Dec 8, 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 3, 2013
Pages/Format: 419, ARC

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.

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: Good!

I'm a huge fan of vampires. Seriously. I love them. (And a lot of people seem to think I am one.) So when I heard about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I was intrigued. And then I saw this drawing by Cassandra Jean and was even more intrigued. I'd heard grand things about Holly Black and hadn't read any of her books, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But after reading this novel, I found it to be an interesting story and a unique take on vampires.

The vampires in Coldtown aren't like the vampires you usually hear about. Yes, they drink blood and avoid the sun and so on, but there's a certain coexistence--or lack thereof--with humans. When a human is bit by a vampire, they go Cold. If you go Cold and drink human blood, then voila, you're a vampire. But if you don't want to be a vampire and can manage to go a certain amount of days (ninety, was it?) without drinking human blood, you'll stay human. But resisting the Cold isn't easy, and most people succumb to it (or take drastic, hard measures to fight it). To keep the vampires out and prevent more from roaming the streets and turning more people, Coldtowns were created. If you're Cold or a vampire, that's where you go so the infection isn't spread. And unless you manage to get a marker (good luck with that), once you're in a Coldtown, you're never getting out.

It's interesting. Vampires are simultaneously feared and shut out and worshiped and glorified. There are livestreams coming from Coldtowns that show what's happening, like glamorous parties filled with vampires. People even make plans to go to Coldtown and get bit and become a vampire. I've read books with vampires and humans in one place (like The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine, though it's vampire problem isn't well-known and worldwide), but I don't think I've read one like this. Vampirism is an epidemic. It's like a disease that refuses to quit. It's like trying to be famous--some succeed, some don't. It's kind of fascinating.

There wasn't really much that I disliked about this book, or that was a glaring issue. While there were some slow parts (Tana and Gavriel weren't on the same page for too long, and I hate when that happens) and I did put it down for awhile (not because I didn't like it, but because other things came up), I liked this book. I was intrigued from page one and kept turning page after page. It was interesting how chapter's alternated between Tana's present POV and either her past or someone else's POV, but sometimes I just wanted the present. I didn't mind Black's writing at all--it was kind of lovely, actually--and would absolutely read more from her. (I think I'll start with her Curse Workers series.)

I know I'm saying this word a lot, but the characters were interesting. The main character was Tana, who travels to Coldtown after she fears she may turn Cold herself, and also to bring in her Cold ex-boyfriend Aiden, and Gavriel the vampire (who she could bring in in exchange for a marker). I pretty much hated Aiden--total douche, and just ugh. Gavriel, on the other hand...I loved him. He was friggin' sexy. There's not nearly enough of him in the book. I just want more. And back to Tana, I didn't mind her POV. She could be annoying, but the way she was written, she didn't come off that way (thank gosh).

In the end, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was pretty good. I liked the unique take on vampires and their dynamics in the human world, and even though the story took place in a few days, for the most part, it worked. The writing was great, I was interested in the characters (well, most of them), and the story was painted well and I wanted to know how everything was going to pan out. (If you've read the book, there's a scene with three vampires in the past, and they're walking down a street to go meet the Spider, I believe. It had an Originals-esque feel to it, and the image in my head was just SO COOL.) The ending wasn't bad, but it was a bit too open--I don't really know what's going to happen. I think this is a standalone, but I sincerely hope there's going to be a sequel. If so, I will TOTALLY read it. (Plus, more vampires. And Gavriel. I love them both.)

Did I like it? A lot, I believe.
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? Yes.
Would I purchase it? Yes.
Who would I recommend it to? Of course fans of vampires (and Holly Black, I'd assume), those who like a common story turned into something different, and fans of page-turners. 

I received a copy of this book from Books and Sensibility ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review, and that in no way sways my opinion of the book.


  1. I really enjoyed this read, too. I haven't read too many vampire books, so it was something new (somewhat) for me.

    YA Sisterhood

  2. Holly Black's Curse Workers series is one of my favorite series ever (I totally recommend that you read it!) but for some reason, I wasn't that interested in reading this book. Your review makes me really curious about it, though, so I think I'll have to pick it up soon! I really like vampires, and this sounds like a new and interesting take on them, so I'll have to give this a chance. :)

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  4. The story was amazing and intriguing and filled with realistically drawn
    characters and all sorts of moral dilemmas. While it isn't for younger
    young adults because of the the graphic violence, I think older young
    adults will be as enthralled as I was by the world Black has created. I
    highly recommend it.
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