“The coldest girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black


artemisiconSince we are in the middle of moving, all our books are packed away, so I’m reliant on the books people have let me borrow. This book was one of them. Last time I went to visit our friends, she loaded me down with a huge stack of books. Literally my night-table and reading shelf are loaded with her books. The other books she gave me are part of different series, so I wanted to start this one because it was the only one I had.

I’ve never read Holly black, but through working in the book store, I know OF her. I never had any ambition to pick up her stuff, which is what’s nice about having friends who read completely different authors and genres than you do. I knew nothing about this book, I wouldn’t even read the synopsis of it. I wanted to go in completely blind. Knowing my friend, I knew the book should have had some kind of supernatural twist, but I wasn’t 100% sure.

That leads me to the actual book …which starts out with an absolute bang as our main character Tana wakes up hung-over in a bathtub. Typical teen party story, but when she went out into the house and found everyone dead, that’s when I was hooked. In this story vampires are a thing, and to stay alive, when the sun goes down people lock themselves in. But at the party someone had accidentally left a window open. As Tana tries to get out of the locked-down house she remembers another similar crime where after murdering everyone, the vampires laid with the corpses to await the following night. This created an awesome sense of panic because Tana was alone in a house of dead people, which could also potentially contain the creatures that killed them all. After finding a boy still alive (and infected) she hears a door deep in the house open. Then it was a race to save herself, the boy, and another vampire left chained up in the corner of the room.

The thing about this book was I could look past the obvious stereotypical teen writing, and actually enjoy the over-all story. It was blatantly obvious that Tana would fall for the teenage vampire boy who was only ever described with attractive pronouns and some kind of jewels for eyes. Even though the romance made no sense, I could look past it because it wasn’t detrimental to the plot. It was just there. Even the love triangle I was expecting wasn’t really there.

What kept me hooked in the story was the lore. A vampire, essentially on a bender, infected hundreds of people, and they in turn infected thousands. The virus spread so quickly it started showing up over seas. The virus only turns into vampirism if the person drinks human blood, if they manage to fight through the “Cold” they can sweat it out in 88 days. Because of human rights, instead of killing off everyone, they quarantined towns with the biggest vampire break outs and called them “Coldtowns”. Vampires became internet stars by showing live feeds from inside Coldtown and their eternal parties. At the same time, Vampire Bounty Hunter shows started playing on regular TV of people hunting the vampires that are outside of Coldtown and murdering innocents.

I’ve read a lot of vampire books throughout my life and they all have a different take on what would happen if vampires were real. This idea I really like. With everything that has happened through history (and sadly, today) the mass reaction to fear seems to be a concentration camp; to lock away what scares them.

People who even THINK they could be infected are asked to sign themselves into the Coldtowns, and if they are not infected, they can hire a bounty hunter to bring in a Vampire to trade for a Marker to let the human out. Humans can also sign themselves in if they want, because some people become so obsessed with the Vampire lifestyle that they want to turn away from their normal lives.

The plot, the lore, and even the main character are all super interesting and well done, if you can look past some typical teen writing, it’s actually a relatively good book. It’s an easy read, very quick, but even the way she writes is interesting. The chapters alternate through the characters to reveal more of their history and the history of their world. If you’re a YA reader, and enjoy vampire stories, this is definitely a good one.

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