Tana wakes up the morning after a wild party...in the bathtub. She's sure that everyone is already awake and poised to give her a hard time about her behavior from the night before. To be fair, seeing her ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend didn't exactly set the best tone for the evening --- especially when Aidan kept encouraging her to make-out with this new girlfriend. He was always able to make her do what she wasn't quite comfortable doing. And he knows it. None of this would have happened if her best friend Pauline could have made the party.
"If you think you are exhausted with vampire stories, think again. Holly Black creates a world full of vampires that's refreshing and unlike any other."
After working up the courage to leave the bathroom and try to gather her things (and get some much needed coffee), she walks into a scene straight from a horror movie. All of her friends from the party, nearly everyone she's known since kindergarten, are stewn out on the blood-stained carpet. Dead. Then she notices a slight breeze. The window is open. It must have gotten hot, someone opened a window and vampires came into the party to feast --- and maybe they're still in the house. Frantic, she runs to the bedroom to retrieve her coat. What she finds is Aidan bitten and tied up on the bed and a red-eyed vampire on the floor, also tied up and gagged.
She makes a split-second decision and decides to save both Aidain and the vampire boy. There is only one place to take them --- to the nearest Coldtown, a quarantined town where vampires and those turned "cold" by a vampire bite are sent. Even though those who are cold can fight back the infection by refraining from consuming human blood for up to 88 days, those who enter a Coldtown cannot return to the normal world without purchasing or earning a token out. Coldtowns are also broadcast to the outside population, where certain vampires gain infamy from elaborate parties and the seductive quality of undeath they portray. This is why certain non-infected humans find their way to a Coldtown, with the aspirations of eternal life amid the dangers of death.
Tana is now faced with many questions. Does the scratch she have from leaving the house mean she's infected? Did her younger sister actually enter the Coldtown? Who is this vampire boy and why did other vampires treat him as a prisoner.
If you think you are exhausted with vampire stories, think again. Holly Black creates a world full of vampires that's refreshing and unlike any other. First, vampirism is a disease that you can catch but is also an infection that your body can fight if you have the self control to wait off. Second, Coldtowns are essentially the equivalent of reality TV shows' closed houses with a cast, which you have the potential to join if you are willing to face the risk of never returning back to normal reality. Third, Tana is a determined female protagonist, who takes up the burden of aiding the two (actually pretty pathetic and dependent) male characters, who have to be constantly vigalent against their bloodlust. There is a touch of romance at the end, but neither character truly "saves" the other. What they form is a partnership, which they acknowledge will take a lot of work to maintain...for a variety of reasons.
Reviewed by Liz Kossnar on September 18, 2013