As 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]