New WKAR Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Current StateIn this installment of WKAR’s Current State, I review the new book by famed YA author Holly Black. It is entitled The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

You can listen to my review on WKAR’s site here (http://wkar.org/post/book-review-holly-blacks-coldest-girl-coldtown). You can also read the script of the review below, after the jump.

Holly Black also was interviewed on Current State about the book and her successful career in young adult fantasy. You can hear her interview via this link.

You can find Holly Black’s new book on Amazon.com here. I hope you enjoy my new book review.

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Holly Black's LatestI have never understood the whole vampire thing (and that’s apart from my personal distaste of them). If an alien was to rocket past our planet and spy just a fraction of our entertainment, they would think we were taken over by the undead.  They are everywhere—books, TV, movies—you can’t escape them and it seems a lot of us wouldn’t want to anyway.

In Holly Black’s latest young adult novel The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the author has entered the fray with her own sharpened fangs ready. Being a story of vampires filled with teenagers, and very old vampires that look like teenagers, the book’s unable to avoid the comparison with Twilight. Luckily, Black manages to get through that unfortunate comparison unscathed, creating a work far superior to that surprisingly popular series.

One of the reasons The Coldest Girl is so much better than Twilight lies in the main character of Tana. While Bella’s life in Twilight seems only to revolve around winning the heart of her vampire, even going so far as to attempt suicide to catch his attention, that is not the case of Tana. She is strong, independent, and doesn’t change for anyone else, nor does she want to. This seems to make her the only lead in a vampire tale that doesn’t want to join the immortals. Good for her.

If I had to point to an influence for this novel, I would first gravitate towards Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, especially the earlier books where you had the clash of the old and the new vampires. The vampires in this tale, like in Rice’s books, have names just made for being mysterious and gothic; for example, Lucien. Elizabet, and Gavriel. And, also like Rice, some of them dare to even enjoy being vampires; where Rice’s Lestat became a rock star, Black’s Lucien is the host of a television show, a broadcast of a non-stop party in the heart of a coldtown.

The only problem I had with this book is I don’t understand its categorization as a young adult novel beyond the abundance of teenagers in it. Consider that the book begins with Tana waking up in a bathtub with a hangover the morning after a wild party, only to discover she is the only survivor of a massacre.  We read as she steps carefully over the corpses of friend after friend, until finally discovering her ex-boyfriend tied to a bed, with puncture marks and a vampire in chains next to him.

This book is filled with violent imagery like this, with bodies always about to be stabbed or bitten into. No one is safe. The only thing this book doesn’t have is nudity and swearing. Which is odd because if I was Tana I would have been swearing a lot during this adventure. So is that the line we draw in the sand these days for young adult literature? Really, swearing is that big a deal?

Whatever the case, I walked away thinking how tame Harry Potter and Narnia are in comparison. Yes, I think Aslan would have been shocked by this book. Dumbledore’s death has nothing on the physical destruction in these pages. A parent might want to check this book out first before deciding to hand it to their younger readers.

In this reality, vampires are part of the society and have been quarantined into areas called coldtowns. While some would consider them prisons to be avoided, many of the young find them as hypnotic as TV shows and the news regularly broadcasts the happenings inside the walls. Over the course of the novel we follow Tana, the vampire Gavriel and her ex-boyfriend as they make the trip to a coldtown. When they finally arrive, Tana falls into the middle of a vampire civil war where it is not clear to her—or to us, the readers—who the good guys are or if there are any good guys. And while at the end we are uncertain of Tana’s fate, it doesn’t beg for a sequel.  That’s a nice change in young adult literature and one I applaud.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a book for late evenings filled with shadows and thunderstorms in the distance. Perfect as we get closer to October. And while it won’t surprise on every page, it will still make you jump from time to time.

Oh, and why do I dislike vampires so much? Well… they drink blood and that is just gross.

A Jane Austen DaydreamIf you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen DaydreamMaximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous DareMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

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