Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 419 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1st, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

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.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Main characters: 4.5/5

Tana was a great protagonist with a strong voice. She was well-crafted and developed; strong but with her own unique flaws and shortcomings. I love the way that we learn about her background and the added depth that it adds to her character. Toward the end, I sometimes felt that she veered from her original track too much and became too different from what she had originally been, but overall I was sold on Tana as a main character and loved her story.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Aidan was perfect in every way possible. Oh, I mean, I hated him a lot. But he was great. What a character. He added the perfect amount of lighthearted comedy and quirkiness to the novel.

I was torn on Gavriel. In some ways, great. But I think the best way to characterize him is inconsistent, and not just because of the twist. I feel like Black herself couldn't reconcile all the different masks she wanted him to wear. He also began falling into the stereotypical YA bad boy vampire character toward the end. I was frustrated with the way his storyline became something more mainstream and overdone. That being said, I did like Gavriel: his background, his present and his screwed-up-ness. I also like that this wasn't a romance novel. Thank GOD romance is not the forefront of this novel.

There are a lot of minor characters in this novel, and for the most part, they are really great as well. As with the bigger characters, they are all deeply flawed and have their faults, but they are fascinating and frighteningly real. And they are so diverse! In everything. In personality, in gender, in type, anything you can think of. 

Writing style: 5/5

Gah, Holly Black I love you. I know this is the first novel of Black's I've read, but her descriptions and writing are beautiful. The dialogue is down to earth and real. The pacing moves well and holds suspense. This is a long book, but Black's writing causes it to fly by. Her descriptions of the blood and gore aren't the only things that create a dark and disturbing feeling from the tale. You feel like you're there with Tana, experiencing what she's experiencing.

Plot: 4.5/5 
World building, world building, world building! There should be an award for world building and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown should receive it. Black's vampires aren't just sparkly and thrown into a world, they are more unique (though not exceptionally unique, but that's hard to do with vampires), more detailed and more dark than any I've read recently. The world she creates is well imagined, realistic, detailed and intense. She has thought of every aspect that adding vampires will change.

And the plot itself? Well, it is long and winding. Perhaps slightly too long and winding? It can almost be split up into parts: a road trip to Coldtown, time inside Coldtown, and the main conflict between vampires that happens. This third part let me down compared to the earlier two. Black knows how to investigate human behavior even in a paranormal setting, and we see this in the first two "parts", but the third seems to revert back into an "old YA vampire" plot and I wasn't as thrilled with that turn of events.

Ending: 2/5

I mentioned that the third part of the book was my least favorite and I think that's why the ending also left me wanting a little something more. The very very end was satisfying enough, but I was unimpressed with the central conflict and how that worked out, so I'll factor that into the ending score.

Best scene: The very beginning

Reminded Me Of: Maybe The Immortal Rules?

Positives: Concept, world building, depth and complexity of characters, writing style & pacing

Negatives: The last third, Gavriel at the end, very long book, the big conflict


Verdict:  Yeah, I pretty much loved this novel. Can you tell?

Rating:  8.2 / 10 (5 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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