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Boys and Girls of Every Age, Wouldn’t You Like To See Something Strange?

Jenny restrains herself from making out with hugging the protagonist of Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement long enough to review it.

Boys and Girls of Every Age, Wouldn’t You Like To See Something Strange?

BOOK REPORT for The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Harkening To the Olden Days, When Tim Burton Was Awesome
Bonus Factors: Underworld! Superstitions! Genuine Spookiness!
Relationship Status: Going Steady

The Deal:

Mackie lives in the small town of Gentry-- the town that never seems to experience the pits and falls of other old mill towns, but never really soars, either. He coasts through, trying his hardest to NOT get noticed. And surprisingly, it seems to work. No one catches on to the fact that he can't be around anything made of/from iron without getting v. v. sick, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone but Mackie himself that his eyes are so dark brown they're actually black.

But another little kid has just died, like they do in Gentry, and as the dead kid's big sister searches for answers, Mackie finds himself being drawn more and more into the mysteries of the town, and to that place under the bridge called the slag heap. He tries not to get involved, but he's sick, and getting sicker, and his fears of not belonging raise questions inside himself that aren't going to just go away this time. As he searches for answers about the town, he finds out more than he bargained for about himself....

BFF Charm: Yay!

I really love Mackie. I wanted to just put my arms around him and make out a little tell him everything was going to be okay. The truth is, though, Mackie doesn't really need another friend. The friends he has are awesome--specifically Roswell and his sister Emma, although the Corbett twins are pretty fantastic (I imagine them as two Kellan Lutz's who are consistently goofy and always tinkering with things like a found McCarthy-era polygraph they dubbed 'the red scare'). I'd love to hang out with all of them, including Tate. She's the one who needs a bff, and I'd have her back (in a fight, or in her search for the truth about her sister) any day.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Yovanoff does a nice job of ratcheting up the swoon while keeping it real from a boy's perspective. Whether it's Mackie's longing crush on pretty-girl Alice (and how that plays out!), or his developing- yet awkward- yet steamy- thing with Tate, I could def. feel the longing, and the heat.

And speaking of Tate, can I just say thank you, Ms. Yovanoff, for writing such a tough, kick-ass, sexy girl? Team Tate 4eva!

Talky Talk: Harkening To the Olden Days, When Tim Burton Was Awesome

Remember that? I still get a twinge of excitement every time he makes a new movie, but nothing he's done since will ever capture the magic of Edward Scissorhands or Nightmare Before Christmas. What happened, Tim Burton?

However, this book brought back that wonderful spookiness-with-heart, recapturing the feeling that Burton used to. It is the kind of book you read on a hill overlooking a cemetery in New England, with an afghan wrapped around you and a mug of cider -with whiskey- in your hands. It practically smells like pumpkins and candied apples. Yovanoff creates a make-believe world that is both fantastical and realistic; the town of Gentry itself was a character that I loved delving deeper into.

Bonus Factor: Underworld!

Oh, Michael Sheen, how is it possible that I still love you after Rise of the Lycans?

Where was I? Ah yes, the underworld! NOT the series of movies featuring leather-clad Kate Beckinsdale, and my aforementioned Mr. Blair. The real underworld! Or at least Yovanoff's ragtag group of whatever they are under the slag heap. Call me crazy, but there's nothing I love more than a town with creepy things living under it! (I did live in Bangor, Maine for 8 years).

Bonus Factor: Superstitions!

Give me an old-fashioned superstitious book or give me... well, I don't want to actually say the word. ptewy! ptewy!* However your superstition is supposed to protect or harm you, I find them all fascinating, because no matter what it is, somebody made that shit up! So naturally I loved every bit of the iron-thing in this story.

*me, spitting over my shoulder...

Bonus Factor: Genuine Spookiness!

This is NOT a scary book. It also has NOTHING to do with faeries, vampires or weres. But it has that good old-fashioned chill to it that I haven't seen in ages!

Casting Call:

Charlie Bewley as Mackie

I have SUCH a crush on this guy... (I'm just waiting for him to be cast in something actually good). So having Charlie play Mackie would make me v. happy. Plus, he's the only person I could think of who could pull off Mackie's slight creepiness, and still make you want to make out with er, hug him.

I had two peeps in mind for Tate, and I couldn't decide between them, so... you choose!

Abbie Cornish as Tate

-OR-

Allison Mack as Tate

I'm not trying to play favorites by only casting these two, but, well, they were my favorites.

Relationship Status: Going Steady

I am totally wearing this book's non-metallic pin. When I first saw it, I was kind of drawn to its macabre cover, but I was afraid if I went over to its house, I'd find a string of Jack Skellington lights (that it had purchased at Spencer Gifts) in its bedroom, possibly next to an Evanescence poster. Thankfully, I found instead a bass guitar and some clothes strewn across the floor. I was totally surprised once I got to know it that this book is really just looking for its place in this world, just like me and Michael W. Smith. I don't think we'll be together forevs or anything, but I like-like it, and for right now, that's enough.

Pssst! We have a copy to give away! We'll select a commentor at random, so if you're interested, leave us a note and make sure you subscribe to the comments.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Replacement will be available September 21.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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