My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I debated hard on whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. 3.5 would have been perfect but it got rounded up for having an insane vampire.(I have a thing for this, seriously, I read/watch them, I write them). But it's a bit more on the 3 star side for world building which I have some problems with. There are minor spoilers in this review, most for the world building.
Vampires exist and it is viral. They know that the 'Cold' people can survive the virus if they make it 88 days without biting anyone. If they drink human blood, they die and rise as vampires. And the virus makes it so all they want to do is bite and drink. Now here's my problem. The CDC and WHO aren't perfect at containing outbreaks but did no one think to empty out a few prisons which would be perfect for locking up the infected after a bit of retrofitting so they could be fed in their cells? I mean someone figured out the 88 day thing so it had to be tried. There's not enough explanation as to why we went with just building walled cities, the titular Coldtowns, where humans, infected and vampires live in what is being televised/webcasted as eternal balls (making it look cool) and expensive marks are the only way out for the uninfected. Frankly I see governmental drone strikes taking out cities with outbreaks long before I see them going 'eh, just wall them up.'
But okay, once you can except that, the story is pretty fun but to be honest I read it for Gavriel not Tana, which is bad since she's the main pov character. Tana does a lot of stupid things, things she realizes is stupid and I'm torn between thinking, yeah she's like 16-17 so it's sensible that her thought patterns are like this and wanting to slap sense into her.
It begins creepily enough. Tana wakes up in a tub hidden by a shower curtain where she passed out only to find everyone dead. All her friends at the party have been slaughtered and all she can think of is getting out of there while it's still daylight (because she knows first hand what it's like to deal with a Cold person) and that she is so happy her best friend, Pauline wasn't there. But her ex, the bi-sexual and promiscuous Aiden is and he's chained to a bed and Cold. Next to him in chains is a beautiful vampire boy who's mad as an outhouse rat.
Tana makes her first, but understandable, mistake. She rescues them both but in the process the vampires responsible for the slaughter try to stop her, a fang catching her in the leg. Unsure if she is now infected, Tana doesn't call home and tell her father and sister anything (which is infuriating because it's going to have predictable results later and most normal people would do it). Tana instead drives Aidan and Gavriel to the nearest Coldtown. In the process, she is surprised that Gavriel doesn't try to attack her and unsurprised that infected Aidan does, even though he is still mostly her friend, just in the throes of his disease.
Gavriel is delightfully genteel yet violent and insane with moments of lucidity (He does remind me of Joss Whedon's Drusilla and that's a good thing). I loved his character. They picked up two other teens, the twins Winter and Midnight who want to be vampires (well the sister, Midnight, wants it much more than her brother and wants to blog it all).
Unsurprisingly, Coldtown isn't the beautiful eternal ball Midnight and Winter (and Tana's sister, Pearl who watches all the webcasts from the handsome elegant vampire, Lucien, whose parties are infamous in the Coldtown). It's a crappy slum. Things go very much sideways from there and Tana finds herself with new allies inside the town, including a transgendered girl. Worse, Tana finds herself caught up in the betrayal/revenge scenarios of some big name vampires including the Thorn of Istra (the Thorns are self policing vampires who used to keep infected rates down as the vampires hid in the shadows until Casper Morales went public). The Thorn had been tortured for a decade after he showed Casper mercy and unleashed the unprecedented vampire plague (three guesses who that is).
Tana grew on me as the story went on. Her history was interesting but not nearly as much as Gavriel's. Some of the chapters were very slow, especially Pearl's. But overall I liked it. One more world building nitpick, if the Coldtown's are locked down by the military, just how the heck did the vampires get out and then back IN to attack Tana's friends and set this all in motion? That is never even hinted at. The ending is open enough to allow for a sequel. I'd be interested in seeing Gavriel again because he's so my character type. It was interesting to see vampires who were dangerous but not entirely evil per se. The virus seems to enhance the anger and predatory nature inside us all.
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