On My Bookshelf: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

February 01, 2016

In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Tana thinks she is infected with vampirism, so not wanting to pose a threat to her family, she heads to Coldtown, a quarantined city for vampires and the Cold, those infected by vampires. Tana is accompanied by her definitely infected ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and Gavriel, a centuries old vampire and adventures ensue. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
Basic plot from Amazon: Coldtown was dangerous, Tana knew. A glamorous cage, a prison for the damned and anyone who wanted to party with them.

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. And 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.

Why I liked it: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is young adult literature, but definitely falls outside my usual reading genre. This was my first "vampire" book (gasp! no I haven't even read the Twilight series), but despite that, I couldn't put the book down. I thought I would just read a few chapters before going to bed one night and hours later it was 1:30 am, I was finished up the book, and feeling a bit jumpy anytime I heard a noise outside.

The novel's setting would be considered apocalyptic because of the outbreak of vampires, but otherwise its a normal world, similar to the TV series The Leftovers. Fans of The Walking Dead would also like this book, but society hasn't deteriorated quite as much as TWD, only in "coldtowns," the quarantined areas where vampires live.

In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Tana thinks she is infected with vampirism, so not wanting to pose a threat to her family, she heads to Coldtown, a quarantined city for vampires and the Cold, those infected by vampires. Tana is accompanied by her definitely infected ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and Gavriel, a centuries old vampire and adventures ensue. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom use.
The main character, Tana, is impossible not to like. She is fearless, strong, and always does the "right" thing, but is still a teenage girl susceptible to crushing on boys; the boy she falls for just happens to be Gavriel, the Thorn of Istra, a centuries old, big shot vampire who hunts down other vampires. As the novel progresses, it is revealed that Tana's mother became infected with vampirism and went after Tana when she was a little girl. Tana's father saved her by killing her mother/his wife. In the present, Tana fears she may also be infected, but is determined not to turn out like her mother. She goes to Coldtown to wait out the "incubation" period, knowing that her father will be afraid to have her at home, but then gets caught up in Gavriel's plan for revenge. Then Tana's sister follows her into Coldtown and Tana must save Gavriel, her sister, and herself.

Classroom application: This is a novel I would definitely add to my classroom library and would be appropriate for upper middle school and high school students. The romance aspect might be a turnoff to some of your male students, but I think there is more than enough action in the plot to balance out the romance elements. It could be used in literature circles themed around the genre of fantasy or dystopia.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.


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