The Replacement (2010) by Brenna Yovanoff
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 slowly dying in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us. He just wants to play bass guitar and find out more about an oddly intriguing girl named 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.
Review: This is a powerful debut novel from the talented Yovanoff (whose short fiction can also be found at The Merry Sisters of Fate). The Replacement is told with eerie, atmospheric prose that plays like a flickering movie screen. Yovanoff is a master of evocative descriptions, but she also knows how to develop character in a natural and intuitive way. I loved that I was still discovering new facets of Mackie's personality late in the novel. Mackie is such a compelling protagonist: I love complex characters who are in and of themselves a contradiction, and throughout the novel Mackie is clearly at war with himself. Of course one of the major themes in YA fiction is finding-your-place/coming-of-age but Mackie is forced to do it in the strange town of Gentry.
Music plays a large role in The Replacement as well, and Yovanoff does an excellent job evoking not only the power of music but the elusive essence of rockstars--both the freedom and binding chains found in performance. (On a side note, two musicians in the book--Carlina and Luther-- were drawn in such sharp relief, both creepy and magnetic, that I couldn't help but love them. I would like to see more of Luther and his top hat).
Of course I have to mention Tate (fantastically savage at times, but also vulnerable) and Roswell (I'm a little bit in love with Roswell. Such a solid fellow).
Conclusion: 4/5. The Replacement has compelling characters, eerily gorgeous writing, and even some humor. Yovanoff gets bonus points for using the word "fabular" and also for the part where Mackie tells someone to "fuck right off."