The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
Publish Date: September 3, 2013
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 419 pages
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
Coldtown was dangerous, Tana knew. A glamorous cage, a prison for the damned and anyone who wanted to party with them.
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. And 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.
I started reading this just before BookCon and while I wasn’t all that in the mood for it afterwards, I had made enough of a dent that I wanted to keep going. The writing is very much the style I come to expect from Holly Black at this point – both easy to fall into but also full of imaginative prose.
I liked the plotline well enough – it was dark and crude, sometimes seemingly almost too much and sometimes just right. It being a vampire novel, I was easily brought back to my memories of reading Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, but I loved how Black brought vampirism into a modern light – one where it is a commonly known thing and one to be desired by people who crave immortality or endless death.
The characters were complex – twisted and human, facing the possibility of forever as monsters or inevitable death as humans. And while I appreciated them for their complexity, I just don’t think I ever felt a real connection to any of them. I felt distanced from Tana and the others, and I think ultimately that is what made me not as interested in this book as I could have been. As I said it was an interesting plotline, but for a lot of it I felt like I was trudging through it and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t feel much sympathy for the characters and also I just was not in the right mood for it.
I don’t know if this would have been better if I had read it at a different time in a different mood, or if I will never really connect with it fully. I can appreciate the style of writing and the complexity of the world and characters, but I just currently don’t feel like this is one of those books I will be raving about. I will still probably recommend it if it seems like something someone else might enjoy, but I just don’t think this one was for me.