Not five stars because it's the best book ever. Five stars because I am completely enchanted with its tough-as-leather heroine. Tana Bach awakens in the bathroom of a friend's cabin, sincerely regretting her excesses of the night before. She is hungover and feeling awful, but not as awful as she is about to feel. When she staggers out of the bathroom, she finds all her friends are still at the party...but also, they are all dead. The only survivors of what appears to be a bloody vampire feast are her annoying ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a very hungry-looking boy with red eyes: a vampire. Aidan and the vampire are both tied up, and they both present a deadly danger to Tana: Aidan has been bitten by a vampire, which is turning him Cold and giving him an unquenchable thirst for human blood; if he gets his fix, however, he will die and be resurrected as a vampire. Gavriel, the vampire, is injured and hungry and apparently being hunted by vampires who are still on the premises, sleeping off their feast. Tana should get out, and get out fast. But Tana is not that girl. And this is why I love Tana: she is brave in a very specific sort of way. She is not reckless and dauntless; she's just more aware than most people are. As the story continues, the reader learns Tana's history: as a child, she was the proximate cause of her beloved mother's death, and she only survived herself because someone else did the right thing, despite its enormous personal cost. Tana is only seventeen, but she knows something that many people never learn: that dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Sometimes living with the consequences is much, much worse. Which is why Tana is THIS girl, instead: "No one else was going to get killed today, not if she could save them. Certainly not someone she'd once thought she loved, even if he was a jerk. [note: He WAS a jerk. Tana is not wrong. Tana is an excellent judge of character.] Not some dead boy full of good advice. And she hoped not herself, either." This is Tana all the way through. Yes, she cares about these people: Aidan, Gavriel, her little sister Pearl, the people she meets in Coldtown (which, by the way, is the designation for quarantined cities inhabited by humans infected by vampires, and by vampires themselves - scene of endless parties and 24-hour reality TV). But she doesn't delude herself. Her dogged courage is not simply on their behalf: Tana just refuses to be a part of another loved one's death, no matter how inevitable that death seems. Tana has a cold eye for the risks and benefits of her actions. I enjoyed this book enormously, despite some minor flaws and the initial slow pace. (Also, the blood. I don't really read vampire novels because ALL THAT BLOOD.) I think what I really got a kick out of was how the characters stayed themselves: Aidan , for example, is always 100% Aidan, no matter what happens to him, always half jerk and half charming, irresponsible teenager. I liked Midnight and Winter, twins who are simply itching to become part of the decadent mess that is Coldtown; I liked the (too-brief) backstories on Lucien and Elisabet, the reigning consorts of Coldtown. And here's another thing I REALLY liked. You should know that I am a person who loves knowing the meanings of names, so I looked up the names of the main characters. Gavriel is Russian for Gabriel, which is delightful because his opposite number is named Lucien - do I even need to explain that one? Aidan, the boy who is going Cold, has a name which translates as "Little Fire." And Tana's own name derives from Tatiana, or Titania - the ruthless Faerie Queen, in her own way the Coldest Girl in Coldtown.