Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause

Vivian is loup-garou, a child of the Moon, a werewolf, and she loves it. She relishes the thrill of the change, delights in running through the forest in the dark, feeling powerful and beautiful. She used to love being part of the pack, as well, until one of them killed a human, and vigilantes burned down their home, killing Vivian's father, the leader of the pack.

Now they have moved to a town, leaving their old lives and hopefully their fears behind. Vivian feels isolated and lonely. She wants friends. So when she finds a poem about werewolves in the school magazine, she is intrigued. The writer is human, but could he be the one to truly understand her? Will they fall in love?

Blood and Chocolate was first published in 1997, but for the most part it doesn't feel that dated. The review quote from Publishers Weekly on the front of my copy calls it 'as addictive as chocolate' and I have to agree, I really struggled to put it down! Vivian is a teenage girl with no self-esteem problems at all - she's hot and she knows it. She's very aware of her own sexuality and desire, and she sets out to seduce Aiden, the poem's writer, rather than waiting to be approached. She also pays a lot of attention to the politics of the werewolf pack, and her own role in the group - her confidence is tempered by her fear that it was her fault that her father died.

Whenever she's rejected or anyone attempts to order her about, she's angry and defiant. On the other hand, she desperately wants peace and longs to be able to run free with the pack without worrying that there is a killer in their midst or that they will be hunted by humans. These internal conflicts drive the story and make Vivian a compelling and unusual protagonist.

This novel is by no means perfect. It's hard to know what the author is trying to say about the gender politics of the pack for most of the novel, and ultimately a lot of those issues are unresolved. I guessed who the killer was before it was revealed.  I strongly disliked the ending and the resolution to the romantic storyline.

But I loved the energy throughout, and Vivian's refreshing confidence. I would recommend Blood and Chocolate with the caveat that there may be aspects of it that you really hate, but that overall it's very interesting. Definitely a book I want to discuss with other people.

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