Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2010
Publisher: Razor Bill

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Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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I wanted to like this story, the concept is one that I haven’t seen a lot of, and the fey/changelings are something that interest me. However, I just could not get into this book at all. There are so many questions left unanswered, and everything is mysterious, nothing gets explained and all of the characters seem to know what’s going on, but there aren’t any resolutions or forward movement.

Mackie is one of the biggest problems for me. He’s vague and a bundle of walking contradictions. His changeling status makes it so he can’t handle loud noises, yet his favorite place to be is in the pit of a rock show? Or on stage with the band. He can’t touch metal, but he drinks beer from a can. The author spends so much time making him so different from everyone else, and then doubles back and breaks her own character rules. I really couldn’t get behind his voice, or his actions–or really bring myself to care what was happening to him. He’s got a crush on Tate (who is her own bundle of off putting characteristics) and yet he wants to hang out/make out/score with the hot/slutty girl of the school.

Also, can we stop with the slutty characters? You can have sexual characters, just please no slut shaming in books. It really is off putting, and shows no respect for the characters themselves. It distances me even further from this story, because this particular character was only referred to by how hot she was/how easy she was. I did like Emma–she was a character that seemed so fleshed out compared to the others. She had motivation and drive and distinction from everyone else in the story.

I’m not out to trash this book, or anyone who enjoyed it. I couldn’t get into it. There were moments that showed promise, but then something completely removed me from the story. The concept is neat, and something that we don’t see a lot of in the book world. I just wanted more from it.

Overall: pink2 Skip this. It’s frustrating and disjointed.

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Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff


Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill

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The Summary:
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

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This is another book in my neo-gothic, horror binge I guess, and it’s one that I really enjoyed. Paper Valentine was a really quick read that I easily got sucked into the story. Hannah is an interesting character who grows along the way. Something that I found interesting that Yovanoff did, is when Hannah started talking to ‘the love interest’ she changed. In a positive way. She started to stand up for herself, and move away from the circle of ‘friends’ that had fallen apart after Lillian’s death. I really liked that when the love interest was introduced and confirmed that Hannah didn’t become clingy. She actually opened up and started to change for the better.

The story itself is really interesting. I like crime stories, and those involving serial killers and the fictional element to these murders was really well thought out. They’re graphic without splattering the pages in blood–and I think that’s something that adds to the mood of this story. There are hints, while Hannah sneaks glances at the pictures of the crime scene, or the last victim that Hannah sees in person it’s shown but not glorified. The hidden twist and the killer was something that I didn’t see coming. I like that there’s more to it than “THIS GUY! THIS ONE RIGHT HERE!” It’s subtle, and doesn’t give anything away until the end.

Overall: pink4 Read this book. It’s a great subtle, well layered story with a horror and paranormal twist.