The opening paragraphs suck the reader into the dark and eerie world that Brenna Yovanoff has built. Yovanoff slowly peels back the layers to reveal the deep and disturbing mystery haunting the town of Gentry. The language of this novel is darkly beautiful, almost poetic at times. Yet, after reading reviews describing The Replacement as scary and spooky, I was rather surprised not to be more frightened by the beginning of this novel. However, toward the end things definitely took a turn for the grotesque, holding no punches and unapologetically revealing the raw emotions, truths and bitter realities of the small steel town. The best thing about this world, though, are the characters. While some - like Mackie's parents - could use development, the main characters are vibrant and quirky. Mackie's strange blend of typical teen hormones, sweet vulnerability and streak of darkness will win readers over from the start. Yet, though readers will feel sorry for him, it was hard to get a real sense of Mackie's pain and, as a result, the conclusion was somewhat anticlimactic.
The relationship between Mackie and his bookish sister Emma is the emotional core of the novel, providing a heart-warming beam of light in an otherwise dreary world. Tate Stewart might be irritating at first, but it's impossible not to admire her for being brave enough to see the dark side of Gentry that no one else dares to acknowledge. Fortunately, Mackie's friends Roswell and the twins provide some much-needed comic relief in this grim world. Roswell is a fascinating character and an incredibly loyal friend to Mackie, a refreshing sight in a young adult novel, and I hope to see more of him in future books. The Replacement is powerful and moving, sad and haunting, creating a whole world of creatures who are terrible in their cruel, cold gentility. The underground world that Yovanoff creates is as captivating as it is horrifying, and the sheer variety of creatures speaks to the creativity of the novel. There is something strangely beautiful about the darkness of it all, and readers won't be able to look away.
Click here to order The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
On Monday, don't miss my author interview with Brenna!
This novel is part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge and the Fall Into Fantasy event.