SPOILERS AHEAD! This is part series review, part rant, part gush over The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. I wanted to love these books SO much, and almost did. And then. And then. Well. Get ready for the rant, folks.
Wherein Michaela and Gretchen review a book they both read on a whim this week.
Hey guys! It’s that time again, when Michaela and I do some tags! We’ve been talking a lot recently about TBRs–and how bad we are at them. BUT, they are important and we have very long ones. This is my version of this tag, and Michaela’s will be out soon as well!
Posts Mentioned in the Video
- What Happened to my TBR
- Top 10 Series I Need to Finish
- Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- Worth It Wednesdays: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
- My Epic Quest to See Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan
- Ithaca College New Voices Literary Festival
- Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards
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. The only problem is, 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.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
Read this book if: you’re looking for adventure, fantastic worldbuilding, and vampire fiction that thinks outside the box.
Do not read this book if: you’re looking for sweet-and-broody vampire romance, or you don’t like blood. Seriously. There’s a lot of it.
I read the short story this book started with a while back, and when I found out she was writing a book off the idea, I was very, very excited. The short story was an interesting take on the vampire myth, free of stereotypes and surprisingly believable. The novel absolutely lives up to that, and more.
In this take on the vampire myth, vampirism is well and truly a disease: once infected, people must either drink human blood and turn into vampires or find someone to lock them up for 88 days while they scream and throw up and try to attack anyone who comes close. If the government finds out you’re infected, you’ll be quarantined in a Coldtown–a walled vampire city–and never, ever allowed to leave, even if you beat the infection. Due to the existence of the Internet and TV, the public has a somewhat unhealthy fascination with the goings-on in Coldtowns, and lots of people dream of being infected. In a way, I think what made this book work so well is that it’s not about vampirism so much as it’s about people’s reactions to vampirism. Some people dream of being turned, romanticizing the idea; some people fight the idea for all they’re worth, even after being infected. Some people become vampires and stay exactly the same, and some people turn into bloodthirsty maniacs. Some families lock infected family members in the basement for 88 days and suffer through the screaming, and others turn them in to the police and ship them off to Coldtown. There’s a broad range of humanity explored through the idea of vampirism here, and I really love how multidimensional the idea gets.
Tana is a very…appropriate main character for her setting. She’s got some nastiness in her past and some problems in her present, and she ends up going to Coldtown for not-very-good reasons, with minimal preparation and a vampire chained up in the backseat. Once she gets there, though, she is no helpless vampire-romance heroine. She is drugged and locked up with two very bad options to choose from, and instead of playing along she makes a third option. She is threatened and she doesn’t back down; she’s attacked and she defends herself. Often writers of vampire fiction play up their human characters’ helplessness in the face of such supernatural strength and give the vampires all the agency, but Tana seems to be at her strongest and most formidable when surrounded by people who think she looks yummy. She gets involved in big, dangerous events and refuses to be sidelined. She is not taking any of your bloodsucker BS.
I think one of this book’s biggest strengths is its ability to produce character development and worldbuilding without slowing the action down at all. The author really does her ensemble cast justice here, and it’s delightful. Even the jerk ex-boyfriend mentioned in the blurb actually gets some interesting character development and does some good things.
Romance didn’t play a very big part, and I was pretty happy with that. Gavriel, the obligatory mysterious/hot vampire boy, is a good character, there’s no denying that: he’s driven, he’s angry, and he is insane–legitimately crazy–in ways that make a really weird amount of sense. He fits right in in the opulent, bloody environment of Coldtown: extravagant, devious, gleefully mad, and dangerous in ways even the other vampires can’t guess at. Which brings me to a plot element I had to think about a LOT before I decided what I thought of it…
–WARNING: Thoughts on relationships ahead. Spoilery, but only with plot elements that you probably guessed anyway!–
Gavriel is everything I could ask for out of a character, but NOT someone I would want my friend dating. He and Tana circle each other throughout the book, which, anyone who’s read any YA at ALL knew from the blurb that there would be romantic tension there, right? I’m super-happy that it’s mostly just romantic tension–these people are REALLY BUSY, they don’t have TIME for smoldery vampire sex. And Gavriel is not…safe. He’s unstable, and a self-acknowledged monster. But he never shows any violence or cruelty or even abuserish tendencies towards Tana (which is better than I can say of 99% of vampire boyfriends out there), and although any relationship between them is going to be inherently abnormal and a bit twisted…I think that’s more because both parties are really abnormal. They live in a weird, violent world, and they’re both weird, somewhat violent people (okay, Tana’s only violent out of necessity, but she doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with it). So although it’s certainly not a normal relationship, it doesn’t seem inherently damaging, just a product of Coldtown and of the two people involved–and I actually am glad that the weirdness of it is acknowledged. Gavriel gives me the creeps, but he’s supposed to. At least the narrative acknowledges that he’s not stable, and Tana is aware of it. And honestly? I think she can handle him.
–End Predictable Spoilers–
So, basically: this book is dark and bloody and sometimes twisted. The world is extravagant and insane and manipulative. People are desperate. Some of the vampires are still people, and some of them turned into monsters as soon as their bodies gave them permission. This book has a lot of desperate people (human ones) in it, and also a lot of blood.
