Friday, September 27, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

If you know me, or have seen my somewhat alarming Goodreads account, you know that I read a lot. Really rather a lot. Kind of unhealthy a lot. So when I say that I stayed awake one night to finish this book, and that that hasn't happened for years, I want you to get my full meaning. 

This book will sink its fangs into you and not let go, giving your neck a bit of a shake when you start to coast. It's suspenseful and absorbing and dark. It reminds you that vampires are horrifying and dangerous, while still agreeing that, ok yeah, they are, but of course people are still drawn to them. It deals with vampires in some of the same ways True Blood does at the top of its game- by exploring how people would react to vampires now. In this book, that means strict quarantines. It means reality shows. It means tacky merchandise. It means disenfranchised kids glorifying the undead, identifying with them, and naively running away from home to join them. It means, in my new favorite example of an author actually understanding youth culture, tumblr GIFs

Tana is fierce, reckless and self-destructive, but protective and intelligent all the same. Her ex Aidan is even more flawed, and a train wreck in slow motion, but hardly a villain. Black does a good job with her sympathetic vampire character, but it is slightly well-worn territory. Much more interesting is the world-building, and the secondary characters. This book has something for every YA reader. Vampires, ballgowns, dystopian cities, disaffected youth, a handful of really steamy romance scenes- Black has you covered.


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