Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black. (courtesy of Goodreads.)
A few weeks ago, I spent a week in New York City. We stayed in New Jersey, which meant I 30+ minutes on a bus to and from the city. Since I was trying to conserve my iPhone battery, I had nothing to do other than read. How refreshing. Despite obviously being a big reader, focusing on a book is increasingly difficult as the Internet beckons 24/7. What a luxury to be forced to read. I lucked out by bringing a fabulous book on my trip. I couldn't put The Coldest Girl in Coldtown down.
I'm an unabashed lover of all things vampire. Still, I get tired of reading the same vampire story over and over with practically nothing but character names replaced. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is different. Gritty. Edgy. Not overly romance focused. Some people have described this book as similar to Julie Kagawa's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown series, but it's very different. It's not really a dystopia and is set in a more limited world. The book that it did remind me of is Sunshine by Robin McKinley, one of my favorite vampire stories.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is set in an alternate reality. Just like in the Curse Workers series, I love how Holly Black sets the book in our world but with a few significant changes. Vampires have always existed in this world, but only recently have the overtaken large swaths of society. An epidemic. The vampires are exiled to "Coldtowns." On the outside, life is pretty normal except for popular vampire reality television shows and teenagers dreaming of escaping to Coldtown.
Tana is likable character with tenacity and inner strength. Although despite being a kick-ass girl, she's coming off a relationship with a manipulative, possessive jerk of a boyfriend. But that can happen to the best of us... I loved how Tana found herself in horrible situations but pushed through with bravery and common sense. She maintained her own opinions when those around her fell under the spell of vampires or succumbed to their inner demons. Tana was tough when she needed to be, but also unhesitatingly compassionate to her awful ex-boyfriend and to Gavriel, the mysterious vampire.
I loved Gavriel. He adheres to some of the vampire tropes of a haunted, beautiful soul. But he's also crazy - legitimately insane - and unpredictable. He isn't the stereotypical bad boy with a heart of gold. Rather he's more like two people. Freaky, scary vampire and compassionate, poetic soul. The problem is you're not sure which one he's going to be.
The romance is subtle in this book, which was wonderful. Gavriel and Tana connected on the basis of the choices each character made. It didn't feel like insta-love. The book also avoids a love triangle. Even though Tana's ex-boyfriend hangs around, there's never a competition between them. For the most part, all the characters are too consumed with their own problems to focus on love.
Some reviews have complained about the book's pacing. Mostly, I thought everything flowed very smoothly. The only part where it dragged for me was about the 50% mark through the 75% mark (which I suppose is a rather large part). I put the book down for a few days at that point. But soon enough, things picked up and I was once again glued to the pages. My only other problem with the story is that I didn't like the ending. The ending isn't bad per se, but it's not what I would have chosen. But kudos to Holly for going that route.
If you're a fan of Holly Black, you'll love The Coldest Girl in Coldtown series. I don't think it's quite as good as White Cat, but it's just as good as last two books in the Curse Workers series. It's an edgy take on vampires with just enough finger-curling-good romance.
Rating: 4 / 5
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