The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

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?

You can read an excerpt here.


This is wonderful story, both creepy and sweet like Neil Gaiman’s Coraline or a Tim Burton movie.

Yovanoff imbues Gentry with a dark and brooding atmosphere, making us feel the town’s dark legacy long before we learn the truth of it. The reveals of the ugly history and ongoing evil of the town are doled out carefully and effectively. It’s never truly a mystery that Mackie has to solve, more a series of revelations that force him to face what he’s been hiding from for so long – the truth about himself. My one problem, plot-wise, was that it felt a little too easy for Mackie to find things out – people seemed overly willing to just tell Mackie everything he wanted to know, and he easily believed what they said. I was waiting for lies, for betrayals, and felt slightly disappointed that it was all so straightforward.

That said, the power of this story is how Yovanoff uses mythology to explore the ways in which we hide ourselves, especially as teenagers. This is the story of an outsider, and Mackie’s fears of being different, of being rejected as a freak, are the same ones we all feel in high school, only heightened by the fact that in his world, Mackie doesn’t just feel like a monster, he knows he is one. He stays quiet and keeps his head down because it’s dangerous not to fit in, for him more than anyone.

Mackie’s narration is perfect, an absolutely authentic teenage voice – the attractions, the silence, the insecurities. Mackie and Tate’s relationship is different and interesting, a wonderful breath of fresh air from the eyes-meet-and-insta-love prevalent in YA today.

Mackie is of two worlds and belongs to neither. This story plays with the idea of us versus them, of bigotry and fear, but more than anything this is a story about how we make ourselves outcasts, how we keep ourselves apart because we can’t be rejected if no one really knows who we are. Mackie is forced to take that terrifying step forward because the only way he can stop the evil is to stop hiding what he is – and by doing that, he risks everything. This is simply a wonderful story.

The Replacement is a modern day fable about truth and acceptance, a story that teaches us not to be held hostage by the fear of who we are. Despite the creepiness and the gore, believe it or not this is a story about love. It really is sweet, in a disturbing kind of way.

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

YA Highway says:

Yovanoff’s writing is beautiful. It leaves you with the feeling you have from an unsettling dream, one that you’re not quite sure whether or not to call it a nightmare but that stays with you long after you wake up. And Mackie’s romance with Tate – who goes far beyond being simply “tough” – is painfully realistic, with a nice touch of humor and awkwardness to lighten the darkness of their story.

Reading Teen says:

The whole time I was reading The Replacement I just could not stop thinking about how it this would be an amazing Tim Burton movie. Overall, I thought this was a great book! It was very well written and I loved how Brenna Yovanoff turned all the ugly things into beautiful creepiness.

Wordbird says:

The truly amazing thing about the book? The artful way in which Brenna manages to get across the creepy. It was beautiful, mystifying, and altogether wonderful. This book is haunting but fun. Horrid at times, but – more often than expected – touching. There really is a lot to marvel at. Not to mention the fact that Brenna’s prose is marvelous. So… if you’re in the mood for a bit of anything with a tendency to freak you out, read The Replacement.