Sep 22, 2016

Review: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

TitleBlood and Chocolate
Author: Annette Curtis Klause
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publishing Date: August 11, 1997
Pages/Format: 264, Paperback
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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?


Book in One Word: Notwithstanding


I've actually read Blood and Chocolate before, years ago when I had read the first couple Twilight books, fell into the world of books, and was hungry to devour them all--especially ones featuring vampires and werewolves. And when I first read Blood and Chocolate--well over five years ago--I'm pretty sure I really, really liked it. Enough so that lately I've had the itch to reread it. So I did finally reread it, and I've learned that Blood and Chocolate is the cheap off brand chocolate that you eat just because it's chocolate, even though it isn't very good.

One of Blood and Chocolate's biggest problems is time. It was originally published nearly twenty years ago, before YA became YA and vampires and werewolves were such a major cultural obsession. Back then--heck, even five or so years ago--Blood and Chocolate could have worked (and it did, I believe) because there was nothing to compare it to. Fast forward twenty years and Klause's famed werewolf novel (she also wrote the vampirish The Silver Kiss) is squished between dozens of book just like it--and that are more modern. Though modernism isn't an issue here, for the book never really felt outdated or like it was written twenty years ago. That showed more in the quality, I think.

Since I first read Blood and Chocolate I've read hundreds of books, and even though just a smidgen of those contain werewolves, a vast majority of them have more flesh to them than Blood and Chocolate. Their stories have more filling and detail and don't grace from scene to scene without delving deeply into the plot. Romance is much more developed and shown, and I can see relationships being developed and built up. It's not just the character seeing this guy one day and another, kissing, kissing, and that's all I get from the relationship. A book has got to show--create, explain, feel--more. It's not even that Blood and Chocolate is a bad book--because it isn't! It just doesn't withstand time or hold up against all the books that have come after it.

I think it'd be really interesting to see Blood and Chocolate written for today's audience and publishing standards. (Hell, I'd even take a sequel. I want a sequel, because that ending wasn't enough.) The story's good and compelling, and there's so much potential in restructuring and detailing the werewolf dynamics--their image, their behavior, humans vs. wolf, man vs. monster--giving relationships more time to blossom, or at least showing that blossoming. As is, the pack is clearly human when human, but they're also clearly wolves on the inside: crude, temperamental, patriarchal, alpha-complexes, animalistic, and so on. As for the relationships--well, the romance in particular--it was hard to give a shit when the romance just happened and was more lust (a wolf thing?) than love and no reason was given for me to care. I'm a sucker for romance so of course I liked it, but it could have been so, so much better and being passionate and sweet and feelsy. (Especially with what happens at the very very very end.) This is sort of like an outline, and I'm waiting for the fillers. I want more, and not in the sense that I loved every word and want more, more, more.

I guess you could say that Blood and Chocolate was a reread failure. That's a fear of mine, you know--that I'll reread certain books, utter favorites, and not love them like I did the first time. Fortunately, Blood and Chocolate wasn't a favorite. At least, I don't think it was. But like I said, it's really not a bad book, and it's not a pain to read. It's just an older book that struggles to keep up with the times, and that's unfortunate. It needs more flesh, more to the prose, more to the characters (though some of them are actually pretty dimensional), more werewolfness, more everything. BUT DON'T WATCH THE MOVIE INSTEAD. It's horrible. I mean, maybe the movie itself is okay--I don't remember. But they literally took the book and did the exact OPPOSITE in the movie. So DON'T WATCH IT.


Did I like it? Yes...
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? Not so sure about that.
Would I purchase it? I already have it, but if I didn't I can't see this is something I'd need to own.
Who would I recommend it to? If you like werewolves, then definitely give this one a chance. Werewolves are always done differently from book to book. And if you're not picky and snobby with books like I am, then this may work out better for you.

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