Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
Format: Hardcover; 432 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 3, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316213101
ISBN-13: 978-0316213103
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC at BEA. Contains underage drinking, violence and gore.

ELEVEN YEARS AGO, vampires were thought to be the stuff of Legends.

TEN YEARS AGO, the legend was proved to be true as a single vampire, Caspar Morales, decided to seduce and bite his way across America in the style of the old fashioned Hollywood vampire movies infecting hundreds as he went.

SEVEN YEARS AGO, Tana's Mom was infected, and Tana got a first hand look at what the infection did to a person. An event which has haunted Tana for years.

TODAY, Tana woke up, after passing out at a party, to find all her friends and classmates who had attended, some whom she'd know since kindergarten, dead from a violent vampire attack. As she made her way around the house, she found only one other survivor, her ex-boyfriend, Aidan. He was tied to a bed and infected with a full fledged vampire tied to the bed next to him. Deciding she would not let another of her friends die, because vampires were in effect dead, she decides to get them out. With perhaps a misguided sense of righteousness, she also decides to save the vampire who had warned her they were not alone. While trying to escape, however, she'll find herself bitten too and the trio will seek out shelter in one of the nation's many Coldtowns.

When a person is infected they are said to have gone Cold. Their temperature drops, their senses heighten and there craving for human blood begins. The only proven way to prevent an infected person from becoming a full blown vampire is to keep them from drinking human blood for a total of eighty eight days. That's how long it takes for the virus which causes vapirism to be flushed out of a person's system. In the aftermath of spread of vapirism, the government established a number of Coldtowns across the country. These were towns where large outbreaks had occurred and the military had quarantined them off, effectively trapping within its walls a combination of vampires, the infected and those who were unluckily enough to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

NOW, the countdown begins. Can they survive eighty eight days without giving in to their hunger? Can they survive in a town full of vampires--a group known to usually feed and then kill its prey? If they can survive without being turned, can they find their way out? For nothing in this world is ever truly guaranteed, not even your freedom from a Coldtown.


Holly Black creates a dark and scary world. A world where vampires would rather kill than make you one of them. A world where the government is attempting to regain control and make the world a safer place by corralling vampires and the infected into Coldtowns. A world where children are taught from an early age how vampirism is transmitted in the hope of stopping its spread. From the first page, Black sets the tone for this one with its horrific start. Just imagine waking up to find everyone around you dead. I can't even fathom it. 

A lot of world building goes on throughout the book. I like how Black actually gives us a fairly detailed explanation of how her world came about. As the book progresses, we not only get a glimpse of the unrest in the world, but of what life is like for someone living in confined space of a Coldtown is like. As can only be expected, there are those who think the life of a vampire is desirable and go to Coldtowns seeking eternal youth and life. The outside world isn't privy to all that goes on inside of Coldtowns, they just get glimpses via the feed streamed through blogs which paint a picture of only a portion of what goes on there. As one might expect, its darker and more sinister side isn't the part that gets air time. While schools and churches can preach of how vampires are as deadly and dangerous as any other predator, they can't stress enough for some that they are not to be romanticized about or trusted. They are unpredictable by nature and can turn on someone without a moment's notice.   

Tana, our protaganist, is strong yet weak in character. She's strong in how she can remain calm under pressure and is resilient, but her relationship with Aidan shows how she's is easily mislead. Her desire to please him clouds her judgement and makes her act at times recklessly. This is one of my pet peeves about young adult books. Even after the guy breaks up with her, she's still tries to impress and please him. Seriously? You'd make out with his new girl friend just because it gets him off? Have some self respect. The way he treated her was demeaning. If a guy is willing to share, that's your first clue that he's not all that in to you. Tana even admits that doing all Aidan asks of her still didn't keep him by her side. In my humble opinion, the message can't get much clearer than that. I was hopeful she saw the error of her ways, but I wasn't a hundred percent convinced by the end of the book that she had.

Aidan was one of my least favorite characters in the book. He's reckless, self centered, cocky, and a typical bad boy, but with few redeeming qualities. Thankfully, it doesn't look like he and Charlie are likely to pick up where they left off. I'm curious if being in Coldtown will change him. By the end of the book, I was starting to wonder.

Gavriel is the intriguing and mysterious vampire that Tana finds bound with Aidan at the beginning of the book. He seems the opposite of Aidan in many ways, and I rather liked him. We learn as the trio make their way into the Coldtown that he's come to Coldtown for a specific purpose, to kill someone. Who, we don't know.  

Overall, I gave this one a 3 out of 5 roses. I liked the world Ms. Black created. The book had a nice pace, and there was a lot going on to keep a person's attention. It contained plenty of betrayal and a twist or two to keep things interesting. Plus, the cliffhanger as to whether or not Tana will turn or not was enjoyable. I suspect Ms. Black will throw in another twist as to how that will turn out in the next book. She strikes me as having the type of imagination that likes to mix things up to keep things interesting. While I didn't instantly bond with the characters, I was starting to warm to them by the end. I'm interested enough to know what Ms. Black will do in the next book to keep me reading.

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