Published by Little Brown on September 3, 2013
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.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
While I enjoyed this book overall, I couldn’t escape the gnawing feeling that there was something missing here for me. Were my expectations too high? Maybe. Perhaps it was unfair to read this so soon after I finished the very excellent Eternity Cure.
The premise here is exciting and original. I was positively shaking in terror throughout the first chapter. Unfortunately, that was the only real sense of danger I felt throughout the rest of the reading experience. There were some tense moments, sure, but I never felt as completely drawn into the world as I did in that first chapter. The pacing is easily the weakest part of Coldtown. It felt like nothing of real consequence or importance happened throughout the entire middle portion. If this were a shorter book, or more tightly plotted, it would have been more effective and enjoyable. Still, there are enough moments of atmospheric and delicious creepiness that shine through. Oh, and snark. Can’t forget the snark.
Mainly told in third person limited from Tana’s POV, there are also occasional switches to other perspectives, some even to the past that serve to flesh out the characters’ backstories. While informative and important, I often felt frustrated as I just wanted to get back to Tana’s situation.
I did enjoy the characters, even though I didn’t have as much of a connection with Tana as I would’ve preferred. That was definitely one of the “missing” things, I think. I’m not sure if it was the third person limited narrative or not (I tend to prefer first person), but the strong emotional connection just didn’t forge. However, I did find her to be courageous and capable. I thought Gavriel (the “mysterious boy” from the summary) was intriguing and appealing without being too broody. He’s also not the typical “I hate being a monster” nice guy vampire we often find in these sorts of stories. For me, he struck the right balance of being one of the “good guys”, but very much still a cold, dead vampire. It was refreshing.
The secondary characters were all delightful (except for the ones who clearly are not supposed to be). I did find the roguish Aidan to be “exasperatingly endearing” just like the blurb promises. I was also easily fond of Tana’s human friends in Coldtown, Jameson and Valentina. Can I tell you how much I love the fact that Valentina is a transwoman? I am always thrilled with trans* representation in YA. It was really wonderful to see.
The blurb might cause you to worry about a love triangle, but rest assured that is not the case. There’s hardly any romance at all. Much less than I prefer. However, what we did get was hot. Moar please!! See, my friends? I told you. I always want more romance. Especially sexy, sexy vampire romance.
The ending is pretty satisfying as a standalone, but I’d be happy to read more about Tana’s adventures in Coldtown should there be a sequel. I really did care about Tana and her fate, despite the dragging middle parts. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and one that I’d recommend to fans of vampires and urban fantasy, and especially those who don’t want a lot of romance.
If you’d like to find out for yourself whether this book lives up to the hype, we have a copy to give away thanks to our friends at Little Brown! Just leave a comment below and fill out the Rafflecopter form.
Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Please see the contest form for complete rules. Good luck!
A finished copy was provided by the publisher for this giveaway.