Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black


You might remember us mentioning that we will be doing things differently this year. Instead of reading the same book, we will instead be reading the same genre for any given month.

This month, we are reading and reviewing fantasy.

Personally, I went with YA this time around and read "The Coldest Girl In Coldtown" by Holly Black. I haven't read anything by her since I was about 14, so I thought I'd give it a go.

Overall impression: it wasn't bad.

This is a vampire book, but it's really not your normal, every day vampires, which I thought was great. Vampires are so over done, they can get boring and cliche. As we all know. Black presents vampirism as more of a disease than anything else - really, it reminded me of zombies.

For example, if a victim if bitten by a vampire, he or she becomes infected. If they consume blood from a human, they turn into a vampire. If, however, they are kept from tasting the blood of a live human for 88 weeks, then they are cured and can return to their normal life. Black put another interested spin on the situation by creating these sort of hybrids if you will: an infected human who feeds from vampire blood. It doesn't turn therm into vampires, but it kills the craving for a while, and it makes them a little more than human. This isn't the first time I've read about this, and when I wrote my own vampire novel in my teens I used a similar scenario. But, you don't see it often, so I liked that.

As always, vampires were sexualized, but not in the normal way. In many vampire novels, such as "Twilight" being fed upon by a vampire is painful. Black, however, turned it into an almost erotic experience a la Ann Rice, especially if the human is simultaneously feeding on a vampire. (There is a very nice scene near the end of the book depicting just that, by the way.) Because all the vampires and infected people are required to live in segregated areas called "coldtowns", they really have to find a way to entertain themselves. In the coldtown the book takes place in, the entertainment is mainly partying, but amped up by lots of blood play, feeding, and desperate humans trying to seduce vampires into changing them. This scenario, when stated bluntly, had the potential to sound boring or over-hyped, but it wasn't presented that way. Black managed to make it seem like this would be an understandably desirable lifestyle.

Immortality and a never ending party with people offering their blood to you on a silver plate? Sure, why not.
Holly Black has the ability to write very beautifully. Sometimes this can be her downfall. Take the beginning, for example. What should be a rather fast paced, horrifying scene is over analyzed and over literaturized (this is YA, let's remember). I almost didn't want to go on.

The characters, unfortunately, fell rather flat. For example, our heroins ex boyfriend is the typical High School punk. He is presented wearing converse, a checkered belt, and a band shirt. He is also bisexual. How on trend. He is a really awful person, which makes him interesting, until he turns into a vampire and is suddenly a good and boring person. Tana is, for the most part, your typical heroin. She never flinches in the face of danger. The closest she comes to wavering is thinking "I don't want to do this, so now I am really going to do this". Nobody is as selfless and brave as she is. No one. Except Frodo.

The one exception as far as interesting characters goes is the vampire Gavriel, who is very strong and very crazy. He becomes good friends with Tana, and their whole relationship, not to mention Gavriel in general, is very fascinating. His story would have made for a more interesting novel, really.

Despite the character flaws, the novel itself was very interesting. It held my attention and was finished within 24 hours. Don't expect it to change your life, but do read it if you are looking for entertainment.

I give it 7.5 out out of 10.


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