Rating – 4 stars
For the likes of me Vampire literature in the world is divided in two eras – that before twilight and the one after it. This is not to say every book written about vampires before twilight is a masterpiece or those written after are all pieces of junk – there are of course exceptions to every rule. But you do get vary of what’s headed your way once you pick up a book in today’ time long after twilight has officially wrapped up – as you pick up a book and read one word in its summary or see it mentioned anywhere in the excerpts or reviews – vampire. And the reason for it is pretty obvious. May be Meyer dint see it coming when she was writing her dream, but she unleashed a nightmare upon the literary world when doing so. You cannot ever forget this series is also responsible for the one which led to the coining of the term – mommy porn.
Anyway, skipping over my obvious distaste; let’s get down to Holly Black’ The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I was quite vary of reading it as is given but reading so much praise for Black’ works I got curious and couldn’t help but pick up her latest title. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.
TCGIC’ protagonist is 17-year-old Tana Bach, who lives in a world which sorta was reminiscent of True Blood inspired by Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series to me; in the sense that the world knows vampires exist and they live among humans. The similarity ends there of course. In Tana’ world coldtowns exist – places which are quarantined zones where vampires co-exist with those humans they have infected, the people whose luck ran out on them, forcing them to be trapped and of course those junkies who wish to be turned.
These coldtowns are controlled by the government. People can enter these places if they are infected or crazy enough to take the risk, at their own will but leaving a coldtown is next to impossible. Not to say there aren’t ways to do so but it’s a rigorous process. You need markers – a sort of currency that allows you to approach the officials to make the request, but even then there are numerous medical tests that you need to pass in order to be deemed safe enough to allow exit from the coldtown.
Tana needs to head to the nearest coldtown after she finds herself and her ex Aidan as the sole survivors of a massacre at a sun-down party. Aidan has been infected and while escaping the vampires who attacked her friends and killed them, Tana too is bitten by one of them. Fearing the worst, Tana figures if she could be quarantined for 88 days in the basement of her home, the time to sweat out the infection she will not turn. But the roadblock in her path happens to be her father’ request to stay away from home fearing the safety of Tana’ younger sister Pearl. Tana’ dad who already lost her mom to this disease and had to kill his wife when she tried to drain Tana, cannot stand the thought of going through the same thing all over again. And so Tana sets off to coldtown with Aidan and Gavriel, the vampire who surprisingly helps her escape in tow.
Once inside, Tana realizes all the feeds that the world witnesses being broadcast from coldtown couldn’t be further away from the reality of what actually it is.
There is something about the last say 20% of the book that I couldn’t really happen to like much, but I would say this I would pick Tana over Bella any day. Tana, finds herself embarking on a relationship with a vampire too but she does realize it’s not all roses and rainbows. She sees Gavriel for the monster that he really is and does question herself.
She knows becoming a vampire could grant her immortality and allow her to stay young and beautiful for ever as well, but she also sees the monster that she could turn into. Tana unlike Bella, isn’t interested in giving up her humanity even for the guy she happens to like. In the end as well, she is making an effort to fight the infection and avoid turning into a vampire, even if it may be a futile attempt.
I liked how Black has made Tana out to be this desperate, scared girl on the run, who isn’t a damsel in distress per se. She is trying her best no matter what comes her way and isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes. She doesn’t wait around for people to come rescue her, but tries to get out of whatever mess she has landed herself up in. The attraction between Tana and Gavriel also isn’t merely superficial as well. And thankfully Gavriel isn’t seen hovering around Tana incessantly, or watching her sleep creepily.
Black’ TCGIC isn’t a love-story between a human and a vampire, rather it’s just a part of the story of the girl trying to stay alive and not turn into a monster. A girl trying to give her best shot at fighting a battle she seems bound to lose but not without giving it her best shot before she does so.