Author: Holly Black.
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.
I picked this up at the library just a little while after writing a blog post marveling at the prevalence of vampire novels, which struck me as funny. The story was fast-paced and flowing, the characters interesting enough to keep me reading; I admired the MC’s determination and strength of will in her battle to stay human. Beyond that it had some distinctly weird sub-plots, from the somewhat-insane vampire (who may or may not be in love with MC) to the simply gruesome levels of blood and death in Cold town.
Sexual Content: “Aidan had urged Tana to make out with his new sulky-mouthed, strawberry-haired girlfriend, saying it would be like an eclipse of the sun and the moon,” […] “you mean an eclipse of the sun and the moon in your pants,” Tana had told him.’ / …”pretended nothing bothered her. […] He would make out with girls in front of her. He would make out with boys in front of her.”/ Girl kisses a boy.
Language: 9 hell, 6 scatological terms
Violence: A quick overall view: there’s a fair amount of blood, either mentioned or described, and quite a number of fairly graphic scenes with vampiric attacks. Although the following example instances encompass much of the book, they’re not all-inclusive. // Character finds bodies in the living room. She quickly realizes that they are the result of vampires, and remembers what she’s learned about a previous vampire outbreak, including a couple disturbing images of men, women, and children (vampiric) killing. Same character remembers being attacked by her own, infected, mother. Vampire bites, but doesn’t kill, a boy. Two characters duel and one kills the other with a shot through the heart. Three vampires commit suicide-by-sunlight. Vampire attacks a close pov character and drinks some of her blood before she can fight it off. Character stabs a vampire through the heart. A short period of memories of torture (fairly disturbing): a vampire character was flayed, cut open, and subject to a number of other indignities.