If those are not turn-offs for you, I definitely recommend this book.
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!
Hey everybody! I’ve been missing a few TTTs lately, but I really didn’t want to miss this one! This is a really interesting topic that may verge on me being pretty egotistical, but what’s new? 😛 Let’s get this started!
Okay, so, vlogs are probably a really easy place to go for this, because they ARE a video representation of me, but this gives you guys an EXCELLENT view of how out of control my reading habits are. 😛
I made a point a long time ago to not make this blog about me, my writing and my books, but when my love of writing takes me places THIS AWESOME, I just HAVE to tell you guys. It’s like a side of me I only let the blog see every once in a while. 😛
In this post, I not only ruminate about books but also my family, my birthday and HOLY CREATOR OF CHOCOLATE AUTHOR LOVE! Ahem. Anyways. I lose my mind a little in this post, for good reason!
I … attempt humor in this vlog. It doesn’t go well. But it gives you a window into my personality! …which you probably wish you could unsee, but whatever! I make no apologies for who I am. 😛
This one has a disclaimer for those people who enjoy classic books because, well, I’m not one of them and I unleash the snark! There is 7 mini book reviews in this post and it’s STILL not overly long, which impresses me still to this day. 😛
Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I HATE cliché YA romance. HATE IT. And when it happens, I mention it. In this book, though, I was absolutely losing my mind over the weirdness of it all, and for that it kind of recaps the way I feel about YA romance in general.
Few books have ever made me outright angry. Actually, it was just this one. This post began as my review of Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey, the only book I have ever rated 1 star on this blog in its entire existence, despite having DNFed it. Usually I don’t write reviews of those, just a few lines on Goodreads as to why I personally stopped reading. This book made me SO ANGRY that I just HAD to say something or I would explode.
When I lose my mind about a book, I LOSE MY MIND about a book. Despite having waited to calm down to write this review, I STILL couldn’t get my thoughts in order when I wrote the post. Very few times do I write reviews were I’m just flailing for words, and this is one of them.
This was the very first 5 star review I ever gave on my blog, and OH BOY is there a lot of CAPS and general book love. I mean, it still rather frightens me to read it over because I was SO enthusiastic about the book.
I like to think of myself as someone who can give truthful reviews, not just flail all over the place because it’s something my favorite author wrote. This is my favorite example of this. I tried so hard for WEEKS to forgive Tammy for this book–I mean, but this point I’d MET the woman and found out how fantastic she was when she taught a writing workshop I went to–but I just couldn’t do it. I generally think everything that comes out of Tammy’s fingers is gold, but even I have my limits.
Last month, when I found out there was going to be a Cassandra Clare, Holly Black and Sarah Rees Brennan signing somewhat in my area, I decided I HAD TO GO. Usually I can’t find anyone close to me other than signings at Books of Wonder in NYC, which–while I’m sure is a perfect nice store–IS IN NYC. Just the trip alone there might kill me. So when I heard about this one, I happily told my father that there was a signing not six hours away from my house, but closer!
It was only four.
Luckily for me, I had a birthday coming up (18, that’s a big one, you guys may remember…). For a present, he gave me a gift certificate for his helping to drive me there and back. (That’s four hours ONE WAY, folks.) And yet, yesterday morning, he continued to go, until the moment we left:
“You sure you want to do this?”
“THEY ARE LIKE MY BEATLES. MY ELVIS. MY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.”
Thankfully, we did eventually get out the door. Traffic, however, did not help ANYTHING. We were stuck in so much stop and go traffic all the way down that our hour early plan turned into a fifteen minutes late plan.
Unfortunetly, my lateness meant I’d missed all of Holly’s reading and most of Cassie, but I did totally get to hear Sarah reading from Unspoken. While the excerpt was excellent, it was made THIRTY TIMES BETTER by Sarah’s acting out of the scene, including an almost strip tease. 😉
A Q&A session followed, that was ridiculously entertaining. I didn’t get a chance to live tweet it as much as I wanted because I was laughing so hard, but I did get a chance to get a few of them in! I’ll just insert my screen shot here below…
After that came the signing! Because I was so late, I was literally THE last person in line out of a crowd of over 100 people, so I sat around waiting for a long time to get mine signed, but it was totally worth it. I got pictures with every one of them! (Also, remember, FOUR HOUR CAR RIDE. This is why I look like a wreck. Also, love my Team Jem shirt? Apparently I was like THE ONLY Team Jem member representing. SAY WHAAAAT?)
All in all, I got 3 books signed by Holly (my Modern Faerie Tales set), 3 books by Cassie (City of Glass, Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince) and 1 book by Sarah (Team Human). Allow me to show off a few of my lovelies…
And there you have it! My VERY FIRST author appearance post for the blog! I was fangirling the whole night long, and these guys were so fantastically nice and funny. I wish I could have just sat down with them longer and listened to them tell the funny stories about each other. They are three of my IDOLS, and I couldn’t believe my luck that I got to be near them for a just a few minutes. As you can tell, I’m a little out in the middle of nowhere where book signings (and freaking anything else) are concerned. When I got home I basically passed out from exhaustion, but it was SO WORTH IT. 😀