Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading … The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just Finished Reading … The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
by Holly Black
To be published on September 3, 2013
by Little, Brown BFYR

Source: Thanks to Little, Brown BFYR for allowing me to read an e-ARC of this book. My full FTC disclosure is on the right sidebar.



Summary from Goodreads: 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. The only problem is, 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.

My take: I am by no means an expert on either vampire lore or vampire fiction.  In fact, my entire pop culture vampire experience consists of reading the Twilight series years ago, plus one summer spent watching every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

But I am a big fan of the Curse Worker series, which ranks among my favorite YA series of all time. So I was both excited and nervous to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Fortunately, I really liked it.

As the blurb suggests, the story starts dramatically, with main character Tana waking up the morning after a party in a house full of dead bodies.  Soon she's on the run with her vamp-infected ex-boyfriend with a live vampire stuffed in her trunk.

I love Cassel Sharpe's wry first-person narration, so it took me a few pages to adjust to Tana's matter-of-fact third person point of view, but the more I got to knowTana, the more I liked her. She's not the kind of girl who thinks about what's in her own best interest. She does what she thinks is right. And when someone needs help, whether it's her ex-boyfriend or a stranger, she doesn't hesitate.

I also really loved the story world, which seemed to me to use vampirism as a way to explore modern day obsessions with fame, notoriety, and physical perfection, and to gently mock the way these obsessions are fueled by our social media and reality TV-obsessed world. Yes, other vampire series like Buffy have incorporated the concept of vampire groupies, but The Coldest Girl in Coldtown makes this concept even more 21st century. Those outside the Coldtowns watch the vampires inside on live feeds. Bloggers breathlessly chronicle the goings-on inside the guarded cities. Vampire celebrities entertain viewers and camera crews ride shotgun with vampire hunters.  Everyday teens dream of finding fame and escaping their humdrum lives by joining the vampire world.

Tana, who survived a real-life childhood encounter with a vampire, has more complicated feelings about vampires. Yet when vampire Gavriel needs to be rescued, she risks her own life to help him.

Heather from The Flyleaf Review reminded me in a tweet that Holly Black also wrote a bunch of fairy stories. I haven't read those, but I was thinking about this as I read and decided that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown definitely has some fairytale elements. Tana's rescue of Gavriel felt a little like one of those moments in a fairy tale when a character helps, say, a prince disguised as a beggar, and is later handsomely rewarded. Indeed, Tana's impulsive gesture will have repercussions that extend through the entire story. Later in the book, Gavriel actually tells Tana a fairytale, the story of Koschei the Deathless.  Gavriel says of the main character, Ivan:  "he manages to do the impossible purely by not giving up. He is the chaotic part of the story, because he doesn't do what everyone expects of him."

A Coldtown isn't much of a fairy tale kingdom, but Tana also never does what you'd expect. She never gives up, and never does what any sensible person would do. She's an interesting hero -- a regular girl who refuses to give up on anyone -- not the guy who dumped her, not the vampire who could infect her, not the best friend she promised a trip to California after graduation.

I really loved the ending of the book. There's revenge, there's sacrifice, and, just like a fairy story, what goes around comes around. Then the world settles into a sort of moral equilibrium -- yes, even a crazy, mixed up world like a Coldtown. So while I really can't comment on where this book fits into the whole vampire subgenre, I can tell you that I really enjoyed it as a story.

I'll be giving away an ARC of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown tomorrow on Freebie Friday!  Be sure to stop by :)

44 comments:

  1. I hadn't originally realized this was a vampire story until I started seeing reviews mentioning that. Though I don't tend to be very interested in vampires, the way this one looks at modern life (instead of focusing on a romance) gives me hope that I'd like it too.

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    1. There is some romance in it, but to me it seemed the story was really about Tana. I hope you give it a try -- I'd be curious to see what you think!

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  2. Glad to see that you enjoyed the book. I got approved for it on Netgalley so I'm hoping I can dive into it soon. Great review.

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  3. Sounds very interesting. I love Cassel and Tana sounds very different, but I think I'll enjoy reading about her all the same. There also seems to be an original take on vampires which is always fun.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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  4. This sounds really good. I wouldn't have gotten alk that from the cover.

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    1. The cover is very cool and (I think) references an early scene in the book, but I agree, it doesn't reveal much!

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  5. I'm reading this one right now and loving it. Tana is just the best.

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    1. Glad you like her too! Her choices aren't always sensible, but I just loved her!

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    2. I just finished last night, and now I'm having trouble writing my review because you said it all so well! Although I have a quote I recently found that I think I'm going to use . . . it's just nice to see a book that explores morality, but in the end things turn out well for people who do the right thing, even at a risk to themselves.

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  6. Nice review! I haven't read anything by this author yet, and I know I really should. I'm curious about this one because I do love a good vampire story! Sounds unique.

