ARC REVIEW: Cold

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Cold
by Mariko Tamaki
Released on February 8th, 2022
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Young Adult Fiction—Mystery, Thriller

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A boy, a murder, a girl, a secret. A YA novel about a shocking crime, told by a boy who died—and a girl who wants to know why.

Who was Todd Mayer, and why don’t any of his fellow students at Albright Academy seem to know, or want to say, anything about him?

Todd Mayer is dead. Now a ghost, hovering over his body, recently discovered in a snow covered park, naked and frozen. As detectives investigate Todd’s homicide, talking to the very people linked to the events leading to his death, Todd replays the choice that led him to his end.

Georgia didn’t know Todd. But ever since she heard about his death, she can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe because they’re both outcasts at their school, or because they’re both queer. Maybe because the story of Todd people keep telling feels like a lot of fake stories Georgia has heard people tell. Plus Georgia has a feeling she’s seen Todd somewhere before, somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.

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*I WAS PROVIDED A DIGITAL GALLEY VIA EDELWEISS+ IN RETURN FOR MY HONEST REVIEW. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINION*

As someone who reads quite a lot of mysteries and thrillers throughout the year, I will admit this was by far one of the most… different, to say the absolute least.

Mariko Tamaki has a very addicting writing style. It pulls you in immediately, and it keeps you hooked throughout the chapters. I found myself really entranced with the story because of that, and I flew through it fairly quickly.

However, while Tamaki possesses a great writing style, the downfalls really came from the characters. I honestly did not feel as though these characters were given much justice. Todd, being dead, really just sat as one of those overhang characters with very little thought or notion to him. He looked in on everyone else and keyed readers in to developments from other characters and their actions, but very little came from him. What we did get from him character development-wise was predating his death, when flashbacks were thrown into certain parts of the story. I did enjoy the flashbacks a lot, but when they’re shorter, they tend to give less detail and more word vomit, and I believe that’s ultimately what happened with some of them.

When it came to Georgia’s character, I’m more at a neutral standpoint. She wasn’t very memorable, to say the least. In the beginning of the book, Tamaki sets Georgia up to be a realistic figurine of her mother’s story imitations on Georgia’s life. Her fictional doppelganger asks a lot of questions, and to counter, Georgia very rarely asks any. While we’re given little tidbits of Georgia’s character peeking through, it came down to her imitating dead Todd’s character—looking in on other people and really just alluding to what’s happened.

Finally, I did actually enjoy the plot of the story. I think it was a great idea and it had a lot of potential, but because of the other factors along with the pacing, it fell flat. There was a point in time where I came across a sex scene towards the near-end of the book, and it felt extremely out of place. Overall, there were a lot of things that I felt came at an average standing, and while that’s not totally bad, I was hoping for a bit more.

In total, I rated Cold 3.5 stars. I think this is a good start to Mariko Tamaki breaking into YA Fiction Novels, there’s a lot of room for more development in characters, plot and pacing, among other things. I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.

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DELETEMariko Tamaki is a Toronto writer, playwright, activist and performer. She works and performs with fat activists Pretty Porky and Pissed Off and the theatre troupe TOA, whose recent play, A vs. B, was staged at the 2004 Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Her well-received novel, Cover Me (McGilligan Books) was followed by a short fiction collection, True Lies: The Book of Bad Advice (Women’s Press). Mariko’s third book, FAKE ID, is due out in spring 2005.

Mariko Tamaki has performed her work across Canada and through the States, recently appearing at the Calgary Folkfest 2004, Vancouver Writer’s Festival 2003, Spatial III, and the Perpetual Motion/Girls Bite Back Tour, which circled though Ottawa, Montreal, Brooklyn and Chicago. She has appeared widely on radio and television including First Person Singular on CBC radio and Imprint on TVO. Mariko Tamaki is currently attending York University working a master’s degree in women’s studies.


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