Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Target Age Group: YA
My Rating: 3 out of 5

Book Jacket Blurb:

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.

My Review:

This is another book I've had the good fortune to receive from Holly Black and Book Expo America 2013, so thank you again to both.

First of all, I want to start by saying I hate writing anything negative in reviews, but I also have to be brutally honest when I give them. Thát's what I'll preface this one with.

I'll start off with the things that were great about this book.

First off, Holly Black's writing is always incredible. She writes well. Her language, dialogue, world-building, etc. are always masterfully done, and this book is no exception. The concept of vampirism as a disease, which is not a new concept, is well executed. You can easily substitute vampirism with some other type of disease and see how quarantines would be set up around the world to prevent the spread. A very realistic approach to a fictional infliction.

Also, the "coldtowns", as these quarantine zones are called, are like mini test tube societies, and it's a realistic look into how one of these towns would operate. Again, well done.

One of the characters who is Tana's (the main character) companion through much of this book is the vampire Gavriel. I found this character, and his history and interactions with another character in the book (who shall remain nameless to avoid accidentally giving anything important away), to be fascinating to me. The story involving these two characters is filled with loyalty, betrayal, camaraderie, hatred, suspense, and surprises. In short, the story of these two characters is the perfect story.

Which brings me to the things that weren't so great about this book.

Namely, Tana, the main character. Contrary to the two characters I just mentioned, Tana is not very sympathetic. She's boring, reckless, and she likes to wallow in her own guilt. None of these character traits change during the course of the book. The only thing I found interesting about Tana is when her path crossed with either (or both) of the other two characters I mentioned above. It's almost like she's not the main character at all but just a POV character, along for the ride to give us glimpses of real stories that are going on around her. Her infatuation (and I'd really call it that and not a relationship) with Gavriel is not enough to carry the story either in my opinion.

So, this one is mixed bag for me. Someone else may feel differently about the main character, so I'd check it out and form your own opinion. And it is a very interesting premise and breathes a little life into the dying idea of vampire stories.