June 20, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Maybe it was that nearly everyone else was dead and she felt a little bit dead, too, but she figured that even a vampire deserved to be saved. Maybe she ought to leave him, but she wasn't going to.

-from The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

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In Holly Black's novel The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, vampires no longer live in the shadows, but are quarantined to live in Coldtowns. Humans are also allowed to live in a Coldtown if they choose, but once someone goes into a Coldtown, they can never leave. Tana wakes up at a house party to find that nearly everyone has been massacred by vampires and the only ones left living are her ex-boyfriend, Aiden, and a surprisingly cooperative vampire, Gavriel (if you would consider him living). Tana makes it her mission to deliver Gavriel to the nearest Coldtown along with Aiden who is now infected. The only problem: Tana must survive the journey and try to keep Aiden alive in the process. 

There are so many great things about this book and so many things that made it a pain to get through. I felt like the overall idea and the actual characters were great; unfortunately it just wasn't very well executed for a variety of reasons. For one, this book should have been either split up into two (despite it already being a series, I think) or crafted differently. The movement of the plot is stalled continuously by flashbacks about Tana's and Gavriel's respective pasts and it ruined all of the momentum every single time. While Gavriel's past was a little bit more interesting (and probably deserved it's own novella or something), I did not care about Tana's history so much. I got the point that her mom died and she had a lot of emotions, but I didn't need to revisit it over and over. If this story didn't waver between past and present tense so much, I might have loved it. 

Additionally, the time invested in so many characters made for too many subplots of emotion which also slowed the main story. I think the secondary characters are all great, but there were too many end games that muddled the climax. While I felt this story had direction and it wasn't aimless, there was just too much going on at the end to feel fulfilled by any resolutions. I felt like Tana was trying to solve everyone's problems when I just wanted her to solve her own and go home. While I think Tana is supposed to come off as selfless (which she is), she mostly came off to me as just plain stupid. 

All that said, I still found the overall arc and characters to be very enjoyable. The writing was strong and this was by far the least obnoxious vampire/human story I have ever read (which is a huge compliment considering how much vampires seem to mean little to no credibility these days!). Despite the story being slowed by flashbacks, I still wanted to know what the inside of a Coldtown is like and then the inside of Moreau's glamorous parties. Piquing the reader's curiosity is something I think Black does very well.

I was also fascinated by the death quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I felt like it helped Black focus the reader on the idea that this is a story about death, not the glamor of vampires and how great Coldtowns sound to the general public. It also helped me pay attention to how each character feels about death and/or the possibility of immortality. I'm not sure if these strong points are enough to encourage me to read the sequel, but it might make this one of your favorites!

Bottom Line: If you love vampire stories, definitely give this a read! Just beware of changing tenses that substantially slow down the story. 3.5/5 stars.

4 comments:

  1. gee,,,
    the title sounds so corny - haha. i do love vampire stories, but is it anything like twilight series the books?

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  2. lovely blog :)
    http://saltskinned.blogspot.com.au

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  3. I'm glad you liked it overall! I didn't know what it was about other than vampires but the premise sounds really interesting! The muddled climax and Tana's backstory sound tiring, but the rest of the story and the death quotes sound compelling. I am more interested in this one that I was before I read your review, so thank you!

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  4. I always enjoy reading vampire books and while it sounds a bit slow, I think I will like the overall story. I've read a short story about this in her anthology and I was hooked by her writing-style, so I hope that is the case for this book too :)

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

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