Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

12813630Title:The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Paranormal, Vampires, Young Adult
How did I get it: I bought it
Click here to buy this book from Amazon

SYNOPSIS:
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.


Review:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. You are lying if you tell me that that title doesn’t intrigue you even just a little, and you are lying even more if you say that that cover doesn’t tickle your morbid curiosity. Those two factors are what made me want to read this book so, so bad, I could literally feel my hands itching for it. It had been a long time since I’ve read a good vampire novel and I wanted this book to break that dry spell. Sadly, it didn’t.

The plot revolves around Tana, a 17 year old girl living in a world where vampires exist and are contained in a Coldtown, walled cities within cities that housed the living dead. One morning after a party, she wakes up to find her friends  bluish pale and drained of blood, all of them dead except her ex-boyfriend who was infected and chained in the guestroom with a manacled and mysterious-looking vampire boy at the foot of the bed. Unable to stomach the thought of leaving them in the mercy of the vampires who killed her friends, Tana gets them out of the house and drives them into Coldtown.

If you guys have read any of my reviews before, you would know how particular I am when it comes to characterization. I want my characters well-rounded and multi-faceted because that’s one of the biggest factors that makes a great book for me. But despite the backstory and the constant insight into Tana’s thoughts in the narrative, she felt flat to me as a character and I found her personality quite boring. She was projected as the guilty daughter who was responsible for her mother’s vampirism and death, and that played a big part into wanting to save Aidan and Gavriel, but other than that, she’s really dull. Even her bouts of bravery seem to come out of nowhere, like they’re being pulled randomly out of a box.

The most outstanding character for me is Gavriel. Oh dear Lord, he’s the exact personification of my weakness. I have this personality quirk where I am helplessly attracted to damaged, unpredictable, and potentially insane people. Gavriel are those things exactly, not to mention mysteriously sexy. He has a very good backstory that supports his brand of madness, and it makes him a shade or two more vivid than the other characters in this book. I particularly enjoyed scenes involving him, and even though Tana’s impression on me was weak at best, I have to admit that she and Gavriel have that slow burning chemistry form their very first scene together. To be honest, Gavriel was the only reason I read until the end, and if he isn’t so insanely sexy, I would have dnf-ed this early on.

In terms of plot, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown could have done better. It was basically non-existent until 60% in the book, and the story was so very dragging at times. There were lots of unnecessary scenes that didn’t move the plot along at all, plus the irritating transition of flashbacks to present. It just wasn’t smoothly done and it disturbs the flow of the story. It felt like they were just inserted there without much thought on how it would affect the continuation of each chapter. Think of road blocks that you have to go around so you could drive at your regular speed. Think of road blocks that pop up several times. It gets annoying, really, and coupled with the author’s inconsistent writing style, it made my head hurt a little.

But despite being practically plotless and having bumpy transitions, I would still have to commend Black for creating a breed of vampires with a different mechanism on vampirism. The way of turning was unique and the vampiric lifestyle was interesting, although they largely stayed true to the mythical cannon.  There was also that great realistic feel because of the mentions of things that we currently have and enjoy in real life, like Tumblr, for example. That fangirls are gif-ing the famous vamps is something that’s entirely plausible if we ever have the vamp problem. I could actually imagine it, and that’s just creepy. I also liked the gory details of this book, and Holly Black does those parts extremely well, plus the parts that involve ass-kicking. Those were pretty good, too.

Unfortunately, the good parts weren’t enough for me to get over the bad ones. I was hugely disappointed by this book, and maybe that’s because I was expecting too much out of it, but I also didn’t foresee how low it would fall from those expectations. Nonetheless, it was scary in its own way, and fans of horror, paranormal, and vampire novel aficionados might like it better than I did. 2 coconuts.

2-coconut

This is the second book I finished for my Tackle Your TBR Pile Read-A-Thon.

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Book Review: The Hallowed Ones (The Hallowed Ones, #1) by Laura Bickle

13018514Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Dystopia
How I got it: I bought it

SYNOPSIS:
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.


Review
:
A book about an Amish girl! Wow, talk about something different in YA. When I first saw this book on Goodreads, I was immediately intrigued. I found the synopsis interesting and I must admit that before reading this book, I didn’t really know what an Amish was. I’ve read a lot about Jewish. Christians, Agnostics etc etc, but never Amish. So I guess that’s one big reason why I picked up this book and decided to read it, but what made me keep on reading was way more than just curiosity for a culture I wanted to know about.

Katie is our heroine, an Amish girl that was nearing her coming-of-age adventure called Rumspringa but before she could embark on this much-anticipated journey, something happens to the world outside that made Katie’s Rumspringa impossible. The entire Amish country was locked down by their elders and no one, not even the nearly dying man that found his way just outside of the Plain Folk’s fence was allowed to enter. Katie was not blind to the injustice of this situation that seemed to her to go against everything her faith was supposed to stand for. In the end, she decides to break the rules and take the man under her wing to nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, the rest of the world continues to fall into chaos and destruction because of a spreading virus that turns anyone who’s infected into a creature completely devoid of humanity. With the Amish isolated in their patch of hallowed ground and the ‘outside’ as good as non-existent, Katie fights against the close-minded denial of her own people and at the same time, struggles to find her self amidst the horrors of her current reality.

I made the mistake of reading this book on my tablet at two in the morning with all the lights off. It was a stupid thing to do because it scared the flip out of me. It’s actually very creepy in a way that I wasn’t able to anticipate. There are a lot of YA novels out there parading as “paranormal” or “horror” but doesn’t really deliver any significant scare factor. In fact most of the time, the paranormality in these books tend to end up being flimsy or over romanticized. But this one of Laura Bickle is different. It spooked me and triggered the darker nature of my imagination mainly because of the way Bickle tells the story. Katie’s voice as the narrator was calm and composed even when the narrative takes completely horrific and blood-curdling turns. It never seemed shouty or forceful or falsely tense, as is the case with some books. Somehow, this collectedness only served to underline and emphasize the frightful atmosphere of the plot.

Katie is also a very likable character. I was able to identify with her primarily because of her inquisitiveness, a quality she tries to quell due to its implications to her religion. She is torn between the things that people tell her and the things that she knows in her heart and mind to be true. She questions her orders while her people follow them blindly. She’s headstrong without being stupid and her quiet rebellion is a constant source of fascination. Her spirit is unbreakable despite the threat of danger and she holds on to her principles and her truths even if standing by them meant she would be shunned by her community.

Understandably, religion plays a big part in this story, but Laura Bickel’s skillful writing was able to render the subject in a way that coincides beautifully with the other elements of the novel. Another thing about this book is that it was very educational. I learned a lot about the Amish way of life and Bickel’s portrayal of their culture is truly compelling without being preachy. Be warned though, this book is quite heavy on vividly described scenes depicting gore and other gruesome scenarios, although I would insist to you that they were tastefully done and were not overbearing. However, if you are not a fan of blood and hacksaws, you probably should just move on to the next book.

4 out of 5 coconuts rating (I should probably have a rating guideline soon) because there were questions in this book that were not answered even as the novel closed. I’m certain they would be addressed by the next book but I was kind of disappointed that the author decided to leave some lose threads. The conclusion was wrapped up nicely considering, and I can already see where the next book would pick up the pace. I am very excited about the sequel of The Hallowed Ones, which already has a title, The Outside. This book is a genuinely scary read with romantic undertones and a dystopian plot that also includes a girl’s self-discovery and an insight into the Amish culture. If you are looking for something that’s both dark and enlightening, I highly recommend that you read The Hallowed Ones.

4-coconuts