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Valiant (The Modern Faerie Tales, #2) - Holly Black Not so valiant of an effort

In Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, the follow-up to Holly Black's Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, the reader is taken to a different realm of Faerie, deep in the boroughs of New York City. After high school student Val catches her mother in an act of betrayal, she runs away and starts living with a rough group of kids in the subway. Drug use and addiction, violence, and ties to Faerie appear, including a plot to frame someone for murder. Through this, Val copes with her changed life, her growing addiction, and the dangerous situations that surround her.

Compared to Tithe, the writing in Valiant was stronger (but not strong), with fewer abrupt jumps between scenes. Things also seemed to make more sense. There's more character development, but not a lot. I was left feeling ambivalent towards her characters again. While valiant on a few occasions, Val isn't that remarkable as a character. It also becomes apparent that Black doesn't have a knack for developing romantic or sexual chemistry. In both Tithe and Valiant, the romance starts with a scary male character who acts horribly toward the female lead, and, in the next scene, she's falling for him. It's very odd and unsatisfying.

The faeries in the novel are used more as a device to talk about teen runaways, homelessness, and addiction than as a fantastical element, which was disappointing. The profanity is also turned up a notch, with frequent uses of the f-bomb and similar. However, that's not as disconcerting as the animal cruelty, drug abuse, sexual coercion, and violence described. However, Black admittedly does do a good job of removing any romance from the idea of running away and using drugs.

I finished reading this book a few days ago, and I can't even remember much about it. That's how much it didn't stick with me. If you're looking for a faery series with better writing, better plot, and more character development and romance, I would recommend Maggie Stiefvater's Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie or even Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series.