Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
I adore the cover of this book. It’s one of my favourites. Add in the fact that it’s a book written by Holly Black, who I also love, and it’s shocking, though maybe not, that I’ve been wanting to read it for two years and simply never got around to it. But I finally did and it was awesome.
This is a book about vampires. Set in a bloodier version of our world in which the vampires came out of hiding and the world descended into chaos. Then Coldtowns were construed, which are basically entire cities that have been walled in to contain the vampires and those who are infected, via vamp bite. There are also humans in these Coldtowns. They are either ones who were already in the city when the walls were constructed or ones who write who write gothic poetry about eternal life and romanticize vampirism to death—no pun intended. So a lot teenagers in Coldtowns.
Tana lives on the outside and is not of the vampirism-is-my-destiny type. But she attended a party which… ended on an unpleasant note and now she, her infected ex, and a vampire (they’re not all evil) must head to the nearest Coldtown before Aidan, the ex, goes rabid and tries to eat her or someone else.
And that’s all I want to say about the plot because it’ll be better if you uncover everything as you go along. But I will talk about both the world building and the characters.
Holly Black’s world building, in my opinion, is highly underrated. Sure, everyone’s obsessed with her Cruel Prince series but they’re missing out if those are the only books they pay attention to. Because it’s in books like this one and White Cat that I think the author’s skills really shine. Because world building isn’t just about the big things like wars and fights. It’s about little things like the impact on pop culture and the blogs full of teens who want to become vampires. Those are the things that make the world feel real. And Holly Black is so good at those.
As for the characters, I loved Tana, who was so strong but also a mess, who was a very believable teenager without ever being unlikable because the author made sure we understood her. The vampire, Gavriel, was also great. And unhinged, but I don’t have a problem with that. The side characters were less great. In fact, they’re my one complaint with the book.
I loved reading this book. And the only time I was annoyed was when it came to the side characters, who were mostly shitty people. Aidan was a total douche, all I’m-gonna-smirk-my-way-out-of-the-consequences-of-my-actions. And then there were two teens they picked up on their way to the Coldtown, Midnight and Winter (not their real names). Winter was mostly fine but Midnight—seriously, could you be more of a goth-wannabe?—was one of the most infuriating characters ever.
But I could have overlooked the annoying twits if we hadn’t spent so much time with them. There were good side characters too but they weren’t enough to balance out the bad ones.
Overall, this was a great book in which the only problem was that Tana needed to keep better company. As flaws go, this isn’t a big one. Especially when you consider that she didn’t have much of a choice. I loved the book and I would really like a sequel, or spin-off set in this world, because there’s so much possibility to it. In the meantime, you should definitely read this one.