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SPOILER ALERT!

Blood and Chocolate

Blood and Chocolate - Annette Curtis Klause

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 beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate? (source)

 


Warning: I've found that there's really no way to write about what I like about this book without going into spoilers (I've avoided them when possible, but it's not always possible, in this case), so I've flagged a spoiler alert and I'm posting this warning for good measure -- if you have not read this book, there are spoilers in this review. Consider yourself warned. 

I was not expecting a lot from this one, and the beginning of the book seemed to confirm my worst suspicions. When Blood and Chocolate starts off, there is a TON of info dumping. It felt almost as if Annette Curtis Klause had to tell us XYZ right this very moment or she'd just explode from frustration. And as a reader, that's pretty overwhelming. She also proceeded to throw a whole bunch of characters right in the beginning, and by the ending of the book, I'm still not sure if I ever really sorted out who's related/connected to whom. 

 

Then, there's Vivian. I'm very much on the fence about how I feel about her. I definitely admire how she's a break away from the stereotypical heroine of supernatural romances. She's not naive and she's very self-assured - in fact, sometimes, she was a bit too self-assured. I personally have never encountered someone who was as deliberately sexy as Vivian is - she's sixteen, but frankly, she comes off as a twenty-five-year-old. And I think that this was a conscious decision on Klause's part, but it still wasn't entirely believable.

 

The first half of the book dragged on quite a bit, to be honest, but then came the Ordeal. Without going into too many details, the werewolf pack needs a new leader, and this is their ritual that is used to select one. After the Ordeal, I flew through the book. It created so much drama and turmoil in Vivian's life and it was fascinating to see how she'd deal with it. I feel as though the first half of the book serves to introduce you to Vivian and her life, but I really don't think that it was all necessary - probably about half of it could have been cut. But the second half, after the Ordeal, is really pretty good, especially if you're into the whole paranormal thing. 

 

What I really love about this book is that it does not fit any of the supernatural romance cliches that I've encountered in the past. For starters, the story is told from the perspective of Vivian, a werewolf, who is pursuing a relationship with Aiden, a human. Most supernatural romances (that I've read, anyway) take place from the perspective of the human. It was really interesting to see things from the supernatural point of view - to see why exactly a werewolf would be attracted to a weak human rather than to one of their own and to observe their struggle as they are torn between loyalty to their pack and an obligation to be honest with their love interest. Vivian really, really struggles with this, and when she finally does make a decision, it backfires on her like crazy. Unlike the Bella Swans and even the Harry Potters (disclaimer: I am a HUGE Potterhead, but really, his initial reaction to Hagrid is a bit underwhelming) of literature, Aidan's reaction to the paranormal when it's right there in front of him is sheer and utter terror, despite Vivian's best efforts to calm him. The truth is, as fascinated as we as a society are right now with vampires, werewolves, and the like, if we "Muggles," so to speak, were to ever encounter supernatural beings in real life, we'd be in shock. And that shock wouldn't just go away. Maybe eventually, we'd come around and want to listen to the werewolf who's trying to reason with us, but I'm pretty certain that, in most cases, if we were to encounter a werewolf in our bedroom, we'd freak out just like Aiden does. So, what I love about this book more than anything else is that Klause is real with us. She doesn't force her characters to behave in a certain way just because she just REALLY wants them to get together -- she allows them to behave in a way that makes sense for them. 

 

I enjoyed Blood and Chocolate much more than I expected to. I would definitely recommend this to fans of paranormal YA romance. It has its flaws, but ultimately, it's unlike just about every other paranormal romance novel that I've ever read and I think it's worth attempting just for the sheer fact that it's different. And, to top that off, it's actually quite good.