Vivian’s life is anything but roses and rainbows. Her father died last year. Her mother is acting like an out-of-control teenager. The guys she used to used to hang with – nicknamed ‘The Five’ – are immature and jerks now. And one other thing… she’s a loup-garou, which is commonly translated as werewolf, living in a city full of humans. On top of the normal teenage urges to love, rebel and lust she has to deal with her animal urges to dominate and fight or protect those around her.

Not that Vivian’s complaining. Especially when she meets Aiden, a human boy at her school. But then pack politics start to play havoc with her life and Vivian finds herself torn between the only world’s she known and the world Aiden introduces her to.

I want to start by saying I love how Blood & Chocolate is unapologetic about showing the two sides of Vivian. She’s a wolf first and a human second, which was a new spin on the somewhat overused storyline of a girl werewolf. Usually those girls are trying to “cope” with their animal self. Vivian, however, has fully embraced it. She may be more aggressive (sexually and physically) and more confident than the normal teenager, but she knows exactly who she is. I envy her for knowing that at a time when most kids are trying not to scream from the frustration caused by their constant upheaval of emotions.

The beginning of the book focuses on her and Aiden – how they meet, what she thinks about him, the first date, etc. It also shows some of the pack’s dynamics. They’ve been lost since their former leader, Vivian’s dad, died and they had to move away from their country life to a city where it’s hard to blend in.

Vivian and Aiden fall into a relationship easily. I think it comes from Aiden’s obsession with all things odd and magical. They kind of get each other, even though Aiden has no clue what Vivian is. I’m pretty sure he thinks he completely lucked out with her because honestly, I don’t see the appeal of Aiden. But to each her own.

Now, this book isn’t all about Aiden because that would be boring. Vivian’s the focal point here. While she puts up a tough shell, you learn through her thoughts she’s still vulnerable to the same things other girls deal with. Between her mom’s behavior, the pack’s division and fighting from lack of leadership, and ‘the five’, it’s no wonder Vivian tries to lose herself in a relationship with Aiden. Things start getting really interesting about half-way through when the pack picks a leader. The tone changes, the pace picks up and I was unable to put the book down ’til the end. I’m not going to ruin anything for you, but I do want to say this: Gabriel is mmmm, mmmmm good. You may want to dismiss him at the beginning of the book like I did, but don’t. There’s more to him than meets the eye. (Although what meets the eye isn’t too shabby, if ya know what I mean.)

Oh, Gabriel… I wish you were real. *sigh*

I know werewolf stories have been around for a while and are rather popular right now – especially ones with female leads. This book blows those other ones away, in my opinion. Vivian is so unlike any other werewolf character that I’ve read before. She’s the standard I use when reading other books for a person who lives with an animal inside them.

So, if you haven’t read this book, please do, even if you’re sick of the werewolf books. It’s worth it.

Giveaway Reminder!

We’re hosting two giveaways for Banned Books Week! Commenting on this review earns you an extra entry to win one of two book combos. The first combo includes Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer. The second one includes A Wrinkle in Time, which Kate reviewed yesterday, Blood & Chocolate and two other books to be reviewed this week. For more details and to enter this kick-ass giveaway, see Monday’s entry! Good luck!

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