When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russell 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. Impulsive Lolli talks of monsters in the ...
When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russell 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. Impulsive Lolli talks of monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and shoots up a shimmery amber-colored powder that makes the shadows around her dance. Severe Luis claims he can make deals with creatures that no one else can see. And then there's Luis's brother, timid and sensitive Dave, who makes the mistake of letting Val tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who turns out to have goat hooves instead of feet. When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been dealing, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honorable. And as Val grows to know him, she finds herself torn between her affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming. Bestselling author Holly Black follows her breakout debut, "Tithe, " with a rich, harrowing, and compulsively readable parable of betrayal, abuse, friendship, and love.
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Man, this book was depressing at times. Betrayal, murder, drug addiction, you name it, this book might just have it. At the same time, I thought it accurately portrayed the depth of stupidity a teenager can get herself into when she's depressed. Black's writing seems to have tightened up for this second outing into the world of faerie introduced in "Tithe." She's still obviously writing for teens and pre-teens but for what it was, the writing was smooth and convincing. Val is sort of an every-teen, sort of a misfit who is just trying to get by in school, and it's easy to follow her as the story's protagonist without moralizing or feeling annoyed by her destructive choices. At its heart I thought it was a pretty strident warning against self-medicating and drug use, and an ode to the possibility of redemption. I enjoyed it. It's nothing earth-shattering, but I had a nice time reading it.
Sep 16, 2007
Holly Black introduces a new version of a troll (at least new to me) where the troll is simply the progeny of a human and a faerie. The book is obviously written for a younger teenager, as demonstrated by the simple diction. Black could have made events in the story more sophisticated and significant. For example, Val's addiction to Never (a faerie drug) isn't fully developed and left me wondering "WHAAT?! Two weeks already passed?! And she's addicted to drugs now?!"
Fast read. Basic plotline is okay. It is great to see that Black makes the distinction that differences between the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court are not exactly the same as Good v. Evil.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-08-21 What makes Black's books so appealing to young adult readers is their well-balanced mix of reality (including a healthy dose of sex), high-concept fantasy and old-fashioned mystery. Raudman's expert reading of Black's second book in what the author calls the Faerie series catches that delicate blend very well, giving equal weight and credibility to characters who are definitely human (like heroine Valerie, her dismal school mates, her tacky family and the sad young derelicts she meets in the subway tunnels of New York) and those who are from another world entirely like the golden-eyed troll Ravus, who delivers a drug that heals faeries but kills the human runaways who steal it, looking for a way to improve their desperate condition. Raudman, whom listeners might recognize as several of the younger voices on The Simpsons, has a universally appealing voice likely to please hardcore fantasy fans and neophytes alike. Ages 14-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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