{Book Review} The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

{Book Review} The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly BlackThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on 2013-09-03
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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.
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The big question of vampires, the question that haunts governments and individuals alike, the question that bugs me every night when I see their red eyes watching the citizens of Coldtown the way hungry cats watch fish in a bucket is: What are they? Are they diseased or demonic? Are they humans who have become ill, deserving hospitals and care, as some have argued? Or are they the bodies of our loved ones animated by some dark force that we ought to seek to destroy?

pg. 398

I’m quite surprised at the amount of negative reviews for this book. At 3.87 stars on Good Reads ( not a bad rating by any means, but certainly lower than I believe it deserves), I expected less from this book. Perhaps readers have simply lost faith in vampire books?

Dracula recoils from your disappointing reviews!

Anyway, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is disturbing, gritty, romantic, and violent, with an interesting array of characters that all want wildly different things. Or perhaps, when it really comes down to it, what they all want is exactly the same. Tana lives in a world where vampires and the unlucky humans who happened to live near them are shut in walled cities that have been dubbed “coldtowns”. These fanged immortals rule the streets; humans beg to be turned, but the vampires are very selective, leaving many desperate and disappointed.  Tana finds herself inside a Coldtown, after a series of insane and horrible events, along with her ex-boyfriend, a strange, seemingly insane vampire, and some hitch-hikers they picked up on the road. But the Coldtown is nothing like they imagined it; instead of sparkly and glamorous, as it’s shown on TV, Coldtown is a dangerous place, with death around every corner and no one to trust. And Gavriel, the insane vampire who has taken an interest in Tana, has some disturbing business with an old friend who rules Coldtown. The deeper in Tana gets, the less sure she becomes of who she is, and whether or not she’ll ever see home again.

And she remembered what Gavriel had said when she’d woken up handcuffed to a bed. Being infected, being a vampire, it’s always you. Maybe it’s more you than ever before. It’s you as you always were, deep down inside.

pg. 374

Arriving in Coldtown is a bit of a shock to our heroes; it seems more a post-apocalyptic wasteland than playground of the rich and immortal. Watching them navigate the unknown and eerie city was tense and kept me reading late into the night, especially knowing that certain people were infected (bitten by a vampire-the first step to being turned; once infected it’s only a matter of time before you drink human blood and become a full vampire). Not knowing who was friend or foe got Tana into trouble more than once, and forced her to adapt quickly. The infection on top of that gave the book a timer of sorts. Everyone who is infected is either living on borrowed time or they are now a vampire. It is possible to wait out the infection, but it’s like trying to kick an addiction to heroine. Most people don’t succeed.

There is so much to like here. Holly Black isn’t afraid to throw stuff at the reader that they might not be expecting. Tana herself goes through a bit of an identity crisis, especially once things start heating up at the end; she finds herself doing things that disgust and terrify her. But she is willing to work through what she’s done and move forward. I thought she was a great character with a fascinating story arc. And I thought she was very brave by the end. Somewhat stupid, sure. She sort of rushes into things, but she understands the weight of the situation.

Gavriel and Tana have such an interesting relationship. I LOVED how Holly Black developed that; it was pretty different than many YA Paranormal Romances, and I so appreciate that fact. This is not an insta-love, sunshine and rainbows relationship. Tana wrestles with the fact that she knows Gavriel is a monster. It was such a different perspective than normal, and I thought it was great.

Side characters were fun, and there were plenty of them. Crazy humans, trying to become vampires, crazy vampires just trying to find their place in the world. And the next big party.  You know. The usual.

Holly Black writes with a lyric quality, and the words flow with ease and polish. This book is not for the faint of heart, as it has lots of violence and disturbing images. Certain characters are motivated by revenge, and some have been horrifically tortured. Now, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re wary of vampire books. Many are ridiculous, and completely miss the point of being about vampires. If, however, you are willing to give vampires a second chance, you can’t do better than Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

If you liked The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, here’s what I recommend reading next:  The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.

5 Stars

4 comments

  1. Denise says:

    I really enjoyed this book too! I don’t know why so many people don’t like it! I loved the idea of an infection spreading, and I thought it was an original twist on vampires, which has 100% been overused (yet I still like it!). I really liked Tana too!

    Denise | The Bibliolater

    • Jessica says:

      Right? I thought there were a lot of clever ideas in it. I’m baffled at the lack of enthusiasm. Maybe people shy away from it because it’s vampires?

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