Book review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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It’s been a really, really long time since I read a vampire novel.  Like, maybe since high school.  But I’d been hearing about this book on and off for a few years, and my library had it, so I thought, hey, why not.

The first thing you should know about this book is that the premise is really interesting.  The second thing you should know is that’s really all it has going for it.

Let’s start with the basics.

Tana wakes up in a bathtub after a long night of partying.  It sounds like everybody’s still asleep, so she quietly sneaks out to avoid embarrassment.  What she finds on the other side of the door is blood, and lots of it.  It seems that vampires attacked the party while she was passed out in the bathroom.  Almost everybody is dead.

She finds the only other survivor, her ex-boyfriend, Aiden, obviously bitten and chained up in one of the bedrooms.  With him is a vampire, who is inexplicably also in chains.  The law states that Tana should call 911 and await further instruction.  It’s not safe to have vampires, or anybody who’s been recently bitten, roaming the streets.  Throwing caution to the wind, Tana decides to embark on a road trip with Aiden and the mysterious vampire, otherwise known as Gavriel.

Their destination: Coldtown, the walled city where vampires are quarantined.  Coldtowns have become a bit of a legend in this new version of the United States.  Live feeds show all-night parties.  Vampires and vampire hunters have become celebrities.  Coldtowns appear to be glamorous, fun, and exciting.  Tana has no desire to live in the Coldtown herself, just to get Aiden and Gavriel there without incident.

It’s a pretty interesting premise, and then nothing else really happens.

There are enormous info dumps throughout.  Also flashbacks.  Just when you’re getting into the story, let’s cut to a scene from Tana’s childhood or Gavriel as a new vampire and totally ruin the flow.

That was frustrating, to say the least.

This is not a poorly written book.  It’s not terrible.  I didn’t hate it.  But I could not have cared less what happened to these characters.  I didn’t understand how a centuries old vampire could fall in love with a teenage girl – something that probably speaks more to me being in my mid-twenties and feeling like an elderly woman whenever I’m around someone under twenty than to any sort of failing by the author.

This is probably a young adult novel that is more suited to actual young adults.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #29: a dystopian novel.