Cover of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, with a white hand reaching down and the title of the book tattooed on the wrist

About the Book

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Wicked
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: A Shot To The Heart
Bonus Factors: Vampires, Reality TV
Relationship Status: You Shook Me All Night Long

Cover Story: Wicked

Not gonna lie, I kinda wanna get that tattoo on my wrist because it’s so frickin’ sweet. I’ll even forgive the Twilight hand, because it’s like this cover is saying, “Remember Twilight? Yeah, this book is so much better than that.”

The Deal:

Now, before you go all Fred Savage on my ass, let me clarify something: Yes, this is a vampire book. But to say that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is about vampires is like saying that The Hunger Games is about starvation. This novel is SO much more than a vampire book, and even if you’ve had your fill of fangers, I urge you to give Holly Black’s story a chance.

In seventeen-year-old Tana’s world, vampires are real. And not in a secret, sparkly Edward Cullen way, either. Vampirism is a disease known as getting “Cold,” and once a person is bitten, it takes over 80 days for the toxins to leave the body. That’s a long time to resist the urge for blood, which explains why the world is becoming overrun with vampires. It doesn’t help that American culture has romanticized the Cold ones, and while they’re quarantined in Coldtowns, many vampires have managed to become celebrity superstars. In other words, Cold is the new black.

But even though society is fascinated by them, vampires are still very, very dangerous, as Tana learns firsthand when she wakes up after a house party and realizes she’s the only survivor of a massacre. Well, human survivor, because her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, is still alive, but he’s been bitten and chained to the wall alongside an actual vampire, Gavriel. In spite of the fact that the latter is absolutely insane, Tana rescues both of them from the house and hits the road towards the only possible destination–Coldtown, where Aidan and Gavriel can live safely. But unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Tana.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Tana is one BAMF. Even before the shizz hits the fan, she’s already pretty tough, having been attacked by her Cold mother as a child. She’s a loner and a bit of a rebel, but her heart still beats with compassion. And lest I portray her as a Katniss type, Tana does have actual personality. I girl crushed on her HARD while reading this book, especially during her more daring and reckless moments, and I would feel like the Coolest Girl in Cooltown if she was my bestie.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

As they journey together towards Coldtown, Tana finds herself drawn to Gavriel, who is absolutely batty. He speaks in riddles, and his intensions are wildly unclear. Fortunately for him, insanity has no effect on his chiseled cheekbones, not to mention the fact that he’s incredibly lethal (which is another word for dead sexy). I could certainly see the attraction, but ultimately I felt unsatisfied by the lack of depth in Tana and Gavriel’s relationship. Certain developments felt forced and flimsy without the build-up of emotion to support them.

With that said, I have to give Holly Black major pants for pulling off a specific moment that I won’t spoil for you. Let’s just say that it’s probably the hottest yet grossest thing I’ve ever read.

Talky Talk: A Shot To The Heart

Reading this book felt like running a race, and by the time I arrived at the finish line, I was breathless–not only from the breakneck pace, but also from the dizzying array of feelings. Even as she sends you hurtling through the pages, Black takes the time to connect you with the characters so that you care about them just as much as you care about reaching the end. She writes in a straightforward style with authentic teen voices and electrifying descriptions, and her eye for detail is razor-sharp. The last third of the book felt a bit rushed to me, and I wish it had ended on the same strong note with which it began, but overall, the story was deliciously dark and sinfully engrossing.

Bonus Factor: Vampires

Screenshot from Interview with a Vampire, with Lestat and Louis facing off

If you had told me a month ago that I’d be listing vampires as a bonus factor in a book report, I would have laughed in your face, Bela Lugosi style. But Holly Black managed to do the impossible: she crafted a refreshing new take on vampire mythology. In particular, I love the mass commercialization of the Cold ones, from t-shirts to reality shows, which obviously feels completely foreign to anyone living in America, where we never commercialize anything.

Bonus Factor: Reality TV

Screenshot from Jersey Shore, with Snooki on a duck-shaped phone

Society’s obsession with vampires is fed largely through television shows and video feeds streaming from Coldtown, and Black does a bang-up job satirizing reality TV in a way that feels both realistic and ridiculous. Honestly, if my cable provider carried Hemlock: Vampire Bounty Hunter, I would watch the shizz out of it.

Relationship Status: You Shook Me All Night Long

Book, when we first met, I wasn’t sure if you were my type, what with your whole vampire business. But you’re a fast machine, and you kept your motor clean of any Twilight bullshizz. It didn’t take long before you had me fighting for air, because you’re one of a kind, mine all mine. You made a meal out of me and came back for more. (You even had to cool me down to take another round.) The walls started shaking, the earth was quaking, my mind was aching and we were making it!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Little, Brown. I received neither cocktails nor money for this review (dammit!). 

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.