Young Adult Paranormal
Published: September 2013
The book opens with a memorable, stage-setting scene. Tana wakes up in a bathtub, in the house where she partied the previous night. Outside the bathroom door, corpses. An entire house full of them.
Tana survives the massacre, along with her newly infected ex-boyfriend, and another boy who is probably a vampire and definitely trouble. Tana and the boys set out for the nearest Coldtown, the barricaded cities where vampires (and others who were not fortunate to get out in time), are quarantined from the rest of the population. There the guys will be safe and not hunted down by the authorities, and blamed for the massacre. Tana plans to get out through a sketchy plan involving turning in a vampire for bounty and obtaining a marker to be released back out of the Coldtown.
What takes this story a level above what it could have been is a rich backstory involving Tana's mother who had been bitten. Her memories flash back to her mother chained in the basement, trying to wait out the infection, which is technically possible if the newly infected does not feed. The story vacillates between past memories and the current trek to Coldtown. The dynamic between Tana and her ex is interesting, again taking this beyond a typical love triangle to more of an oddball survival story. Another layer that adds interest is how social media predictably skews the image of vampires into cool, intentional social outcasts. The vampires stream 24-hour dance parties, and flocks of people done with mundane living try to make into Coldtowns, oblivious that the reality is not what has been presented.
Tana is not a typical do-gooder main character. Her past relationships are flawed, her current relationships difficult. She is the type you want to wrap in a warm blanket and talk some sense into. Instead, Tana forges headfirst into a bleak world destined to hurt her. To save people she has complicated relationships with. It's not a sentimental take on vampires, but there is hope and some real fun in this story. If you've longed for a little more Ann Rice in your YA vampire fic, here you go.