    -Lauren from www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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  7. Wait. Did you forget you read The Vampire Academy series and then there are vampires in Cassandra Clare's books? Doesn't that count? ;)

    I haven't been quite sure about this one even though I liked the Curse Worker series too. I didn't exactly know what it was about. The blurb is intriguing, but doesn't say much. I actually like vampires. Although, I prefer the ones that aren't like those in The Hallowed Ones or The Immortal Rules. I can only handle so much gore. I'll definitely be picking it up now. :)

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

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    1. You're right -- I did read ALL the Vampire Academy books!! And I did read a few of the Mortal Instruments books.

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  8. Glad you enjoyed this! Your review is the first positive one I've found. I love vamps but actually didn't even know this was about them. I was thinking zombies or some other kind of infection/monster. I didn't realize there were cameras inside Coldtown and that there were groupies! LOL I just figured people were scared and that is why the vamps had to go in these weird towns. Sounds like a really interesting world.

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  9. Oh, I can't wait to read this book! I'm glad that you liked it because you know I have been curious (read: wary) about authors switching from one paranormal type to another. But as I said, if anyone can pull it off it would be Holly Black--she's such an incredible writer and her books always surprise me in some way, usually in a very GOOD way. I like this premise and I like what you said about it successfully incorporating fandom and other aspects that are such a prevalent part of the world today.

    Huzzah for Buffy AND Buffy marathons!

    And thanks for the mention, chica:)

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    1. I'm ready to watch Buffy all over again!!
      And yes, I love Holly's writing. I'll read whatever she writes. Even fairy books :)

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  10. I'm really excited about this book. At first, I wasn't interested in the book because I don't enjoy vampire stories. They are usually use the same tired tropes. However, I adore Holly Black's Curseworker series (which is really the best). That certainly amped up by excitement. The whole idea of being "vamp-infected" intrigues me.

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    1. Again, not a vamp expert but it did seem to me that she used a variation on the usual means of becoming a vampire -- one which added a lot of tension to the book. Hope you try it!

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  11. I've read both good and bad things about this book. Honestly, I don't think I'll be giving this book a chance but I'm happy you liked it :)

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  12. I'm glad you liked this one, Jen. I've seen both good and bad reviews of it, but I have a feeling I'll like it too.

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    1. I'm happy that I liked it, because I wasn't really sure how I'd feel..

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  13. Sounds awesome! I'd love to read this one. :)

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  14. This review makes me so happy! I've heard good and bad, but I want to really love it like you do. Do you know if this is part of a series, or a standalone? I love all of the elements that you mentioned here. That the book comments on our culture and evokes feeling of a fairytale, so I'm hoping this one works really well for me! We'll have to discuss when I'm done.

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    1. I assumed it was the first book in a series, but then I read somewhere that it was a standalone.
      Holly Black said when she sold the book that it would be a standalone:
      http://hollyblack.tumblr.com/post/11105108550/my-secret-secret-secret-project
      But hey, I'm not holding her to that. The ending is one of those resolution-with-room-for-more-story endings.

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  15. I've been reading good things about this one and really want to read it. I think I've read all her books except Doll Bones (is that what it's called?)and really love her style. I'm definitely going to read this one!

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    1. I've read Curse Workers and I read Spiderwick Chronicles with my kids. I'm not so into fairy books, so I never read the Tithe series….

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  16. I haven't read anything by Holly Black yet so this is going to be my first. I'm so excited about it, plus I haven't watched any Buffy shows, so I like that I'm not aware about the vampire groupies thing. Glad you loved it, Jen! Fantastic review!

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    1. Yeah, some reviewers were like "oh, vampire groupies have been done" but I though she put a new spin on it!

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  17. AHH I want this one so badly. Glad you loved it, hon!

    Fab review, Jen! <33

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  18. I am very excited about this book (and the two glowsticks that I picked up at BEA that go with the book but that I won't use because I'm saving them for some special occasion that will probably never occur). I still have to read Black's other books- and I will, promise- but I'm looking forward to reading this one sooner than later.

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    1. I can't find my glowsticks *cries* but I loved the book!
      Read the Curse Workers series, or better yet, start with the audiobook of White Cat. It's amazing!!!

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  19. Sounds like a great read! I have been eyeing this one for a while

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  20. Awesome review! Sounds like a great read.

    Andreea

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  21. I'm not the bigges Holly Black fan so I hadn't planned on reading this one, but after your review I think I might just change my mind!

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  22. Okay, so the gist of this review is, I'm going to miss Cassel and I should have remembered that this story involved vampires? Whoa. Glad I'm going the audio route. I have a galley, but after loving White Cat so much on audio, I couldn't say no when I saw it pop up for preorder on Audible. :P

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  23. Twilight and Buffy is all you need to be an expert on vampires... kidding. But Buffy is the best. And I loved this one. I especially love the fairy tale that you mention. Tana was so great and I really loved the story.

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  24. I'm kind of worried about reading this one. It sounds awesome but then I'm reading really mixed reviews. I'm just going to try to go in with no expectations wither way.

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  25. I love how you said it's taking vampires into the 21st century. I think I do need to check this one out!

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