I have to say I enjoyed Valiant a hell of a lot more then Tithe. I still had some issues with the plot but the idea of a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast was amazing. Here is the summary from Goodreads:
‘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.’
Valerie, or Val is the typical ‘cool’ teenage protagonist – she’s rebellious, a little gothy and not adverse to hard drugs. Although I related to her a lot more then Kaye in the first book, I still felt that she was very contrived. It very much felt like an adult trying to write about what they thought teenagers were all about and failing. That being said, she did have a lot more depth then Kaye – I felt as though I got to know her as the book went on. I also loved that she wasn’t special in any way – she didn’t have any special abilities, she wasn’t a fairy, she wasn’t the chosen one in any way. She just happened to stumble across this magical world.
After discovering her boyfriend and mum having sex, Val runs away to New York and ends up on the streets with Sketchy Dave, Lollie and Dave’s older brother, Luis. I really liked these characters. Although they were Black’s definition of ‘cool’ (piercings and drug use and stealing) they seemed believable. They were unreliable and at times Val questioned her friendship with them, and who she was becoming through her friendship with them. Sometimes I liked them, Lollie welcomed Val with open arms into their abandoned train station home but as the novel wore on I found some of the actions horrible (Lollie killing her kitten and Dave’s murder of a policewoman). They were’nt good or evil though, and that’s what made them real. These characters were much more developed them those of Tithe and I think that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed Valiant more. Ravus, the aforementioned beast in this novel was a much better and more rounded love interest then in Tithe. He was honourable and kind, and the romance will Val was slow burning rather then rushed. I again loved the world Black has created – the Fairies and their customs and ways of life and her language.
The pace of the novel is very slow, and the plot is extremly stop and start – there was quite a long section where the only thing that happened was that Val got hooked on fairy drugs. I think the book is almost too long for the amount of plot – if it had being cut down and made a faster-paced read I would have enjoyed it more. I also would have like more subplots – maybe one about the search for Val. I find it hard to believe that if a sixteen year old had gone missing in New York a police officer would leave a message on her phone and be done with it. I also found the end almost too perfect – everything ended happily – Val got the guy and went back to her normal life. Their was no consequences for her month on the streets.
Having said all that I did enjoy the book, although I won’t be re-reading and re-reading it any time soon. My next book is Ironside, the last book in the trilogy so expect a review on that soon. I also visited waterstones yesterday and picked up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I have heard a lot of good things about it so I am excited to read it.