For the past ... some number of years I've been avoiding the vampire young adult novels and movies. I figure the reason for this can go pretty much unspoken. I blame the book-series-that-shall-not-be-named. Twilight. cough. hack. Even saying the name after reading the first two books in the series makes me cringe. Vampires have been completely tamed, turned into creatures that can be domesticated as long as you love them enough. What nonsense is that? Part of what makes them romantic is that they are monstrous. Dracula was romantic, but damn, he didn't sparkle. Gavriel was romantic in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, he didn't sparkle either, he bled. Thank you, Holly Black, for restoring my faith in vampires.
Tana is an average human teenage girl. She likes to party, has a douchebag ex-boyfriend who she can't seem to shake, a best friend away at drama camp, and a tag-along little sister. One night while she's at a sundown party, all of that changes. She wakes up, after passing out in a shower, to carnage beyond what she can believe. The description of the dried blood in the carpet crunching between her bare toes - definitely a winner and when I knew that this had some real potential. Someone had cracked a window to let a breeze into the locked down farm house and everyone had died for it. She finds herself on a roadtrip to Coldtown, with her vampire bitten ex-boyfriend and a slightly crazy vampire, Gavriel.
Coldtown is basically a quarantine for vampires. I adored the way that Holly Black approached vampirism. She approaches it with a combination of a disease, an addiction, and an unlocking of the inner self. In this world, when you've been bitten by a vamp, you are considered Cold. This is when the craving for human blood kicks in. Once someone who is Cold drinks human blood, they die and wake up a full fledged vampire. However, there is a catch. If a person manages to go eighty eight days Cold, without drinking human blood, they beat the disease. Of course, these 88 days are basically like detoxing from drugs, except you have superhuman strength and senses. Usually, once someone goes Cold, they bring themselves to Coldtown, or their families turn them in, because beating being Cold is so rare and difficult that it is basically considered impossible. Once you're in Coldtown, you never never ever get back out.
Truly, the only reason that this wasn't a five star book was something I couldn't quite put my finger on. The gore was delicious, the people were real, the background was fascinating, the vampires were tackled beautifully. However, for some reason that I can't put my finger on it felt like the writing lacked passion. It lacked some sort of spark that I kept hoping to find. It just wasn't there.
Overall, an amazing book that speaks volumes for the classically gory blood-soaked vampires, even in young adult. Vampires don't need to sparkle, people.