Monday, June 9, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Holly Black
Little Brown, 2013 419 pgs
Grades 9-Up

Tana wakes up from a party to find all of her friends slaughtered during the night by vampires.  The lone survivor is her ex-boyfriend, Aiden, and a boy she doesn't recognize.  The new boy turns out to be Gavriel, a mature vampire who is on the run.  The three escape and head for the nearest "Coldtown" where vampires are sent to live.  There has been a vampire epidemic.  Once people are bitten by vampires they must be vanquished to a coldtown, where they either drink human blood and turn to full-fledged vampires or suffer through the next three months until the vampire infection leaves their body.  Aiden is infected, Tana is not so sure.  Along the way to Coldtown they pick up two teenagers, Midnight and Winter, who are anxious to get into Coldtown and turn into vampires.  Eventual the travelers arrive at their destination.  Coldtown is not as glamerous and the constant internet feeds lead the public to believe.  It is gritty and dangerous.  Soon after arriving Aiden and Midnight become full-fledged vampires and Winter meets a tragic end.  Tana encounters the head vampire of Coldtown, Lucien, who has an anceint score to settle with Gavriel.  Tana, having not been initially infected, strives to stay clear of vampire bites, all while saving her younger sister who follows her to Coldtown, saving friends from danger, battling evil vampires and developing a love connection with Gavriel.  The inevitable happens and Tana gets bitten, but will she try to resist the infection or join her new love in eternity?

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is veteran fantasy novelist's Holly Black's contribution to the vampire genre.  The book is fast paced, edgy, and fresh, despite the recent gluttony of teen vampire novels.  Tana is more Tris than Bella and the reader cannot help but applaud her courage, determination and willpower.  Black makes subtle statements about the deception of social media and its power, as well as choices young people make that seem cool but are actually stupid and dangerous.  Anyone would like this book, male or female.  Black, who is comfortable writing high-fantasy, provides a believable fantasy in a realistic setting that would appeal to readers who aren't big fans of the genre.  The book is long, yet reads fast.  The plot is brisk and offers twists and turns along the way.  Key characters are killed off without fanfare, which causes the reader to hold their breath waiting to see who's next.  Protecting the younger sister feels a little "Hunger Games", but with teen readers a younger sibling would be the most precious connection, the the connection is forgivable.  A sequel is hinted at and we are led to believe that Tana and Gavriel will ban together to stop the spread of new vampires.  A  lot of fun and worth the time invested.  A perfect beach book for those who like their romance with a twist of supernatural gore.

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