Valerian is a young, rather naive teenager who is being stalked. Even though it's fairly obvious who her stalker is from the get-go, she lives in a world of denial about it. Maybe it's because of her young age (she's fourteen and admittedly innocent), that she cannot reconcile the high school TA of her art class to the threatening fb messages and disturbing "gift" in her gym locker. The imagery of a chess game and the hunter stalking its prey is very appropriate, but to this reader, another type of character is brought to mind. Lolita.
For a good part of the book, Val fights her gut feeling that he is dangerous and intends to harm her despite numerous warning signs. Her friend Lisa, flat-out tells him stay away and lets her know his nick name- "Hit List Guy". But like Lolita, Val is attracted to him. She even pursues him to an extent.
...I've been hunting you this whole time, waiting for you to stray from the path. But you-you came into the woods after me."
While Humbert Humbert of Lolita is quite a bit older than Gavin, Gavin speaks like someone in his thirties rather than in high school. Part of the reason Val can't believe her stalker is Gavin is due to the fact that on Facebook he sounds like an older man or someone from a different time period. That's where the similarities end, though. While Humbert Humbert tries to blame Lolita for his pedophilia, Gavin is completely cognizant of what he's doing and what a threat he is to Val. As far as I can tell, he never lies about his intentions. Even when she asks him directly about Facebook, he gives a non-answer, instead of a deceitful one. This reader tends to believe that he would have admitted to being a stalker if Val had asked him directly.
The adults in this story are quivering balls of ineptitude. Their absence/negligence gives Gavin free reign to hunt Val. (view spoiler)
Of course all of this is a great set up for a sequel. This book is a definite page turner and much like a horror movie, I found myself screaming at Val. "Don't go in there! Stop! Do you want to die?" The cover design of the chessboard is perfect. Moral of the story-listen to your gut, and your friend, Lisa.