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Conflicted in Coldtown
on February 2, 2014
When it comes to my opinion of The Coldest Girl of Coldtown by Holly Black, I am conflicted. I have read other books by Holly Black, and they are some of my favorite books.
I wanted this book to be one of my favorites, but it fell short for me.
There was great world building in this book. There were also some moments of well-written, almost poetic, prose. Additionally, there was a refreshing throwback to vampires like the beautiful monsters in Anne Rice’s novels.
The back cover reads, “Coldtown was dangerous. Tana knew. A glamorous cage. A prison for the damned and anyone who wanted to party with them.” That sounded right up my alley! Unfortunately, the book did not deliver these promises.
For a book that promised a peek into this world, the main characters did not even get to Coldtown until halfway through the book. That is part of the reason why the first half of the book seemed to drag on for me.
The other reason this book seemed to drag on is that I kept asking myself where the plot was.
But there was no plot.
Even in the last half, the only smidgen of a plot was from a minor character that seemed to be thrown in at the end of the book to tie some loose ends.
Speaking of minor characters, I think this book would have been much better if that particular minor character was the main character instead. My favorite parts involved him.
His name was Gavriel, and he was a clear throw-back to the vampires of Anne Rice’s world. I loved Anne Rice’s characters Lestat and Louis, so I was happy to see similarities to them with Gavriel. To put it simply, these vampires didn't sparkle, and they were out for blood. Also like Lestat and Louis, Gavriel was seductive and became a vampire during the Victorian era.
But that was the extent of my enjoyment of the characters from The Coldest Girl of Coldtown.
My biggest source of frustration with this book was Tana, the main character. I found her to be very inconsistent. In the first half of the book, every other chapter is devoted to Tana’s tragic backstory involving her mom and vampirism. She spent an ample amount of time feeling upset about this, but certain encounters with vampires didn't seem to bother her. Additionally, she acted rashly and made poor decisions which didn't seem to be part of her character. These sorts of inconsistencies were distracting and frustrating to read.
Much of the book centers on the romance between Tana and Gavriel, but the relationship felt forced and rushed. There wasn’t exactly any exposition to their relationship, and I did not even know she was interested in him until they suddenly kissed. I wondered why a girl who was traumatized by vampires had made out with one. Maybe if she didn't have the tragic backstory at all, or she had actually overcome the trauma, this attraction would have seemed more believable.
In addition to my problem with the main character, I also did not like the third person omniscient point of view. The point of view made me feel distant, and it is probably another reason why I felt no connection to Tana. I think the book would have been much better in first person point of view.
Likewise to the distant point of view, there were awkward points of view shifts in the second half of the book. Suddenly, every other chapter had other characters’ points of view. Although I did enjoy some chapters that involved Gavriel, it was a confusing shift. Maybe if Black had started this earlier in the book it would have worked and made more sense.
There were also awkward places with overflows of information. Some of these were in the point of view-shift chapters. Most of the time this information felt unnecessary since most of it could have been inferred or had already been stated.
Also, there were too many references to social media and related technology. I felt this detracted from the dark and dystopian world. Plus, social media technology is always changing. Because of this, I think in a year or so these references will already be dated in a setting that is supposed to seem like a possible dystopia for our own world.
There is some great description in here that really involved the five senses. However, there was a lot of description that really should have been cut out. Several paragraphs were devoted to describing the character’s Gothic appearance. I enjoy alternative appearances, so it was nice to see them represented, but I found the descriptions to be tiresome, excessive, and verbose.
I wanted to love this book and give it a higher rating, but I honestly think it is worth two stars out of five. I think it could have been be a five star book since it has such a great concept, but it needed some work.
I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. If you can get past the things I’ve mentioned it is certainly interesting. You will probably find, as I did, that you keep reading it just because of Gavriel.
If you’re not sold on the idea of this book, I do recommend Tithe, which is the first book in Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tale series. It’s my favorite book by Holly Black.
On the other hand, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a Holly Black book that I won’t be picking up again.