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Old 04-24-2013, 02:56 PM   #1
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A Review

Frantic, Frustrated, and Female...and a Werewolf!

This book is about sex. Not necessarily about having sex, but about wanting sex, thinking about sex, and the confusing and exquisite line between desire with love. It is, in essence, about the sexually charged and sexually confused state of being of a High School Teenager. Add to that already volatile mixture the aspect of being a werewolf, as well as the unpredictably powerful ingredient that is the Female Psyche, and you have Blood and Chocolate.

I've always wondered why a lot of young adult novels don't focus more on sex. Not out of lewd curiosity and interest, but because if you are telling a story about teenagers, then that story will, by virtue of their young hormone-driven characters, be steeped (nay saturated) with sexual thoughts.

I can only speak unashamedly from my own experience, but as a high school teenaged boy I can tell you unequivocally that from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed and even in my dreams…I was thinking about and wondering about sex--not actually having it, but wishing desperately that I could have it, a little jealous about others who I knew were having it, wanting and fantasizing about girls that I was too scared to ask out; and even when I managed to go on a date with a girl, feeling completely lost in the excited turmoil of sloppy kisses, uncomfortable and embarrassing erections in public places and the miracle of touching a girl's breast.

I don't remember much about what I was supposed to have learned in high school to be honest, but I can explain in great detail about every girl I ever had a crush on, of every wayward sexual experience that I had, good or bad.

Which leads me back to Blood and Chocolate. I love werewolf stories, as they seem more human in terms of a metaphor as opposed to a blood sucking dead thing. What I mean is that a werewolf is a creature of instinct and nature, two things which humans have worked very hard to try and bury and pretend don't exist in our lives. We typically let those two things come out when a.) we're having sex or b.) we're incredibly angry or hurt..and then we revert to our animal nature and either rut like beasts or lash out like mad dogs.

Blood and Chocolate is the story of Vivian Gandillon, a beautiful teenaged werewolf, who is trying to set herself apart from the Pack, literally and figuratively. She believes that her Pack (her community of wolves) are growing more and more reckless and dangerous. She also believes that through her own wolf-recklessness years ago, that she may been the cause of her father's accidental demise in a building fire.

But she is a powerful and beautiful werewolf, and her wolf-self gives her an enormous amount of confidence and self esteem within her pack. And also, unbeknownst to her, normal people look upon her beauty and confidence with a mixture of fear and awe, which is why everyone is afraid to talk with her at school. But when Vivian sees a boy, Aiden, that she is attracted to, she wastes no time being coy and waiting for him to ask her out--she sways her hips and goes right up to him and writes her number on the palm of his hand, giving him a look of unmistakable intentions. And when he does call her and they begin dating, it is she who is trying to initiate sex with him, not the other way around. He's being polite, respectful, etc., etc. --all the things a "good guy" is supposed to do; but she wants nothing of that. She thinks its quaint that he is deliberately refraining from having sex with her, even though he desperately wants to. In a way, he's teasing her, playing hard to get, while she's the one who's creating opportunities for them to have sex only to have him or circumstances dictate otherwise. She is a girl who knows what she wants and her sexuality is heightened by the instinctual power of her wolf-self, too. In a metaphorical (and almost figurative) sense, she's the predator and he's the prey.

A beautiful, strong, confident female, who owns her sexuality instead of falling victim to it? This behavior in a female character could conceivably draw a lot of criticism from some readers who may regard her immediately as a slut, for a.) wanting sex, and b.) not afraid to get it.

If this book were told from a male perspective, no one would think twice about this type of characterization and overt sexual behavior. In fact some may even applaud his boldness and sexual intentions and be rooting for him to get the girl, because I think we expect this from a male. But from a girl? It's almost unheard of.

Vivian, to me, feels like an authentic female. There are things she does that I love, while others that I simply hate and confounded by. She reacts to situations with emotion, uncontrollably sometimes, or with deliberate almost calculating (scary?) premeditation. She's not only aware of her sexuality, but she owns it and uses it to entice, tease, reward and punish. Why? Because she's a woman and she can, of course.

The rest of the story is about Vivian and Aiden and the inevitable clash of whether or not they can be themselves (he a normal boy, and she a werewolf) and try to be happy together. Without giving too much away, the result of some honest exchange between the two results in some rather unexpected consequences. This is not your typical young adult novel. Love doesn't always conquer all, some people can't change despite how much you love them, and maybe you weren't in love after all, but just wanted them sexually.

This book, I think, deals realistically--well, as realistic as you can get from a supernatural fantasy--but maybe we should say, instead, "authentically" with teen supernatural romance. To compare with another teen supernatural romance story, I'll use the Twilight series, which had a young teenaged girl who must choose between necrophilia or bestiality. And the only way she can fully be with one or the other is to become one of them (she became a beautiful looking blood sucking dead thing, by the way). The message being that you can't be with the one you love unless you (or the one you love) change to accommodate the other…?

Blood and Chocolate handles the romance quite differently, addressing the fact that your girlfriend transforms into an animal with, what I would say, a fairly accurate human response.

This book is about staying true to yourself…and living with both the pleasures and also the consequences of that choice.

The writing is fantastic. Evocative and almost lyrical at times, but always at a brisk pace yet never feeling rushed. I loved this book. I wish more books were written with this amount of honest experience and realistic consequences. I love the character of Vivian; she is beautiful and dangerous, confident but possessed with doubt; powerful yet vulnerable; tender one moment, vindictive the next; soft as a flower, sharp as a knife. She is, finally, a woman.

Last edited by aecardenas; 04-24-2013 at 06:00 PM. Reason: content change
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