The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
September 3rd 2013
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.
I've always been sort of ambivalent towards vampires. I think that they're interesting and stuff, but out of all the paranormal creatures, they were never really the ones that fully captured my fancy. Despite this, when I saw that Holly Black had a vampire book coming out, I was super excited. I love Holly's books. I think that she's awesome. And I actually liked Coldtown a lot, even though I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for it. It's not my favourite of Holly's books, though.
Coldtown was a little bit weird, because as times I felt like it was going to be really different from other vampire books that I've read, and at other times it seemed to fall into that sort of unironic borderline-cheesy romance stuff. But it wasn't so overt that it was distracting or annoying. It kind of worked, and I actually quite liked the developments between Tana and Gavriel. Mainly because it didn't feel like the main part of the book, and also because maybe I was in the mood for a bit of a romantic subplot when I read this. I know I used to complain about it a lot, but I sometimes like a bit of romance.
Anyhoo, I don't know why I started this review talking about that aspect of the book, especially when there was so much more going on. I loved the idea of the Coldtowns, and the ways in which social media had become so entwined with the vampire culture in this world. Vampires would have livestreams of lavish parties in their homes and blog their experiences of vampire life to the world outside of the Coldtowns. Holly Black spoke about this at her event a couple of weeks ago, about how social media and reality tv and the like have sort of become our way of distancing ourselves from what scares us by turning it into something trivial. Obviously, in this case, the scary thing being vampires. And they are actually pretty scary. Gavriel, despite being the romantic lead, is kind of unhinged after being brutally tortured for about ten years, and is pretty unpredictable. Lucien, the fanciest vampire in Coldtown, is cold and calculating and likes to think that he's in control. The most worrying, though, are the new vampires that cannot control their thirst and will drink whatever blood they can find. Case in point, Winter and Midnight, a brother and sister who enter the Coldtown with Tana, Aiden and Gavriel who both want to vampires. It doesn't end well. It wasn't anything revolutionary or completely different as far as vampires and vampire mythology goes, but it was well executed and the social media stuff was an interesting new angle.
The only thing I will say that I think dragged the books pace down quite a lot was the fact that it was kind of told in alternating chapters. Half of the chapters were the actual main story, and the other half provided the backstory for the characters like Tana and Gavriel and also Tana's sister, Pearl's, part of the story. So it's not like it was irrelevant or anything and I liked having the opportunity to get to see some of the characters lives more in depth without it being a big sort of info-dump with them telling another character about what happened to them. So I didn't actively dislike it, but I did find it kind of distracting from the main story to be taken out of it every other chapter, you know?
I really liked The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (and I love that title and the cover like woah), but it's not my favourite of Holly Black's books. I did like the fact that it was a standalone (I think?), though, and I thought that it is different enough from the other vampire books around to make it worth reading even if you feel like you are fed up with vampires.