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Friday, August 16, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


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. (Summary from Goodreads.com)



Disclaimer: ARC received for review at BEA


Review: Holly Black’s latest novel is an entertaining addition to the vampire novel genre with a compelling heroine and, while not a subversion of tropes, displays the horror of vampires beyond the romantic idealization that is the norm these days. It owes a debt to vampire novels that have come before but adds many interesting elements to vampire lore to not be dismissed as simply derivative. There’s a tall dark and handsome vampire love interest with an angst-filled back story and the villain is melodramatic, but the interesting part is the Coldtown itself and the way its citizens make use of social media and televised live feeds to glamorize undeath and lure in lonely teens to feed upon.
            
          The main character, Tana, is interesting: defined by the trauma of her mother succumbing to vampire infection, her ambivalence towards turning “cold” and her risk taking behaviors make psychological sense; there are reasons why she is drawn to someone who is clearly dangerous (unlike another heroine *insert obligatory Twilight reference). She has agency and it is her struggle to survive with her humanity intact that drives the plot. Gavriel the vampire is not afforded the same level of depth but he too has his reasons for an interest in a teenager and his personality made for an entertaining character. The chemistry he has with Tana is sizzling. His backstory with the villain Lestat- excuse me I mean Lucien, was too Anne Rice-like to be interesting to someone who has read the Vampire Chronicles. Luckily it’s only a couple of chapters: this is Tana’s story.
            
         As far as supporting characters go the standouts are Tana’s self-centered ex boyfriend Aiden; Midnight and Winter, two bloggers lured to Coldtown by the promise of a new exciting existence; Tana’s little sister Pearl; and Valentina, a trans woman working in the Coldtown thrift shop. Lucien the aforementioned Big Bad is amusing in a campy way. He makes statements like: “Some sicknesses are worse than their cure” and “Every hero is the villain of their own story” to demonstrate he is profoundly full of nonsense.
            
         The inclusion of the blogger characters and the way the vampires capitalize on the Coldtown with various reality TV shows (or “Eternal Balls”) is an interesting idea and makes this the timely vampire novel for Millennials. The way people, particularly dissatisfied teens, are drawn in to horrors they are not prepared for via social media makes for chilling drama and world building. The details of the vampire infection and detox period adds dimension. Though the prose occasionally skids into purple territory and some plot beats are familiar, overall The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a worthwhile and entertaining read that I would recommend to any vampire fan.

4.5 blogging vampire wannabes.

0 comments:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


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. (Summary from Goodreads.com)



Disclaimer: ARC received for review at BEA


Review: Holly Black’s latest novel is an entertaining addition to the vampire novel genre with a compelling heroine and, while not a subversion of tropes, displays the horror of vampires beyond the romantic idealization that is the norm these days. It owes a debt to vampire novels that have come before but adds many interesting elements to vampire lore to not be dismissed as simply derivative. There’s a tall dark and handsome vampire love interest with an angst-filled back story and the villain is melodramatic, but the interesting part is the Coldtown itself and the way its citizens make use of social media and televised live feeds to glamorize undeath and lure in lonely teens to feed upon.
            
          The main character, Tana, is interesting: defined by the trauma of her mother succumbing to vampire infection, her ambivalence towards turning “cold” and her risk taking behaviors make psychological sense; there are reasons why she is drawn to someone who is clearly dangerous (unlike another heroine *insert obligatory Twilight reference). She has agency and it is her struggle to survive with her humanity intact that drives the plot. Gavriel the vampire is not afforded the same level of depth but he too has his reasons for an interest in a teenager and his personality made for an entertaining character. The chemistry he has with Tana is sizzling. His backstory with the villain Lestat- excuse me I mean Lucien, was too Anne Rice-like to be interesting to someone who has read the Vampire Chronicles. Luckily it’s only a couple of chapters: this is Tana’s story.
            
         As far as supporting characters go the standouts are Tana’s self-centered ex boyfriend Aiden; Midnight and Winter, two bloggers lured to Coldtown by the promise of a new exciting existence; Tana’s little sister Pearl; and Valentina, a trans woman working in the Coldtown thrift shop. Lucien the aforementioned Big Bad is amusing in a campy way. He makes statements like: “Some sicknesses are worse than their cure” and “Every hero is the villain of their own story” to demonstrate he is profoundly full of nonsense.
            
         The inclusion of the blogger characters and the way the vampires capitalize on the Coldtown with various reality TV shows (or “Eternal Balls”) is an interesting idea and makes this the timely vampire novel for Millennials. The way people, particularly dissatisfied teens, are drawn in to horrors they are not prepared for via social media makes for chilling drama and world building. The details of the vampire infection and detox period adds dimension. Though the prose occasionally skids into purple territory and some plot beats are familiar, overall The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a worthwhile and entertaining read that I would recommend to any vampire fan.

4.5 blogging vampire wannabes.

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