I barely finished this book, and now that I have I wish I hadn't wasted my time.
The Replacement is the story of Mackie Doyle - a 16-year old changeling boy. Mackie's parents and mostly his sister have done their best to love and care for Mackie, but his allergies to iron, steel, blood and consecrated ground are making it harder and harder for him to live in the human world. However, the world that Mackie came from is not a place he's dying to go back too. The Houses and Mayhem and Misery lie beneath the ground, under the slag heap and the dump hill. They are filled with creeping, mysterious dead and undead creatures. Mackie is content to avoid the world beneath the ground until he finds he needs their potions to keep him living. Then Tate's sister dies, and Tate isn't so sure the girl they buried was really her sister. Mackie finds himself attracted to Tate, which makes it harder and harder for him to deny to her that she's right, and he knows where her real sister is - he just doesn't think they can get her back.
It sounds so promising! Even when I describe the plot here I can't help but thinking, "Oh, that sounds cool!" Alas, the fabulous plot idea suffers from a few flaws:
One. The first half of the book drags. The author is intentionally vague about characters, history, origins, even what exactly Mackie is. Sure he's a changeling, but there are many types of changeling in folklore. Is he a faerie? A troll? An elf? A demon? Some new type of thing you just made up? It is NEVER explained. That bugs me. I read through the first half of the book feeling like I'd missed a chapter. I didn't know what was going on, who exactly people were, what they thought of each other, why they were doing things, etc. It felt like it does when you watch a TV show for the first time in the middle of the 3rd season. Lost and confused. You need a friend with you who knows the show to fill in the gaps for you. In the case of the book I needed the author to do that for me, but she didn't.
Two. Are these kids really supposed to be high schoolers? There is so much drinking going on with no apparent concern for being caught. Never mind the fact that the characters stay out all night and nothing comes of it. Where the heck are the parents? Wouldn't they be concerned? I've encountered this in other books, but it's often is explained away with and over-busy parent, or a poor (as in bad, not penniless) parent or something. But in this book Mackie's dad is supposed to be a pastor - shouldn't he be showing more concern?
Three: I just didn't understand the characters. Is Mackie popular or a freak? At one point he's freak, but then all these girls like him, so...? The twins were very flat and just seemed to be there to fill space. Alice was there one minute kissing Mackie and then she never comes into play again. Roswell was a nice guy, but if he's so close to Mackie, wouldn't you think he'd be more curious about what Mackie is? He seems to be aware of his oddities, but never questions. Maybe that's just supposed to make him a good friend who doesn't question, but I think it makes him seem too timid. Tate - one minute she's super mean girl, the next she's flirting with Mackie. I don't think I really understood any of them, and therefore I didn't really care that much about them.
Even though the ending was hastily and almost too-tidily wrapped up, I really didn't care anymore. I was just glad it was over.