Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Series: Standalone
Published: September 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
419 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult paranormal
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
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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.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown starts off strong. It’s gruesome and horrifying, and it draws you in, making you wonder what’s happening, while also fearing for the main character’s life. But then…I don’t want to say this book was boring, because that’s not the case. It was, however, very slow and I felt at times like I was slogging through it. I started it a few days before Halloween, thinking it would be the perfect creepy (and hopefully quick) read for my favourite holiday, but it took me over a week to get through it.

If I was able to rate on concept alone, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown could get five stars. It's something I've never seen before - when a person is bitten by a vampire, they become Cold. From there, they can bite someone else, die, and be reborn a vampire, or they can go into quarantine (usually self-imposed and unsuccessful) for eighty-eight days, and as long as they don’t drink blood they’ll be okay. Vampires and people who are infected are supposed to go to Coldtowns to keep from spreading vampirism. But it’s not just vampires and people who have been bitten who popular Coldtowns - people who want to be bitten or want that lifestyle can voluntarily go into Coldtowns.

Great concept, right? And I think Black executed it well, but there was an uneven mix of action and then just basically waiting for stuff to happen. I also didn’t really feel myself connecting to any of the characters. I liked Tana, but I didn’t feel much for her. I felt really meh toward Gavriel at first, but then I slowly became intrigued, especially when we started getting scenes from his history - how and when he became a vampire, his dealings with his maker, who later became a famous Coldtown vampire - those parts I found fascinating and engaging. Gavriel was hard to read, but I liked his unpredictability and felt it worked well.

I wanted to love this book, and I wish I could say I did, but there were just too many parts that fell flat for me. I loved the action, the fact that Black wasn’t afraid to shy away from gore and horror and disturbing scenes (which I learned when I read Tithe a few years ago), and a lot of other little things, but there was just something lacking that prevented me from loving it. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who love The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - in fact, I hope there are. I just wish I were one of them.  

Have you read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? What did you think? If you haven't read it, does it sound like something you'd be interested in? Have you read any of Holly Black's other books?


  1. I tried to read this but couldn't get into it. I stopped around a hundred pages in, but I do hope to try this again in the future!

    - Christie @ Read by the Undead

  2. Thank you for this review. I appreciate your thoughts. I really like Holly Black, but just haven't gotten to this one yet. I do like Horror and gore, so maybe that will make up for the lack of action. I'm curious now as to how I will like it.

  3. Nooooooooooooo. I almost ALMOST bought this one awhile back. I definitely still want to read it because I've read some great reviews, but I probably won't buy it. I hate that you couldn't connect with the characters, and that you were just basically waiting for anything to happen. :(

  4. I really liked the classic, horror take Holly used with the vampires in the story. I totally agree with you that some parts you had to push through though. Great review Marie and thanks for sharing :)


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