Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Light ON "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown"

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

It's Teen Read Week and I'm celebrating by doing something I do on the regular: reading YA lit and encouraging you to do it, too! Why adults wait for a novel to become inescapably huge (the Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games series come to mind) before reading them mostly because everyone else is, I'll never understand. The entertainment value of the area is clear, with more and more YA novels and series being picked up by major studios and being converted into movies. I'm not saying that all YA literature is good, because I have read the Twilight series and I was sincerely unimpressed (though I get why the story really carried people away). But several YA authors continuously blow me away: Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and countless others. This week, I'm devouring (vampire pun!) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, bestselling author of the Spiderwick Chronicles and Doll Bones.

The world Black has created here is like a super creepy alternate reality: The world is basically the same except there are evil vampires lurking in the dark and everyone knows it. Teenagers have sundown parties where they hole up in a home all night, garlic and rose brambles strewn over entrances. Tana wakes up in a bathtub the morning after one such party, disheveled and embarrassed, and hopes to sneak out before any of her friends wake up. But the living room is pure carnage, bodies and blood everywhere, and none of her friends will ever wake up. Except her ex-boyfriend, who is tied to a bed and infected by a vampire's venomous bite. Chained in the same room is a red-eyed vampire who inexplicably warns Tana that the monsters who massacred her friends are still in the house, biding their time until sunset. Tana moves quickly, rescuing her infected friend and (crazily) the incredibly dangerous vampire beside him. What follows is a seriously tense, very unnerving trip from that death-reeking house to the local Coldtown, a government-established, self-contained community for vampires, infected humans, and normal humans who for their own reasons want to be used by the vampires. Tana is a wonderfully conflicted character: brave despite her fear; strong despite her frailties; simultaneously repulsed and drawn to the coldness. Her back story is touched with terror, which makes her current predicament even more harrowing.

Black's monsters are fairly consistent with the well-established vampire mythology of literature: cold, heartless, hungry, but capable of feeling some human impulses. Black's writing is strong and suspenseful; chapters alternate between Tana's present and what I'll just refer to as "side stories" (including Tana's story, the chained vampire's story, what is going on in the world around while Tana tries to save herself). For lovers of vampire fiction and YA lit, it's a strong recommend. With the rate YA novels are being turned into movies, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets optioned. Find it in print in the catalog!

- Abby, Reference Librarian

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