Post number twenty is for Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate, which was a required reading assignment for my YA Lit class. This book was a shade darker than I was anticipating, and there were parts of it that were difficult for me to read. I also initially thought – before I'd even looked at the book itself – that it was about vampires, which it's not. It's about werewolves, but not the werewolves that most people are accustomed to.
So Vivian is a werewolf, and she lives in the same town as her pack. Her father was the leader, but he was killed in a fire, and the pack had to flee. Now they're in the suburbs, and they don't exactly fit in. Vivian attends the local high school, but she doesn't have any friends; boys stare at her but don't speak to her and the girls glare in her direction. This is because she's extremely pretty, and she carries herself "like a queen". However, when she reads a poem written by Aiden about the change from human into wolf, she decides she must meet him. They click instantly, and she finds herself falling in love with him, and him with her. With Aiden comes friends, and Vivian finally feels like she fits in. Her pack, on the other hand, is disintegrating; they need a leader badly, and it's decided that they will hold the Ordeal, where the male wolves will fight until only one is left standing. Then murders start occurring, putting the pack at further risk. Vivian also finds herself torn between telling Aiden the truth about herself – she's sure he'll understand and appreciate what she is – and not, as it's against the pack law to tell humans about themselves.
I was not surprised when Vivian decided that she must tell Aiden what she is, and he reacts predictably; the change terrifies him, he freaks out, and dumps her, then tells his friends that she was a crazy, obsessive girlfriend who was overly jealous of Aiden's female friends, yadda yadda. She also keeps waking up without any memory of what happened the night before, and conveniently enough, the "night before" always concludes with someone winding up dead. She isn't sure that she's the murderer, but can't really say she's not since she can't remember.
She also has a group of childhood werewolf friends everyone calls the Five, one of which she used to date. There's also Astrid, who keeps hitting on male werewolves young enough to be her sons, who wants to fight in the Ordeal even though she's female and up to that point it's never been allowed. And then there's Gabriel, the one who ends up winning the Ordeal, who wants Vivian as his queen.
The hardest chapter for me to read in terms of brutality was probably the Ordeal itself. The author doesn't shy away from some rather grotesque descriptions, and I found myself cringing while I read Vivian's pov of the fighting. And then there were the heartwrenching sections about Vivian herself, especially after Aiden rejects her. Those are something that probably any female would find emotional.
All in all this book was okay. I enjoyed some aspects of it, like learning to love and accept yourself before you can love another, and being who you are and not being ashamed, but other parts were, well … kind of gross. :)) I guess when you get used to reading books like Twilight, you forget just how gruesome werewolves and vampires can really be.
Anyway, if you like this genre, you'll probably like this book. But be forewarned – which I was not! – that some parts are quite graphic.