October 28, 2013

Book review: 'Coldest Girl in Coldtown' will leave you breathless

For those apprehensive about yet another vampire book: Don't be afraid to bite. Holly Black's intelligent thrill ride puts the "Twilight" series to shame.

In “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” the world has been overrun by vampires, but they’re not like any vampires you’ve seen before.

These clever creatures have a reputation for being as deadly as they are beautiful, so despite the many deaths they cause, no one truly wants them wiped out. Instead, the vampires are quarantined in “Coldtowns,” immense walled-in cities occupied by humans and vampires alike.

Cameras mounted throughout the coldtowns allow humans outside to watch what goes on within the walls, supposedly from a point of complete safety.

Watching them on a screen, the book’s heroine, Tana, feels distant from the vampires. They have no connection whatsoever to her own life; they couldn’t hurt her and never would. But she is quickly shaken out of this belief when she wakes up to a nightmare.

Having fallen asleep at a party with her friends, Tana discovers that she, her ex-boyfriend and a brooding vampire boy are the only survivors of a massacre. Tana is faced with the choice of fleeing for her life to the nearest Coldtown along with the two boys, or staying to face whatever creatures were responsible.

Holly Black’s newest novel for teens is not for the faint of heart. Set at a whirling pace with jarring twists and turns, “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” will knock you down and leave you breathless. Readers will constantly find themselves in a state of anticipation as they try to understand the characters’ motives, though at times, the complicated stream of information about vampires’ habits and the details of how vampirism spreads can be overwhelming.

Tana is a complex, gritty character who is completely unpredictable because, like anyone in such unfamiliar territory, she has no idea what she’s doing. Every time it looks like she’s finally safe, Tana faces another threat. But Tana retains her humanity as she navigates through Coldtown while trying to avoid infection and keep her resolve strong.

For those apprehensive about yet another vampire book: Don’t be afraid to bite. “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” is a complex, action-packed novel, with no sparkles and love triangles to be found. This intelligent thrill ride puts the “Twilight” series to shame.

Madisen Peek is a seventh-grader at Lee Middle School in Sanford.

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