Below is a review I immediately posted on Amazon.com in response to the parents who nit-picked at the insignificant details of the book.
First of all, let me just correct all the parents by saying this book is NOT labeled as Children’s Literature. It is labeled as YOUNG ADULT Literature. Therefore, readers who are not mature enough to handle content about some sex, drugs, alcohol, foul language and/or violence should not be reading this book. This means no one should be shocked by the “adult” content. I just have to add this point to my review because I feel Holly Black is a phenomenal writer (as proven in her previous book Tithe), yet her book Valiant is “bashed” for the wrong reasons. So let me tell you the right reasons why her Valiant should be “bashed”.
This story has no purpose because Val, the protagonist, doesn’t pursue any character growth until the very last two chapters of the novel. Val is a naive girl who is betrayed by her mother and acts out by running to a new life. However, even when she is hit with a double dose of reality on her journey, she chooses to remain naive. She doesn’t learn from her mistakes, which forces us readers to lose faith in her. Throughout 90 percent of the novel, Val just gets high with faerie dust, uses profanity, and hangs out with her new friends who appear to be bunch of “losers,” which makes her a “loser” herself. This is evident when she is seduced by Dave and has sex with him. I was so angry with this desperate and unnecessary love affair that I had to quite reading for a long period time.
When I eventually completed the book, I realized the most infuriating problem with the story is that it lacks a fantastical element compared to Tithe. Valiant starts with a tree confined by iron (interesting), then it switches to Val and her new lifestyle (not interesting), until the middle when we meet Mabry and Ravus (very interesting). Mabry and Ravus are the only characters that hold my attention, yet they are only mentioned a few times in the middle of the book and have a short cameo at the very end.
Basically, I can go on and on listing the problems in this book. So, to sum everything up in a few words, Valiant is repetitive and disappointing. I will admit that this book has plenty of potential because it nicely ties the modern, urban reality with the mythical world, but potential is not enough. Check out this book at your local library if you are dying of curiosity.
You have been warned!