The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
By Holly Black, Read by Christine Lakin for Hachette Audio
Length: 12 hours, 6 minutes
Vampires are all the rage these days. Whether it’s True Blood or The Vampire Diaries or Twilight, vampires are everywhere in pop culture – even Dracula’s back – and it’s easy to see why some people are so bored with them.
I am not one of those people. For me, vampires are the most fascinating monsters. They can be terrifying, seductive, sickening – mirror images of ourselves we try and cover up or pretend aren’t there. A lot of times people complain that vampires aren’t scary anymore – they’re all just sexy emo juveniles, even if they’ve hundreds of years old. I’d like to introduce these people to Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
In Black’s latest YA novel, vampires are no longer mythical creatures. They’re monsters, and the government deals with them by building up walls around vampire ghettos, or Coldtowns. Inside Coldtowns, vampires can literally get away with murder. Anyone can check in to a Coldtown. Very few are allowed to come back out again. Of course, vampires aren’t always contained, so when they go escape, society has come up with ways to deal them, and the people they infect. These rogue vampires can be hunted by reality show stars. Their victims – the ones they bite – don’t automatically turn into vampires. Instead, they’re infected for 88 days. If they drink blood, the infections wins, and they’ll become vampires. If they sweat it out, they’ll retain their humanity.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown kicks off with a classic horror opening. Tana wakes up in a bathtub she passed out in during a party. When she pulls back the curtains she finds everyone else at the party splattered across the floor and walls of the farmhouse. The only other survivor is her ex-boyfriend Aidan, who is chained to a bedpost and is face-to-face with a vampire named Gavriel. When other vampires show up, these three escape together, but not after Tana is bitten. Now, both she and Aidan have been infected, and Tana doesn’t like the hungry, lusty way Aidan is looking at her anymore. So they take a road trip to the nearest Coldtown, and check themselves in.
Black seems completely aware of the over-saturation of vampires we’ve had recently, and she has a hell of a lot of fun playing with it. Teenagers are subjected to school assemblies where teachers and speakers explain to them how awful vampires are (much like assemblies about drugs, sex, etc.) and try to scare kids away from them. This, of course, only glamorizes vampires by making them forbidden. Teens stream videos of what life is like inside Coldtown. They follow the blogs and the Facebook pages. They want to be sexy, emo immortals. But life in Coldtown isn’t so easy, or so sweet. And unlike Aidan, Tana has no desire to be a vampire. In a terrifying flashback scene, Tana’s mother attempts to sweat out her infection in a basement. And now, Tana realizes she’s headed down that same path.
Did I mention that this book is as sexy as hell too? There’s a scene when they first enter Coldtown that made me a little dizzy. Yes, in this book, vampires are monstrous and sexy. And so are people.
Christine Lakin’s husky voice makes the terror, angst, and desire all feel very, very real. While Tana’s life reels out of her control and she’s forced to face down monsters, we’re right there next to her, buying it all. It’s a perfect match between the story and reader, and I’ve already picked up another book that Lakin narrates.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is wicked, sexy, angsty, and scary with the pace and rhythm of a pounding heartbeat. Black says she isn’t currently writing another Coldtown book, but I hope that changes soon. I’d love to catch a ride with her back to the world she set up in Coldtown at some point in the future.
Special thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this book to review!