The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black 419 pages 11/4/13 pub 2013
This is an exceedingly unusual novel: it’s YA novel about vampires and it is original, fresh and distinctive. One of the things that makes this novel so unexpected is the setting Black has created. Vampires have been thrust out of their coffins. Most of them live in vampire/ human ghettos called Coldtowns.
Tana and her friends are making their way toward the Springfield, MA Coldtown. Tana is seventeen. She wakes up at a party, where the only other people who do are her ex Aidan and Gavriel, a vampire. There are ongoing live tv feeds from Coldtowns and vampire bounty hunters rule reality tv. Gavriel is handsome, but he is also a monster. No sparkling vampires here. Tana doesn’t see herself as a hero, she does what needs doing.
Coldtown is where kids run away to, often at their peril. In that, it reminded me of Bordertown, in a very good way. (The Bordertown anthologies and novels took place in cities jointly ruled inhabited by human and elvish teens.) “Coldtowns were jails ruled by their inmates. Within them, vampires were free. But any vampire on the outside – without the protection of those walls, whether hiding, newly turned, or committing massacres – was fair game for hunters and the military.” (109)
“Vampires were fairy tales and magic. They were the wolf in the forest that ran ahead to grandmother’s house, the video game big boss who could be hunted without guilt, the monster that tempted you into its bed, the powerful eternal beast one might become.” (108)
“There’s something easy about the idea that vampirism is some kind of disease – then they can’t help it that they attack us, that they commit murders and atrocities, that they can only control themselves sometimes. They’re sick; it’s not their fault. And there’s something even easier about the idea of demonic invasion, something forcing our loved ones to do all manner of terrible things. Still not their fault, only now we can destroy them. But the third option, the possibility that there’s something monstrous inside of all of us that can be unleashed, is the most disturbing of all. Maybe it’s just us, us with a raging hunger, us with a couple of accidental murders under our belt. Humanity, with the training wheels off the bike, careening down a steep hill. Humanity, freed from the constraints of consequences and gifted with power. Humanity, grown away from all things human.” (398-9)
This is a fun one, that I recommend highly.