Friday, October 1, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

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?

Hmm.  What a great cover!  So enticing calling to me begging me to open the cover.  So, I did.  And I trudged through the sluggish beginning of the book.  My mind started to wander and I decided to go to sleep.  I tried it again last night and forced myself to finish it.  The action definitely picked up, but maybe a little too late to redeem itself.  It might just give Bleeding Violet a run for it's money as one of the weirder novels I've read this year.  Anyway, none of this helps you understand what it's about.

Mackie Doyle is a changeling.  No one has ever come out and said it, but he knows he is not supposed to be here and that he is a freak.  He has a few friends at school and they seem to be good friends.  I have a problem with the characters because they never fall out of their very narrow roles they are given.  Danny and Dennis are the inventors/clowns.  Roswell is the rescuer, but never asks Mackie, "Why are you sick?  What's wrong with you?"  There's this big pink elephant standing in the middle of the town of Gentry and nobody wants to talk about it except for the very determined Tate who's little sister was just buried.  She isn't sad, she's angry because she swears that wasn't her sister, it was a replacement.  Tate doesn't follow the rules.

It seems that Gentry has been having children disappear on a regular basis for years and turned a blind eye to it.  And Mackie gets drawn into the lies and deceptions and doesn't like it when it touches too close to home.  Now, as I said, the beginning of the book is slow.  Mackie is sick all the time and he's lusting after the popular girl and always having to go home early, which Roswell dutiful does.  Pretty boring stuff.  Then things change and get all existential and I have no idea what's going on.  Page 138 here is some of the conversation edited for brevity's sake.  " So we just give them some kind of distraction. (Mackie says) Another lie."
Carlina, an underground dweller we'll call her, says "No, what we're giving them is the unvarnished truth.  They just don't know it.  When you go out onstage, you'll be closer to yourself than you've ever been, and that's a beautiful thing.  It's what they paid to see."  Mackie-"I just feel nervous, though.  I feel weird and freakish and pointless, and nobody wants to see that.  I can't be what they paid for." Carlina- "Then you have to feel like that, then let it go and do your job.  We'll go out onto the stage in a minute, and when we do, you have to make them believe that whatever you show them is the real you because sometimes being believed in is just what it means not to die."  Huh?  If I wanted to think that hard, I'd have read Freud or Nietzsche.  I still don't understand what it all means.

The good news it slowly starts to pick up from there even if doesn't make sense.  In one world it does, in the other world it doesn't.  But then the two worlds collide and Mackie is in the middle and does something so selfless that I thought surely something would intervene.  Gentry's people have all been playing roles just like Mackie's friends and no one has ever questioned the rules.  The rules are to bring prosperity and abundance to Gentry, but it's been raining for weeks and the lake in the town drained before Mackie was born.  And children disappear from their homes and are replaced by look alikes.  And Mackie wants it stopped.  He can't believe it, that people put up with this.  And as the worlds come together on All Souls Day, Mackie has a plan.  To save Tate's little sister before she's sacrificed and save at least one child from being killed from this heinous underground world.  You'll have to read to see if he succeeded and what the plan is and everything that goes on.  The end is touching and makes the reading of it worthwhile and I see why the author wrote it the way she did.  Even some of the existential stuff made some sense, but when you read it in the middle of the book, unless you are very perceptive, you're going to go "What the hell is she going on about?".  In fact, it's probably a book that you need to read twice.  Because once you get to the end, things make sense that didn't before and if you reread it understanding everything, I think I for one would like it much better.  The best thing I can say about it is that Mackie is pure and innocent and truly tries to be the best he can be.  He feels guilty for what he is and tries in every way to make up for it.  And I think that is what drives him to his ultimate gift.  Oh, just read the book.  Twice!

There isn't much profanity and very little sexual reference, some kissing.  Maybe for ages 13 and up but it is very dark so perhaps 14 and older.  It talks about ripping babies throats out and dead living things.  It's, as the cover shows, very dark.  But redemptive in the end.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I will definitely read the book :)


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