Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause: B

From the back cover:
Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beasts? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

Werewolf Vivian Gandillon can’t understand why the kids at school don’t seem to want to hang out with her. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? Still, the boys seem perfectly able to resist her until she meets Aiden Teague, an occult-loving poet whose piece on werewolves in the school literary magazine catches her eye. Vivian finds herself drawn to the floppy-haired Aiden, and they begin dating, to the consternation of his friends and her pack. At first content with how things are going, Vivian soon wants more, and decides to share her secret. Aiden doesn’t take it well and driven somewhat mad by despair, Vivian begins to suspect that she’s responsible for a string of murders that has the pack on edge.

I haven’t read a huge amount of fiction in which a human is in love with a supernatural being, but until Blood and Chocolate, those that I have read were always told from the human’s point of view. The switch works very well here, as the focus is less on the romance—though that is an exceedingly important part of the story—and more on Vivian’s inner conflict. She wants to fit in with humans and to make friends, and yet clearly feels herself superior to them. (Indeed, some reviewers have found her unlikable because of her repeated praise of her own appearance, but I took this as an animal-like way of measuring her status in a pack.)

On top of her relationship with Aiden, Vivian is also concerned about her pack, which is looking for a permanent place to settle after having fled their previous home the year before when one of their own went out of control and killed a human. At a ritual for determining the new clan leader, she accidently earns her place as the victor’s mate, and faces pressure from her family to take on this role and leave her “meat-boy” behind. I really enjoyed reading about the pack dynamics, and felt that Krause did a good job for establishing why Vivian would prefer a more… primal kind of love than what she and Aiden were presently engaged in. When things go wrong, followed immediately by the discovery of a vicious mauling, Vivian seriously believes she is the culprit. This plot is reasonably well handled, though I found the resolution pretty obvious.

The one real problem with Blood and Chocolate is that one feels at a remove from the characters. Perhaps that is due to the alienness of Vivian’s perspective and way of thinking, which at times turns quite vicious indeed. Aiden, seen solely through Vivian’s eyes, fares no better. In the end, while this is a very interesting book, presenting a fleshed out look at werewolf culture, it’s not a very engaging one.

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  1. Hey Michelle! Glad to see you read this one. It was an assigned text for me in college and it was one of the books I did not sell back at the end of the semester. My class really enjoyed discussing the way the author wasn’t afraid to include Vivian’s experimenting with alcohol, instead of dodging the issue and throwing out a generic “booze is bad” message. I agree with you, though; it’s not a perfect read.

    • Heh, I know what you mean about books you didn’t sell back. I still have a copy of The Awakening from high school English. 🙂

      And yeah, the author doesn’t shy away from much, be it booze, sexuality, or werewolf savagery.

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