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.
This book is spectacular. And yet I nearly didn’t read it.
I tried The Coldest Girl in Coldtown thanks to its cover art. All I knew was that it had a pretty picture on the front – I hadn’t bothered to read the blurb. So I thought (based on the title and the art) that it had, like, magic and snow.
Maybe it was set in some place like Iceland. That’s cold, right?
When I began reading and realized the book was about vampires, I almost put it down. Vampires are cool but I’d had enough of them and didn’t want to read yet another average book about the undead.
But I kept going, and ended up reading a fantastic book about the undead.
Tana is one of my favorite female protagonists in a long time. She can be both tough and overwhelmed. She’s impulsive and daring and she makes mistakes. I’d like to meet her, or possibly be her, were it not for the vampires. Holly Black knows how to write teenage characters – it’s nice to read something written by an author who actually knows what [insert type of character here] is like and doesn’t just imagine what they’re like.
Also, lots of points to Black for including queer characters. I don’t think any of the main characters were straight – I mean, I thought Aidan would be the stereotypical ex-boyfriend jerk, and honestly he is annoying, but he isn’t Stereotypical Boy at all. And there was a transgender character! I’d never found a character like them before.
Except for the vampires, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is set in a world exactly like our own, right down to the technology. I loved all the passing mentions of the modern-day, Internet-using world: Video feeds. Web forums. Blogging. Sure, maybe electronics have no place in high fantasy, but urban fantasy is supposed to mix with real life and I haven’t seen that often enough. (Have I even seen it at all before, to the degree it appeared in this book? I’m not sure.) Juxtaposing ancient, supernatural beings with high-tech stuff was fascinating.
And now, finally, for the vampires. Although their entire characterization was well-written, I’ll admit that I didn’t pay too much attention to the history-in-flashback scenes. Instead, my favorite part was the goriness. I know that sounds weird, so I’ll explain: I don’t like goriness. And The Coldest Girl in Coldtown had just the right amount. Coldtowns are terrible, bloody places, after all, and the book included just enough description to make me shudder but not so much that I was grossed out and had to stop reading.
I have had an Excellent Reading Streak lately, no doubt helped along by The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. It is the best vampire/paranormal book I’ve ever read, one of the better YA books I know of, and a non-stereotypical dystopian novel (because it isn’t science fiction!) to boot. I predict that it will be one of my favorite books read in 2014!
What did you think of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? If you haven’t read it, I’ll hit you over the head with the book and demand that you READ IT NOW.