Friday, September 13, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Review)

Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, 
Publication.Date  September 3rd 2013
Published By:  Little, Brown Books For Your Readers
Author's GRHolly Black 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown on Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy picked up at BEA 2013
Where to get:

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.

Vampires were fairy tales and magic. They were the wolf in the forest who ran ahead to grandmother's house, the video game big boss who could be hunted without guilt, the monster who tempted you into his bed, the powerful eternal beast one might become. The beautiful dead, la belle mort. And if, after gorging themselves in an orgy of death, they became less lovely, if they became bloated and purple and horrible, then they hid it well. 
"People ask all the time whether vampires are like us. I always say that in my two years trapped inside, I played checkers with vampires. I sat on stoops with vampires. and they were a lot like the people they'd been before. But they weren't the same. Vampires are predators and we're prey. You've got to never forget that."
The farther they got from the farmhouse, the more Gavriel seemed like a monster all on his own. She thought of his eyes, red like spilled garnets, red like poppies, red as the bright embers of a fire. She thought of what they taught in school: cold hands, dead heart. 
"Why don't they just eat one another and leave us alone?"
Principle Wong stood up, ready to scold Tana, but Ms. Baez wasn't paying any attention.
"Oh, they do, kid," said Ms. Baez. "They eat one another. They eat us. They eat every damn thing. They'll drink up the whole world if we let them." 
They looked absurdly gorgeous, glowing from the television like fallen angels. Even from the beginning, that was a problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them. 

     Part dark fantasy, part paranormal romance, and part dystopia - Holly Black's new book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, is a delicious treat for all fans of vampire stories out there. 
     This is a stand-alone novel (even though it sure leaves you wishing for more), and in my opinion it's nothing short of perfect. A tale about life and death, guilt and redemption, love and betrayal. From the moment when Tana wakes up alone in a house filled with dead bodies of her friends, to the skillfully crafted and delightfully satisfying conclusion - this story is intense, captivating and seamlessly plotted

    Holly Black's vampires are terrifying, yes, but they're also tragic and complex. The author reminds us that they're cold, merciless, bloodthirsty predators by nature, but she also captures the glory and the drama, the deceitful beauty and profound sadness that surrounds these creatures. She makes them look almost human, but without making them seem weak, approachable and tame. 
       I loved the concept of Coldtowns. Quarantined towns and cities, completely cut-off from the rest of the country, guarded and impenetrable - places good for one thing and one thing only: turning into a vampire after going cold, or becoming a meal. Downright scary. I wouldn't go into one even with a bag full of markers.

     I also thought the fact that you didn't immediately turn into a vampire after being bitten or scratched made the story that much more interesting to follow. The time period between going cold and being cured of the infection was long and painful, and it was weirdly fascinating to read about different people's reactions to being infected.

     Holly Black created a dark and terrifying world and filled it with three-dimensional characters that you won't be able to ignore or forget.  You might not immediately love them, but they'll definitely grow on you as you go deeper into the story.
     Some characters I found more interesting than others, some annoyed me, some even infuriated me, but in the end I have to admit that all the characters are well developed and fleshed out with surprising care for detail. Yes, even the annoying ones.

     Tana is a very interesting heroine. As we follow her into the deadly depths of Coldtown, and we learn more about her, the traumatic events of her past and the broken relationship with her father, we begin to understand her and her decisions better, and - inevitably - we start rooting for her. She's quite a complex character. There were moments when her reactions and decisions baffled me (to say the least), but it's true that she wasn't always easy to read. Sometimes you have to wait a bit, and get to know her better, to be able to fully understand her. 

    Gavriel is a beautifully tragic character. If - like me - you are a fan of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles than you'll be able to fully appreciate his character. In many ways, he reminded me of Lestat. An evil monster seeking redemption and forgiveness for his sins. He's mysterious and seductive, all torn and broken inside, soulless and yet so profoundly human. Mmm.. pure delight! 

     As for Aidan (Tana's ex-boyfriend), I didn't like him at all. Honestly, I often found myself wondering why Tana helped him escape from the vampire-infested house in the first place. Selfish, arrogant and completely untrustworthy, he was nothing more but a pain most of the time. 
     I loved all the vivid descriptions of people and places, the creepy imagery, and original twists on the vampire lore. The lavish details made it possible for me to visualize everything in my head but they did not slow the story down even a bit. 

     Coldest Girl in Coldtown is fast-paced and gripping. There are no boring moments, it's an all-around crazy ride full of twisty turns and breathtaking surprises. Holly Black's writing style is addictive and vibrant, her descriptions are mesmerizing, and the dialogues are crackling with tension, chemistry and wit. And her prose is just so darn captivating! 
     It's not your usual vamp novel, it's something completely new, completely fresh, and completely awesome. Plus, it's Holly Black, so you're practically guaranteed a fantastic, unforgettable time. If you're in a mood for a good paranormal romance with elements of horror and fantasy, this is the book for you. 

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