Monday, June 08, 2015

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Title: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Published: September 3, 2013 by Little, Brown Books
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased at
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.

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ 

(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)

Fantasy + Modern World = My Ultimate Weakness. I truly like how the merging of the two genres in one book is not the Twilight kind of vampires in the modern world, where the 20th century sort of outweighs the fantasy. It's different from it actually, Black's novel. It is set in the modern world, but it also has a leveled balance with the fantasy world. It is a perfect 50/50 of both. While reading The Coldest Girl In Coldtown, I have a terrible tendency of forgetting that Black's book is set in the contemporary world, so every time social media like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr is mentioned, it puts a smile to my face because of how much the effortlessly "delicious combination" of the two worlds amazes me in this book.

For some unknown reason, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown reminds me of the movie Hotel Transylvania. And since the book reminds me of a children's movie, it appeals to me more as a full-on fantasy tale—in the beginning, at least. But as the book progresses, and I find myself getting deeper and deeper into the story, it suddenly turns into something more—something horrifying and menacing and bloody and gory and just overall gruesome. The amount of blood included in the book doesn't obscure what vampires are capable of doing. It even foregrounds their strength and the sum of power they hold in their cold, dead hands.

Romance is inevitable. In order to spice up a book, an author has to have some sort of romantic element going on between two of her characters (or even three). What I really admire about the romance in Black's novel is that it is not overpowering everything. It doesn't take up the entire book. The synopsis may have hinted something about Tana and Gavriel, and Black has undoubtedly dropped a couple of hints here and there within the chapters, but I like how Tana and Gavriel's feelings for one another developed inconspicuously. I like it because it is not "too in your face," so to speak. It gives you the feeling of wanting to read more scenes that include Tana and Gavriel; it makes you want to root for them, but at the same time, you're uncertain of what's really going on between the two, or if anything's even going to happen to their relationship, really. It is the precariousness that keeps me on my toes whenever I read Tana's thoughts about Gavriel and vice versa.

Another thing that I really like about this book is how the chapters jump between the present time and a character's backstory. I like it when I finish reading a chapter about what's currently happening, the next one is about Gavriel's past, or Tana's background, or whatever. It gives more insight about how this character connects to this one, or to that one. It provides the novel more depth and more thrill. What I also like about the jumping chapters is that it yields me the perception of being "on the edge." So to say, there are mini cliffhangers in every chapter and that really makes me want to keep turning the pages to find out more, to unravel more secrets, to entangle more knots in the story.

Okay. This is, hands down, the best thing about the entire book: Sexual orientation. This book is astonishingly diversified! I truly praise Black for acknowledging the different orientations, whether it be straight, bisexual, transgendered, she addresses them. It amazes me (and I cannot stress that enough) especially that The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is a young adult novel, which targets mostly juvenile readers—our generation, who, by the way, is currently big on topics like sexual orientations. This, Black's salute to the different preferences, only shows that she knows and respects and supports what this generation has become—what this generation is really about. She has managed to make her contemporary book realistically modern because of this.

On the contrary, the only thing that I don't like about the book is Pearl, Tana's younger sister. Let me get this straight. I get that she's the one who gets to take Tana's marker after all—a reason to finally get rid of the small token—but she comes off to me as some sort of minor addition, especially by the end of the book. Others may see and/or understand her importance, and the author obviously has a reason as to why Pearl has abruptly been a big matter by the end of the book; however, personally, it seems to me that Black created Pearl's character, but forgotten how to really fully incorporate her in the story.

In terms of recommending the book, I will actually suggest this one. It's really graphic with lots and lots and lots of blood and killing involved (which I surprisingly enjoyed), but it's refreshing in an unearthly way. With this being the first Holly Black book I have ever read, I really relished her sublime writing and creativity; I can also candidly say that she has altered my perspective about vampire books. Because in a world where violence by lethal weapons is common, what's so wrong with reading a novel about a planet where vampires, who kills people by sucking their neck and draining them of their blood, are the main cause of cruelty?

It's kind of stimulating, don't you think?

✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ 


Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books or kids and teens. She was a finalist for the Mythopeic Award, a finalist for an Eisner Award, and a recipient of the Andre Norton Award. She currently lives in New England with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret door.

✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ 

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