REVIEW: Valiant by Holly Black

Valiant by Holly BlackAs captivated as I was with Tithe, I really can’t say the same for Valiant despite a strong start to the novel. The opening of the book was strong but as the story progressed, the plot twists and the unpleasant characters made me stop reading this book before I hit the end.

When the story opens, we meet Val as she is getting ready for her date. Val’s mother is the stereotypical ex-beauty queen mom who is rather shallow and manipulative. Val’s date is late so she decides to go on without him because she doesn’t want to be late to the game. Thus she leaves to catch the bus. However, she decides to wait for her date and goes back home only to discover that: 1) boyfriend finally made it and 2) boyfriend seems to be all over her mother. Val catches the two them together and leaves.

Val finds herself on the street—alone. Also, Val does a Demi Moore move and shaves her head. Avoiding confrontation at home, she stays on the street. Val calls her best friend to tell her what happened and learns that her best friend had known all along. Val feels as if she was the fool taken for a ride by her mom and ex-boyfriend and this further alienates her from home. Thus she befriends a couple of street urchins, Lollipop and Sketchy Dave and thus the story follows her adventures on the street and into the world of fey.

Lollipop and Sketchy Dave been on the street for awhile. Their little group is led by Luis. A rather dubious fellow who works for the fey. There was some kind of debt Luis owed in exchange for his continued servitude. Luis is rather secretive; he spits out all kinds of information about rats and saying that there are things out there that view humans as rats as well. Luis’s talkative nature about monsters provides for some of the suspense. Too bad that mood didn’t last long.

I can’t really say I finished this book as I bored out of my mind and incredulous in more than a couple of places:

  • The first red flag went up when Val continued to live on the street. I find it hard to believe that a girl this sheltered would adapt so quickly with no one looking for her
  • The second red flag went up when Val first spots a supernatural creature and seems to accept it. The author makes a point of describing her agitation and fear at seeing something like that but after a few minutes, she seems to accept the spectacular
  • Third red flag went up when Lollipop and Val decide to find the “troll” that lives under the bridge. It’s not enough that they’ve been warned away, no they have to see it for themselves. The idiots.
  • Fourth red flag was when Val and Lollipop of course get caught by the ugly troll and Val offers her life in exchange for servitude to save Lollipop and wouldn’t you know it, Lollipop didn’t appreciate the save, the bitch

The author did a good job with the suspense but it got ridiculous when I later learned that the drugs that the girls were getting high on was “glamour” that trolls and fey use to stay hidden among the humans. It this “glamour” that Sketchy Dave delivers to the fey on his many runs.

Another misconception by me was assuming that this book took off where the last book ended. It doesn’t. Valiant can stand alone. Also, Valiant is a keeper for some readers and I’m left wondering why. I might have stopped well before it got really good or this was as good as it got and I just don’t know a good book when I read one anymore. So be it. What prompted me to read this book in the first place was a remark made by one the Smart Bitches that responded to the YA novel thread. The remark was that Valiant could run circles around Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I think not and I beg to differ there.

I read/skimmed to the end. If the mood strikes, I may give this book another try. Or not. Right now, I’m giving Valiant a DNF. What was missing in Valiant was the joy of reading and enjoying the imaginative world that Black created in Tithe. I really liked Kaye and Roiben in Tithe. Didn’t much care for characters in Valiant. This urban fantasy was much darker, grittier and I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I was with Tithe.

[tags]Holly Black, Valiant, Dark Fantasy[/tags]

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Teen Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to REVIEW: Valiant by Holly Black

  1. Trisha says:

    I posted on the Smart Bitches YA thread a couple of days after everyone else (stupid computer crashing on me!), so I’m not sure if you saw my comments re: Holly Black’s two YA books (last part of the second paragraph; I know, it’s a long, messy post). Count me in as another Tithe lover who doesn’t get the appeal of Valiant. At all. I didn’t elaborate on my dislike of Valiant since my attempt at reading it was over a year ago, and I don’t think I got even as far as your third red flag before I put the book down. HB did have a short story in an anthology (The Faerie Reel, I believe) that I liked, which is saying something since I rarely like shorts. Anyway, since Ironside will be Kaye/Roiben focused, I do have my hopes up for it.

