*** Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. ***
“I broke a Lymerian law, and now I’m going to die.” – Bianca Sierra-Luebke, The Replacement
The Replacement Review
**BE WARNED – CONTAINS SPOILERS**
The Replacement by Bianca Sierra-Luebke is the first installment in a brand new young adult series that showcases the various consequences of transcending humanity. The Replacement by Bianca Sierra-Luebke features Angelica, a strong-willed young woman caught in a series of unfortunate events. Following a year of living in the shadows, Angelica and her Lymerian boyfriend, Merrick, abruptly discover that their time together has come to an end as they lose their strategic advantage over their powerful enemies. Recently apprehended, a defeated Angelica now finds herself trapped in an unforgiving dungeon, alone. With only her thoughts to keep her company, Angelica fears that their fate can only be death. Unfortunately, true to the infamous expression, Angelica should be careful what she wishes for. When the time has come for their punishment to be served, Angelica is brought out before the entire society of Lymerians. To her horror, she not only witnesses her boyfriend’s death, but she also learns of her fate, a fate worse than death; to become one of the Lymerians. In that moment, Angelica’s life, her human life, is over; all her desires and dreams for the future vanish before her eyes. All that remains is the Liturgy, otherwise known as the emotionally charged Lymerian transformation process. Luckily, Angelica does not have to endure this inhuman revolution alone; with her newly bonded family’s guidance, Angelica navigates the turbulent seas of her unending physical and mental evolution.
The Replacement by Bianca Sierra-Luebke features a world of unique terms and ethereal influences. As the reader first dips their toes into this fictional world, there is quite the learning curve. It takes some time and patience to gain an understanding of the terminology, but once the lingo clicks, the story takes off. The word with the most significance throughout the novel is Lymerian. Essentially, Lymerians are Vampires. They rely on blood for sustenance and have heighten senses, like hearing. They have the potential for extra abilities based on their destiny and overall blood consumption. They even have extended life expectancies. However, contrary to typical Vampires, they are not immortal; they do have an expiration date, it just takes their bodies a lot longer to reach that point.
An additional variance between Lymerians and the normal Vampiric depiction is the conversion process. For Lymerians, the evolution process is commonly known as Liturgy; Liturgy is another foreign term that is essential to understanding the overall plot. Liturgy encompasses many different processes and emotional influences but commences when a human is chosen to become a Lymerian. One of the first steps of the Liturgy is emotionally bonding the ‘newborn’ with a central mentor and two guards. These connections deeply affect not only the ‘newborn’ but also the bonded Lymerians; they all feel a special sense of loyalty or kinsmanship to one another.
As the numerous responsibilities associated with the Liturgy settle on the group, emotions are expected to run high and actions to become uncontrollable. These influences are also side effects of the Liturgy. In my opinion, Liturgy is a sort of umbrella term that explains the various outcomes of the transformation process. For instance, if Angelica is erratic and fighting her mentor, Clara, it is because of the Liturgy. If Angelica’s guard falls in love with her, it is because of the Liturgy. If Clara’s warrior attitude softens, it is because of the Liturgy. While having a label for these experiences is beneficial, it also blurs the lines between what is normal Lymerian behavior and what is a result of the Liturgy. Furthermore, with the novel being from both Angelica and Clara’s point of views, both also a part of the Liturgy, it is hard to grasp what exactly is expected of a Lymerian, one not experiencing Liturgy. Regardless, The Replacement weaves a fantastic tale of unique elements complete with compelling characters.
While The Replacement depicts Angelica’s evolution from human to Lymerian, it also features Clara, the architect/mentor of Angelica’s Liturgy. Through the dual point of views, the audience gains insight into not only both sides of the Liturgy but also the personalities of both characters. As previously mentioned, Angelica was essentially forced into the Liturgy; captured for being on the run with a runaway Lymerian. However, despite her circumstances, Angelica fights through her situation with ease. She thinks through her decisions, evaluates her options, and ultimately survives on her intelligence. Angelica even handles the numerous “truth bombs” thrown her way with relative grace. One such reveal was the fact that Angelica’s punishment, to become a Lymerian, was planned all along.
In the society of Lymerians, when one Lymerian dies, another must take their place. And, since Merrick died as a Lymerian, Angelica must take his place. However, as if that wasn’t twisted enough, it is later revealed that the mastermind behind this plan was Merrick. He wanted to end his time as a Lymerian but knew he would need to offer up a replacement. As a result, Merrick tricked Angelica into not only loving him but also running away; forcing his plan into action. As Angelica learns of these revelations, Angelica is rightfully pissed. Merrick manipulated her for his own gain. However, as she learns that only people with Lymerian blood can survive the Liturgy, she begins to realize that maybe this was her destiny all along. Maybe something good can come from this. After being an orphan all her life, she can finally begin to understand where she came from. This is also a chance for her to take control of her own life; no more letting others dictate who she is. Through her actions and overall demeanor, it is evident that Angelica is a determined and courageous young woman. In the face of betrayal and pain, she does not flinch, she meets the challenges head on.
As there are always two sides of the same coin, the same can also be said for Liturgy. The other side of the Liturgy “coin” is Clara. Clara is Angelica’s architect or mentor throughout Liturgy. She is the Lymerian who, essentially, is in charge of ensuring Angelica’s transformation goes smoothly for not only Angelica herself but also for her fellow Liturgy family (the two guards). Luckily, Clara has experience in strategic decision making as she is the Vegar of the Slayers. In other words, she is the commander to the military of the Lymerians. With her powerful position, Clara is skilled in not only fighting and military strategy, but she is also trained in leadership. She employs her expertise in these areas while navigating the uncertain terrain that is the Liturgy. For instance, Clara uses tough love and persistence while preparing Angelica for her upcoming examination; an examination that determines what Angelica’s role as a Lymerian will be. Clara also constantly evaluates Angelica’s progress and attitude in respect to a newly appointed Slayer. She holds Angelica to Slayer standards even with the possibility that she will not be categorized as a Slayer. Her insistence on ‘raising’ Angelica with the Slayer influence demonstrates her undying loyalty to the Slayers as well as her high expectations for Angelica. Since Clara believes that the Slayers are the best, it is rational of her to expect her Votary, Angelica, to be the best through the teachings of a Slayer. Either way, through her obvious reliance on the Slayers, Clara exhibits her discomfort for her new situation and responsibility. However, it also displays her humanity; a supposedly inhuman creature is unsure of the changes she is enduring. In all, Clara is a fierce warrior who prides herself on her work as the Slayer’s Vegar. However, with the Liturgy influence, Clara’s attitude softens as she begins to care for not only Angelica but also for her fellow Liturgy family.
The Replacement by Bianca Sierra-Luebke was an entertaining read. At certain moments, it felt as if the story was dragging; always debating the next steps for Angelica’s progression or revisiting Angelica’s memories with her adopted family. However, the story made up for those slow moments with the various mind-blowing reveals further into the tale. Specifically, in the last chapter, there is an impending reveal that closes out the story. Without any answers, the reader is left wanting more. When I read the last sentence, I flipped to the next page and was flabbergasted to find the end. How could it just stop there? As any normal reader experiencing a cliffhanger, I then proceeded to devise possible resulting scenarios, all attempting to answer that huge cliffhanger. Overall, The Replacement, while confusing at times, was a fast and enjoyable read. The unique race of species, the complex characters, and the twisted plot all come together to create this compelling novel.
The Replacement by Bianca Sierra-Luebke was published on August 5, 2018.
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