The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: An intriguing setting and satisfying ending are real strengths of this vampire novel, although the characters let it down slightly.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Indigo
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1780621296

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In the future, vampires exist, and everyone knows it. To try and deal with the problem of vampirism, cities have been given to the monsters and designated Coldtowns – walled cities where people can enter, but hardly ever leave. With these cities broadcast on TV 24 hours a day, they look glamorous – but those just watching can’t see the deadliness behind the glitz. Seventeen-year-old Tana is about to find out. Along with her ex-boyfriend Aiden, who’s just been infected by a vampire and has to go without drinking blood for eighty eight days or turn into one himself, and a mysterious vampire named Gavriel, she’s headed for the largest Coldtown of them all. Can they get there – and if they do, will any of them survive?

I don’t normally read vampire books these days, but picked this up partly because of the all the praise I’ve seen for Holly Black’s other novels, and partly because the setting sounded so intriguing. I’m glad I read it, but it didn’t quite live up to expectations for me.

Firstly, the positives. Black has created a world which is chillingly believable. The way in which teens, especially, are attracted to the vampires and use social media to follow and discuss their idols is clever, and the idea of a long incubation period before someone becomes a vampire is intriguing. The opening chapter, as Tana wakes up to discover she’s one of the only survivors of a massacre, is arresting.

The drawbacks are mainly character-related. Tana is a resourceful heroine but if anything holds herself together a bit too well to be completely believable, and her voice wasn’t particularly good compared to some of the excellent heroines in other recent novels of this type. I enjoyed the dynamic between her and Aiden, but was less keen on the romance between her and a certain vampire. Psychotic love interests, even as charismatic as this one, have never been something I particularly enjoyed. It also meanders a fair bit, with the scenes away from Tana’s viewpoint not really holding my attention much.

To get back to the good stuff, it’s got a great ending and appears to be a genuine standalone, which is incredibly rare in current YA paranormal fiction. If you’re looking for something to read which will actually give you a satisfying resolution rather than leave you hanging for 12 months to find out what happens next, it’s worth a look.

For more from Black, the Bookbag highly recommends the excellent Curse Workers series, starting with The White Cat.

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