Blood and Chocolate - Annette Curtis Klause
I'm really glad that I was able to reread this book after so many years. Even on my third read-through, it's funny how some parts I remembered in their entirety over the years and how others got fuzzy and had long slipped my mind. But overall, my interest in this book has not subsided over the years. Reading it then I really was fascinated by it. Reading it now, I realized how strong and liberated a message it sent through the main character, Vivian, and how much strength there was in Gabriel's character even though he became a larger factor in the book only steadily.

Perhaps that's what elated me the most about this book: the strength of the characters.

I love that Vivian has such confidence. I love that she has to face situations of maturity and that she does so knowing clearly what's appropriate and what's not. She knows her body, she knows what it means to be a woman, and she knows the weight of responsibility, even though it doesn't get cast onto her shoulders until much later on. I really loved seeing the way that she went through everything. Considering she was in high school, I love the fact that a lot of the situations and characters handled things almost as though they were in or past college age, something that I never noticed until this most recent reread of the book.

With that being said, there's still growing up that needs to be done, but I feel this isn't your typical story of "growing up" or "finding yourself". In contrast, it's more a story of coming to grips with your own reality and trying to bring a haphazard life together into a concrete direction. I quite like that. I love stories that involve character development, but I feel that reading a story where a character is already strong enough to carry themselves is also interesting, especially when it's thrown into a well-written situation like the one Annette Curtis Klause brought to us here.

I love the realism of everything, even the mythology involved with werewolves here. Even though the book is short and doesn't go into a great deal of detail on myths here, enough information was supplanted that you knew the basics and could run with that. It grounded the facts and kept this from spiraling out of control in terms of "superhuman abilities". Mortality was made very clear from the get-go even for the werewolf-kind. I love realistic things like that which can root down magical or fantastical elements in a story. Fantasy is great, as is magic. I'm a big lover of it and always have been. But magic and fancy have to have their laws and rules as well. It's what makes things more believable, and in the end, more enjoyable as well.

This is a great deal of why this book succeeds in my eyes. It can range in appreciation value throughout the pre-to-teen years and even onwards into college age, because I'm out of college and still love this book. If it wasn't for the realistic portrayal of situations, and the maturity of the way situations are handled-- yes, even some of the scenes that are completely sassy or immature-- then I doubt I'd have enjoyed this book 80% as much. A great deal goes into the way that eventually the characters go about picking themselves up, coming to terms with what they've done, and taking responsibility for it.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to others with a love of fantasy or werewolves. It's got solid characters who have their moments of trial, but that eventually find their way through it. You'll enjoy the plot and issues that arise, and hopefully will find the characters as enjoyable as I did. This is a definite read, and since the book has been around for a while, I'm going to say that you can probably also pick it up somewhere online for probably a cheap price. So invest in it, especially if werewolves are a staple on your bookshelves. I think it'll definitely be worth your read.