Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: September 27th 2012
Series: Modern Faerie Tales #2
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, General, Young Adult
When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.
But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends.
And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.
The first thing that struck me about Valiant was how good the writing was. I read it coming off of another book that I enjoyed but had a hard time getting through due to bad pacing and clunky writing, and Valiant was certainly a stark contrast to that. The writing flows very nicely and creates strong imagery while still maintaining a unique character voice.
The book is in third person personal following the protagonist Val, who is the daughter of a trashy but (usually) well meaning lower middle class single mom in New Jersey. When Val’s boyfriend cheats on her with her (usually) well meaning mom, Val runs away to NYC to try to sort out her emotions. Soon after arriving though, she gets caught up in a faerie-drug dealing-murder plot and finds herself unable and unwilling to return home. Throughout the rest of the book Val faces the realities and consequences of being a teenage runaway in New York while simultaneously dueling faeries and hunting for a murderer.
My favorite things about Holly Black’s books is that she takes on heavy topics that many YA authors shy away from, such as sex and drugs, and weaves them into a crazy fantasy plot about murderous faeries in a way that seems realistic and carries all of the gravity of an adult book about the same topics. She does not fail to disappoint on that front in this book.
I thought all of the characters were well written and I really liked Val. She seems very real, and while she makes a lot of mistakes (which is good!), she is a generally a good person and the reader gets to see her struggling with the moral aspects of many of the decisions that she makes. The supporting characters are also relatively dynamic, one of whom is a troll. (Sort of spoiler: the love interest!)
.As far as romance goes, there is certainly a lot of sex (though none of it graphic) and a small amount of mutually consenting romance where both parties know who they are kissing and have actual feelings for each other.
The plot was probably the weakest part of the novel. I enjoyed it, but the ending was pretty predictable and there were no huge exciting plot twists or anything. It definitely had that standalone feel where I got to the end of the book and then thought, “this is it? I guess they had an exciting adventure, but they did not save the world or anything”.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, though not quite enough for it to earn a place on my obsessive-reread-over-and-over list. .