Sunday, 31 August 2014

Review || The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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.

This is going to be a difficult review to write. I always seem to struggle with the books that I enjoyed.

While I liked Black's White Cat well enough when I read it last year, Coldtown is heads and shoulders above that. I really enjoyed this book. It was dark, twisted and full of compelling characters and mythology.

The set up here, for those of you who somehow don't know what this book is about already, is vampires. A fairly standard vampire mythos is accompanied by some really interesting world history. Vampires are publicly recognized--albeit as monsters. But also, in some cases, as a very twisted form of celebrity. It's not too unbelievable, given our modern penchant for reality TV.

Combine that with some really complex and diverse characters, and you have Coldtown in a very simplified nutshell.

I am very much a character person when it comes to books. Give me depth and complexity. The characters here are so beautifully flawed. They are fully of shades of grey. They have their own complicated histories. It was really fantastic. I really loved Tana as a narrator, for no reason that I can eloquently express. I just clicked with her as a character, despite us being very different.

One of the things I've seen this book praised for is its inclusion of a transgender character. Which, truthfully, brought it higher up my reading priority list than it had been before. I'm going to quibble a bit, since said character was a secondary character and did not feature as much as I would've liked. She still got a really cute side love story, which made me really happy.

Still, despite all my praise, this was not a 5 star book for me. I can't really pin down what it was about this book that made it 4 instead of 5 stars. I just never really got that "5 star" feeling, if you know what I mean. Never had that smack my hand against the cover slash want to throw the book across the room it was so good feeling.

Regardless. Highly enjoyable and definitely recommended--especially if you're looking for something new to try in the vampire realm.