Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Holly Black
Young Adult Paranormal
Published: September 2013

image: Goodreads
Who else other than an established author like Holly Black can manage to get a young adult vampire book published in 2013? While vampires will continue to morph in new forms, the genre seems to excel most when it returns to darker roots. The vampires in Coldtown are not sparkly, swoon-worthy heroes. They're ugly, ravaging beasts.

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.

4 comments:

  1. I picked up this book because I loved Holly Black's previous stories, but I haven't read it yet. Glad to hear there's some real fun to be had here.

    Thanks for the review!

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  2. I just started a Holly Black book! I'm only two chapters in, so we'll see how it goes... she's obviously had success so I'm expecting to love her writing. This book totally sounds like my kind of thing. I'll read vampires any day, LOL. :)

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  3. Loved this one and I am not really a big vampire fan. I just adore Holly Black's writing. Her Curseworkers series is one of my favorite YA series of all time.
    Happy New Year, Stephanie, and thanks for stopping by :)
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  4. I am so over vampires, but this book picked me up and wouldn't let me go. It's kind of Twilight meets Warm Bodies, but the writing is 10,000 times better. Three pages in I felt like I was caught up in a horror movie wanting to scream to the main character to run. I love the main character--she was strong, brave, and thoughtful, but she also dealt with fear the way a lot of people do--by hiding it and trying to work her way through obstacles. The Coldest Girl is Coldtown is a cool read!
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