Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black. The Goodreads summary:
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.
I wouldn’t classify myself as a vampire fan in general. Obviously, there are some exceptions (“Sunshine” and the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series being the ones that most immediately spring to mind), but usually, when I find out a book’s about vampires, that’s something that tends to make me more skeptical of it rather than excited for it. But you see, this vampire book’s by Holly Black. I mean, come on. Holly Black. Plus, it had one of my favorite titles of the year going for it. So moral of the story, I decided to read it. And I loved it.

It’s just . . . edgy and dark and a little gory and basically everything I wanted a YA vampire book to be. It starts out with Tana waking up at a party where essentially everyone but her has been murdered, if that gives you any idea of the kind of book we’re dealing with. And Tana is not a bright and happy character, even before everything goes wrong, and as the book progresses she only gets tougher and more and more bad-A. She’s a character whose almost impenetrable emotional armor could easily rub me the wrong way, but for some reason, it never did. I liked her even when she was doing things that had me practically shrieking, “Don’t do it, Tana!” I think it’s because even when she was doing things that were basically suicidal, she was doing them with a purpose and with her eyes open and not because she’s na├»ve or dumb.

Also, Gavriel. Well, all the vampires really, but mostly Gavriel. I mostly just kind of really love him. He’s so much of a mystery at first, which is probably what sucked me in, and on top of that he’s dark and dangerous and there’s no mistaking him for a pseudo-bad boy with a heart of gold. His heart is dark and his badness goes perilously close to the bone. But it doesn’t go quite all the way there, which is what makes him so fascinating to me—those moments when you see that his morals may be horribly twisted, but they still, just barely, remain morals.

The only thing that didn’t work as well for me was that there was no clear plot direction. Tana is taking things one day—one hour, really—at a time and doesn’t have any particular goals. She’s just trying to stay alive. And so the reader has to take things step by step along with her, not having any clues about what is going to ultimately happen. And for me, without a definite direction, the story felt a little, well, directionless at times.

Overall, an engrossing read. This isn’t a light-hearted book by any means, but if you’re in the mood for something a little darker, I totally recommend it.

Rating: 4 / 5

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I love those darker, grittier kinds of reads, so this book is making me excited! There were a lot of mixed reviews when this first came out, and with my immediate apprehension about vampire books, I was really hesitant to pick this one up (I mean, come on, we all basically think 'vampires' and that equates to 'Twilight' =P). So I'm glad you were hesitant as well, but still managed to really love this one! =) I love how Tana is a toughie, making informed decisions and actions. I just hate when some MC makes a suicidal attempt just for the heck of it. Ugh. But it's great to see Tana isn't like that at all. =)

    Also, Gavriel really has my attention piqued. I like a good bad boy, but I like this sound of his morals just almost being completely twisted up. There's always some goodness in a person, and it's cool that Holly Black managed to show that even in a character like Gavriel.

    Lovely review, Karen! It looks like I'm going to have to be reading this one. <3

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