interest. There's a lot of bickering and confusion, but that's teenage love for you.
Many of the scenes involving Mayhem just seem surreal to me. At first I felt like I was reading a different novel. The intertwining worlds did eventually make sense and flow more smoothly.
Overall it was an interesting read and I like that it takes a bit of a different look at the paranormal.