Cold -- Engaging Young Adult Mystery with LGBTQ+ Characters


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am working my way through several young adult, middle grade and adult books. Today I get to share a riveting young adult mystery. It is perfect for the upcoming Pride Month (June) as it has many characters in the LGBTQ+ category. The book is Cold by Mariko Tamaki. It is recommended for ages 12+.

From the Publisher:

A boy, a murder, a girl, a secret. From award-winning author Mariko Tamaki comes Cold, a haunting 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.

Told through the voices of Todd in his afterlife and Georgia as she uncovers the truth behind his death, Cold is an immersive, emotional, and provocative read.

From Me:

As a lover of mystery novels, this one pulled me right in. The chapters alternate between Todd and Georgia. Todd is dead. His ghost watches as the police try to make sense of what happened to him and why his body was found naked in the park. Georgia is a girl in the same town. She goes to a private girls' school and does not know Todd. Todd however went to the same school as her older brother, and both were in the same grade. Georgia becomes a bit obsessed thinking about Todd's death and wondering why.

I love how Todd's ghost sees the world differently and certainly feels the world differently. There are times where he describes how he would have felt if he was alive and saw things happen or heard what was said, but as a ghost, he does not have the same worries. It is an interesting view on spirits and what happens when you die. Once the police stop searching for the killer and the family has had the funeral, Todd's ghost begins to become less connected with the world. 

Both Todd and Georgia as well as other characters are gay. At times there are things thought of as a homophobic reaction or crime. Stereotypes are also pointed out as stereotypes and although not the center theme there is definitely a queer theme throughout the book. A teacher and a detective are also gay. 

There is some predictability to the mystery as well as some surprises. This book was a quick read for me. It pulled me right in and I didn't want to put it down. It was intriguing and I wanted to know what would happen next or for more of an explanation of what was happening. The characters are developed only through the views of Todd and Georgia. Some of the happenings are also developed from Todd's memories. It is a wonderful read that I am sure mystery lovers and young adults will enjoy.