The Replacement

This is one of those books.  You know, the kind you read because everyone's read(ing) it.  I first heard about The Replacement last fall, and as reviews came in from fellow bloggers, I was surprised to see such a huge variation in reviews from adoring fanfare to snarky trash talk.  A book that drew so wide a spectrum of opinions instantly became a book I had to read for myself.

Mackie Doyle is a replacement, or more specifically The Replacement.  He is a changeling left in the crib of the real Malcolm Doyle and few are privy to the truth of his real nature.  As a teenager Mackie struggles to appear normal while fighting against crippling allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground.  However, when more children in the town of Gentry begin dying - or more accurately disappearing with changelings left to die in their stead - Mackie must decide how much he values protecting his identity.  Straddling the worlds of human and fae, Mackie is in the unique position of belonging to both, or perhaps neither.

Brenna Yovanoff creates an interesting story in The Replacement.  Mackie was an intriguing narrator and I appreciated that this was a young adult work told from a male perspective.  The plot was creative and I liked the premise of a grown-up changeling.  That said, I partly wanted to see more glimpses into Mackie's life as a child.  There are a few flashbacks to when he was first switched into the Doyle family, but I found myself quite curious to learn more about his early childhood and the details of how his family and friends came to accept him.

The world of the fair folk was another good - but not quite great - aspect of the novel.  Mackie finds himself drawn into a rivalry between two fairy queens (though they are never named exactly as such) and he discovers truths about himself and the history of the town around him as he is pulled deeper into their world.  The back-story and mythology of this hidden realm is touched-on and partially explained, but again, I found myself wanting to know more about the details and depth of Yovanoff's landscape.

In short, I would say that I liked but did not love this book.  Many of the details of Mackie's life and world could have been developed and expanded to make the setting really come alive for the reader.  The conclusion wrapped up the story nicely but came across as a little too simple, but overall, as a young adult novel, The Replacement was an entertaining story with a creative plot and a unique perspective. 
So there you have it.  I came out rather lukewarm on this one.  I didn't adore it (as some did).  Nor did I hate it (as others did). It's not the best book I've read this year, but there are definitely aspects of it that I enjoyed.  Have you read The Replacement?  Where on the spectrum of opinions did you fall?  Do you ever read books just because they have a wide range of reviews?

6 Response to "The Replacement"

  1. Tiny Library says:
    May 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    I haven't read it or even heard of it!
    It doesn't really sound like my thing although the changeling part is an interesting idea.

  2. StephanieD says:
    May 24, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    I was obsessed with getting this book ... simply for the cover and then I read the mixed reviews and realized it was lust, not love.

  3. Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) says:
    May 24, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    That was my reaction to Water for Elements (I think that's the name...) Meh.

  4. mummazappa says:
    May 25, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    I, like you, am lukewarm on this one. I loved the setting, characters and the themes she explored, but I thought the actual storytelling was patchwork and just didn't pull together tightly enough. Still, there's enough there that makes me want to read BY's future books, I reckon most authors improve with each book so I'm thinking her next one will probably be better.

  5. lisa :) says:
    May 25, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    TL - I think the changeling aspect was part of what drew me in and the fact that it was told from his point of view (rather than by the mother, sister, etc) made it that much more unique.

    Stephanie - Hee hee! I think we've all been there! And I do love the cover of this one! Interestingly enough the UK cover is totally different and has a picture of an emo-ish guy on it. That cover is one I could easily ignore, but this one definitely caught my eye!

    Ellen - I rather liked Water for Elephants but I read it before I heard a lot of talk about it. But I definitely know there were people raving about it being wonderfully awesome and I don't know if it deserved quite the extent of praise it garnered.

    mummazappa - I would definitely pick up another book by Yovanoff. She has a second book, The Space Between, due out in November (US) - more info here. I don't know if the premise is as catchy to me as The Replacement but I definitely love that she's doing something new rather than a sequel! Hooray for a YA author NOT writing a series!

  6. Enbrethiliel says:
    May 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    +JMJ+

    To answer your last question (because I haven't read The Replacement yet and can't answer the others):

    I don't really pay attention to reviews of books I haven't read, so I wouldn't be likely to notice the polarisation of readers, much less have my curiosity sparked by it. But I know I'd be fascinated to track other people's reactions after I've read a book.

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