The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the last book I finished in 2017, and the first to review in 2018. As I recently read The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and liked Black’s writing style, I decided to pick this up. This is also a standalone, so it’s a quick read. I’m noticing that I read less and less series; they take up so much more of your time than just one book. Where The Darkest Part focused on faeries, this book has vampires as the featured mythical creatures.
A Coldtown? What’s that?
Vampires exist in this universe, which is otherwise the same as ours. The novel is also set in the present time, with smartphones and camera’s everywhere. Black does some very nifty worldbuilding here. Coldtowns are cities in quarantine, in which vampires and wannabe vampires live. Nobody can leave these coldtowns, and to get inside is also quite difficult. Coldest Girl begins when the POV character, Tana, wakes up the morning after a party. Here’s the blurb from our friends at Goodreads:
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
So while the novel doesn’t start in a Coldtown, the blurb and the title pretty much give a spoiler as to where the main characters are going. This makes the start of Coldest Girl a tad slow, though it’s never boring. Black takes her time for the reader to get to know Tana. She’s a compelling main character. Tana has her own personal history with vampires, which makes it all the more interesting. I questioned some of her decisions but still, I liked her overall. And a likeable character always makes a book better.
How vampires work in The Coldest Girl
Every vampire film and each vampire novel has it’s own mythos. How vampires are created, how they work, etcetera. Most are pretty straight forward (get bitten, become a vampire), some are more elaborate. Black has created a fun new background for how vampires come to be in this universe:
Once a vampire bites you but doesn’t kill you, you get infected and turn ‘cold’. Pretty soon after you’re infected, you start craving blood. You can feed on vampire blood, but that’s mostly impossible since vampires don’t tend to give up their blood. Vampires can feed on the infected unlimited, since they won’t turn and biting them won’t create a newly infected person. Once you drink human blood as an infected, you will die and become a vampire. The human that is bitten, if not drained to death, will still be human and not infected. So infected themselves can’t infect any further. The infection can be stopped, by not drinking any blood for 88 days. But since the hunger drives you mad, this is hardly ever done.
It’s clear from the start that Tana’s ex-boyfriend is infected, so the whole process of craving human blood is described. Tana still cares for him and as he’s infected, the safest place for him is a Coldtown, since there are vampire hunters around. But this is just a subplot, as the main story focuses on Tana, her choices, and the mysterious boy from the party.
Is this vampire novel any good?
Yes, if you’re new to the genre or you really like to read about vampires, this is a good YA take on vampires. The vampires in this book are harsh, they aren’t twinkling like that stupid Edward & co. Coldest Girl is a very quick read, as it’s not a massive book. Black’s writing style is great, her characters are well rounded and each have their own quirks. The worldbuilding is very well done, I would love to read something more from this universe.
Still… the overall plot was a bit of a let down for me. It felt predictable at some points and at the end, there were just so many ‘revelations’ and characters, that I didn’t like it as much as the rest of the book. Also, and this is a very very slight spoiler so stop reading if you don’t want to know anything about this book, I HATE open endings like this. Although this leaves the door wide open for a sequel one day. And I liked this book enough to pick that up, if Black ever writes it.