by Holly Black
First sentence: “Tana woke lying in a bathtub.”
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Content: Lots of violence, some of which is graphic. Very little swearing, most of it mild, and no sex (though there is some talk of it). It’s in the teen section (grades 9 and up) in the bookstore, but I’d let a 12- or 13-year-old who was interested in vampires read it.
I’m going to start this one off by saying this is, hands down, the best vampire book I’ve read in AGES. (I’m not going to add that it’s basically the only vampire book I’ve read in ages.Oh, wait.) It’s dark, it’s gory, it’s bloody, it’s creepy and yet so very awesome. It’s everything a vampire book should be.
Tana Bach, 17, lives in a world where vampirism is a plague. It’s a disease, and there is a cure — to starve oneself of blood for eighty-eight days — but there are enough vampires running around to make it necessary to set up Coldtowns, places where vampires, and humans who are attracted to that lifestyle, can live without endangering the rest of the population.
Except that they sometimes do.
Tana wakes up on the morning after a huge party to find a houseful of corpses. Somehow she managed to sleep through a terrible vampire bloodbath, though she’s not the only survivor. She stumbles into the back bedroom and finds her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, newly infected, and a vampire chained nearby. She does the only thing she could do: saves them. Thus starts her terrifying adventure.
It’s one where she meets a lot of people, some nice — like Jameson and Valentina and Winter — most not so nice — like Gavriel, the vampire she saved. And yet, it’s not a black-and-white book. It’s wandering around in the murky shades of grey, where everyone is out to protect themselves. And Tana… oh, boy does she shine. She is AMAZING. Not in a superhero way, but in that human, flaw-filled, and yet awe-inspiring way. She faces her demons, in a most literal sense, and comes out on top.
Yes, there is a romance between a 130-year-old vampire and Tana, but, as I keep telling people in person, it’s not creepy. And while it’s there (and there’s this great sexy non-sex scene), it’s also something that’s not the focus of the book, which, perhaps, is why it’s not a creepy thing.
At any rate, I couldn’t put this one down, and having finished it, I wish it wasn’t due at the library so I could start it all over again.