  2. Jane says:

    Thanks for the review and validating my decision not to buy Valiant. Reviews can be so helpful that way. 🙂

  3. Cece says:

    Now see, I liked this book better (than Tithe), but then I didn’t finish Twilight . I loved the darker aspect of it (vs Tithe), thought it was better written overall (than Tithe), and totally bought in LOL

    *shrug* ah well 🙂

  4. Avid Reader says:

    Cece – I knew you’d be here to comment. 🙂 I thought about you as I wrote this review. Don’t get me wrong, I like her style of writing but I just could not read another word of it after Val went to the streets. I read some reviews at Amazon and a couple of people had the same thoughts I did about the book but most of the others were glowing reviews. I wish I could have enjoyed and was prepared to enjoy it but there were just too many silly things these characters did to me that I just couldn’t get over.

    Hey Trisha, thanks for the info on Ironside. So she’s going back to her first two characters Kaye and Roiben? Good. I have hope too that it will be good.

  5. Cece says:

    LOL I’m nothing if not predictable 😉

  6. Trisha says:

    There’s an interview with Holly Black at the Simon & Schuster site in which she says Ironside “details what happens after Roiben is made the King of the Unseelie Court and Kaye discovers that humans are being murdered to make a grisly antidote to the faerie vulnerability to iron.”

  7. Avid Reader says:

    Oh, great! Thanks Trisha! I hope it’s good.

  8. Cece says:

    woooooooohoooooooooo 🙂

  9. May says:

    I liked Tithe much much better than Valiant, but I didn’t dislike it nearly as much as you did.

  10. Avid Reader says:

    Hi May, well it’s good to know that Valiant wasn’t as bad for you as it was for me. Cece loved it, I couldn’t finish it. Different strokes and all that, I guess.

  11. LuLu says:

    I LOVED VALIANT!!! I loved Tithe also. I can’t get enough of these Realm of Faerie stories. Everytime I pick one up I cannot put it down untill it is over. Then I go through a small depression period on how long I have to wait till Ironside is released. When I finsh reading that I have no clue what I will do because I have never read a book like Tithe and Valiant. So if anyone has any good ideas let me know! So anyways back to Valiant…I loved the story, it was a dark and enchanting love story with trolls, the faerie court and glamour. The climax was perfect!!! Ravus and Val had me cheering the whole time. I felt like it was so realistic and I wish I was part of the story.

  12. Candace says:

    Unfortunately, due to the fact that you did not continue reading, you missed the re-emerging of Roiben and Kay.
    (They’re in the third book too, I believe.)

  13. Avid Reader says:

    Hi Candace, I’m going to reread Valiant. I just finished reading Ironside and enjoyed it very much.

  14. Hannah Williamson says:

    O.K… while that may be your opinion, I disagree. You probably should have read the book all the way through before you judged, and taken in the facts at hand. An explanation for your redflags could be found in the fact that for one: Val just went through watching her mom and her boyfriend screwing each other, she obviously was in SHOCK, and wasn’t thinking straight during her Demi Moore melt down or the stay in the subway. My second even more obvious point is that the girls were high… that can account for whatever stupid descisions they made. The only redflag I agree with is the one about Lolli being a bitch, cuz she is, but yet again she was high. Anyways, I personally thought Valiant was great (but not better than Twilight , that’s impossible!) Also try reading Ironside , cuz it explains alot about Valiant and you’ll understand the story better.

  15. Avid Reader says:

    Hi Hannah – I appreciate your feedback and your perspective. I read Ironside and enjoyed it and it did explain things a bit and made me want to reread it sometime in the future.

  16. ALexi says:

    I loved it. I did like Tithe (And Ironside), but I liked this more. I don’t think you can give a valid opinion without finishing it. Okay, maybe your opinion can still be valid, but you shouldn’t be writing reviews about books you didn’t read. Just my opinion, but I thought it was a great story.

  17. DebzorahKaulitz says:

    These books are epiccc =]

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