Coldest Girl in Cold TownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Format: Library Hardback

Reviewed by: Judith

Genre: YA Vampire

Final Score: 8/10

Judith’s thought process when picking out a book: “oooh, great cover! Sold! Wait…now, what? It’s about what?” A lot of times that awesome cover grabs me and sucks me in and then I’m stuck with a dud. Luckily that didn’t happen here! Look at that cover! It’s freaking-fan-tastic! And score! I was only just mildly confused and pleasantly surprised by this unique brand of vampires…

Plot: When Tana wakes up hungover and alone in the bathtub of a friend’s house, she knows that her day isn’t going to end well. When she then discovers that all of her friends have been murdered by vampires with the exception of her ex, Aiden, her life goes straight to hell. Now Tana must set out on a mad

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flight to deliver Aiden to the nearest Coldtown, an enclave for vampires and those infected by vampirism that are walled off from the rest of the world for human protection. Her only companions are Aiden, bitten and beginning to violently crave blood, the young vampire Gavriel who has his own reasons for heading to Coldtown, and a pair of young goth kids who want to immortalize their own transformation into creatures of the night on the web. Once Tana makes it to Coldtown she’s got to figure out not only how to keep Aiden from turning into a vampire but more importantly, how to get out again without becoming one herself.

Review: Have you ever read a book that confuses you to no end? The mythology is a head scratcher and the plot is so simple you can’t understand how the author could stretch out the story for so many pages? And yet, you still find yourself captivated and a little breathless wondering what’s going to happen to the teenage heroine who wants to stay out of harm’s way and yet keeps putting herself purposely in danger? Well, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown reads just like that. It’s like some blood and glitter-filled carnival with a ferocious heroine, a whole lot of gorgeously written scenes juxtaposed with true horror and gore, and a sexy smoldering vampire who likes to spout crazy nonsense on an hourly basis. The whole story could have been condensed into half of what it is yet the writing truly is magical so even though what you’re reading feels useless to the story, it doesn’t matter cause you get to learn about this cool new world. One reader summed it up best: “I liked the beginning and I liked the end. The middle however I could have done without”.

My one big problem with this book is that the story was overly long and as a result, the mythology of vampires is very hard to piece together. It also requires a lot of seemingly useless vignettes from Tana’s life to fully explain how it functions. Maybe I just lack patience but it felt like pulling teeth to understand this breed of vampire. I had to work hard to understand the backstory of vampirism and cobble together these tidbits of information we learn from Tana’s past. Frankly, I don’t want to work to understand vampires or at least not as hard as I had to in this one. Just lay it all on me up front and hope for the best because in my mind, vampires should be self-explanatory. With that said, the plot is interesting if not predictable though there is a pretty big twist at the end that will make you smile and give you an a-ha! moment of your own. The heroine is gutsy and selfless, the hero sexy and tortured, and all the secondary characters are flushed out beautifully. There’s a lot of action and some thrilling scenes involving vampire lords plus the descriptions of Coldtown are fantastic and other-worldly making you wish you could come along for a visit (as long as it was day light and all the vamps were in their coffins).

The very end will have you scratching your head again as you’re left to imagine what exactly will come out of Tana’s choice to remain human and how she’ll get out of Coldtown now that she’s stuck there. But all in all, this sort of magical story-telling will captivate you and not let go. I give it 8/10.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 10. Tana is great! She’s a typical teenager with a troubled childhood who starts out seeming like a dumb teen. Over the course of the book, her true resilient nature shines through and we’re given a heroine who is compassionate, loyal, and loving while also being kick-ass! She battles humans and vampires alike for what she believes is right.

How much did I like the love interest: 10. Gavriel is supposed to be one crazy vampire, at least that’s what everyone keeps saying and yet he reads like a sad and tortured soul who just needs somebody to love him. Luckily Tana is there to care for him and protect him because his main role in the story is to be hurt…a lot.

How believable is the plot: 8. It’s a book about vampires overrunning the USA…you suspend your disbelief for this one and just jump on for a good ride. However watch out for the tricky vampire lore cause it is confusing!

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Holly Black is one fine author. Her words flow effortlessly and beautifully and there’s this sense of magic and mystery that hangs over every page. Her style reminded a lot of Francesca Lia Block at first but was definitely more lucid and straightforward than Ms Block ever could be. This story has a definite plot it follows though it is a bit convoluted to get there.

How much did I want to keep reading: 7. I was entertained and invested in knowing what happened to the characters but I wasn’t so engrossed that I couldn’t put the book down. Which I did, several times over the course of a week.

Final Score: 8/10. Good writing, strong female lead, sexy hero, and vampires. Get it for the beautiful scenes of life in a vampire town but not for intricate plotting or understandable mythology.

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