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11/05/2005 Entry: "Holly Black's VALIANT - Uncomfortable-Making (Linda, Lynn)"

Valiant

Well, after hearing how Margaret and Preeti didn't know what to say about this book, it puts the pressure on. :-)

The heroine of Holly Black's VALIANT is 17-year-old Valerie Russell. After unexpectedly discovering an unforgivable betrayal by her mother, she reacts by taking off from home to New York City using some tickets she had already bought for a game. But, angry and hurt, she wanders around til she falls in with some other homeless teens that are living in the tunnels of the city's subway system.

A girl named Lolli quickly accepts Val and shares secrets about the existence of faerie folk living around them, using glamor to stay hidden. Dave is more reluctant to talk but can't control Lolli in any way and seems to live to try to please her. Luis, Dave's older brother, is not happy at all about the addition of Val to their band. Luis, it turns out, has "the sight" and can see the faerie through their glamor. But he doesn't take them as lightly as the others because he knows how dangerous they are. He's already under obligation to the troll, Ravus, to carry out his errands for a specific time before he can be free again. To add to the mix, there are faerie being killed.

I'm always amazed by how dark and gritty teen books can be nowadays. I can certainly see how this would be an attractive story to today's teen, so I don't know if it's the generation thing, but there is an introduction to the mix of a drug called Never that disturbed me. The things that were done while under the influence and the fact that the heroine fell so easily into using it bothered me a lot and took away a lot of enjoyment for me. On the other hand, Val reprieved herself in the end and was very heroic.

I did find the existence of the faerie in the modern world intriguing. There eventually was a romance in it that I enjoyed but also found rather unbelievable. But while I enjoyed probably two-thirds of the book, the third that I didn't like makes this a discommend for me.--Linda

***

Linda caught a lot of my problems with this. The heroine becomes addicted to the "drug" in the book and does some very distasteful things under its influence for a long enough period that I was uncomfortable with the story.

A lot of teen books seem to tell these kinds of redemption stories now, and that's a good thing in some ways, but in another way it just seems to me to be a fine line between redemption and another sort of morality tale, going thud, thud, thud over your head.

I'll definitely pick up another Holly Black book because VALIANT and TITHE both had elements I really liked. I'd give this a recommend as a one-time read, but I am not as likely to reread it.

I also am not sure that the short form of the young adult novel allows Black enough space. Both books felt a little skimpy.

(For TITHE, I was also frustrated by the undercutting of the heroine's apparent ethnic heritage by her real heritage.)--Lynn

--VALIANT at Amazon (hb)
--VALIANT review page
--TITHE at Amazon (pb)
--TITHE review page


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