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Blood and Chocolate
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this lauded werewolf novel, published in 1997, has been banned by a number of libraries in the past for its sexual content. At the book's center are great messages about taking pride in who you are and embracing your place in the world, but yes, there's definitely a lot of sensuality to go with it. The werewolf pack strips in front of each other to change into wolves, sleeps around, and there's talk about how sex is better rough, and when you're partially changed into animals. The main character, teenage Vivian, is dating a human boy and frustrated that he's taking things slowly. But there are no graphic sex scenes, just plenty of talk and some kissing. There are a few graphic violent moments, though, where werewolves fight each other (the word "entrails" comes up), human bodies are discovered, and a severed hand drops out of someone's bed. Language can get a little rough too, with a few instances of "f--k" and a fair amount of everything else. Vivian drinks heavily in one scene and blacks out.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When a rogue werewolf makes a forbidden human kill it puts a whole pack in jeopardy. They're burned out of their reclusive home and forced into the suburbs, where they try to quietly assimilate. Sixteen-year-old Vivian's adjustment is the hardest, having lost her father, the head of the pack, in the fire and suddenly finding herself in high school and attracted to Adrian, a fully human boy. Despite her mother's reservations and the acting out of some possessive \"cousins,\" she falls for him and starts hanging out with his crowd. Just as she gets brave enough to even think about revealing her big secret to him, a rogue wolf kills again. And Vivian fears that what she doesn't remember about the night before could put her at the scene of the crime.
Is it any good?
It's funny how a 264-page stand-alone fantasy read is such a novelty now; let's hope mature fantasy fans don't pass this one over, because there's no tantalizing follow-up. BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE will draw in readers who like suspense, a bit of mystery, and a little bit of voyeurism to go with it. The author makes no apologies for the animal instincts of the pack and even shows the beauty in this more sensually charged culture. It's actually what makes Vivian and Adrian's relationship woes humorously refreshing; sweet, perfect boyfriend meets a girl who wishes he'd stop lighting candles around his room and bite her neck already.
While readers are hoping they can possibly work out their cultural divide, Vivian and the pack's troubles mount, the mystery heats up, and Adrian ends up in mortal danger. Yes, all that's wrapped up beautifully and economically in 264 pages. Ah, the good old days.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Blood and Chocolate has been challenged. Do you think the sexual content is too much? Do you think it could have anything to do with the teen girl being the sexually assertive one instead of the boy? Why or why not?
Blood and Chocolate, published in 1997, is two things most fantasy books aren't anymore: stand-alone novels and under 300 pages. Why do you think books are so much longer now and always come in groups of three or more? What influential fantasy series have come out since this novel was published?
What does Gabriel means when he says humans can't change into werewolves but believes "that they have a beast within.... If a person can't give it a safe voice it warps and rots and breaks out in evil ways"?
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