You Got Your Blood in my Chocolate!

Over vacation I finished reading Blood and Chocolate. I had initially picked it up because I started watching the movie and nearly gagged from how bad it was. Internet consensus was that the book was better, so I checked it out and read it.

Ugh.

The writing isn’t terrible. It’s standard young adult fiction, which is all I could expect from a young adult novel. I’m not going to bitch about that. And the novel actually deals better with the realities of being a teenager (underaged drinking and sex) than I remember YA novels doing when I was a teenager.

However, the book has such a horrific running theme of internalized misogyny that I thought I was going to be sick.

This post contains spoilers for the novel. Ye be warned!

Vivian, the main character, starts out pretty cool. She’s not the poor pathetic picked on teenage girl, she doesn’t spend tons of time weeping about why she can’t be normal like everyone else, she doesn’t treat her lycanthropy as a curse, but instead sees it as a blessing and something amazing and special about her. Which is a great way for a character to start, she already embraces what’s special about her. Later, she pursues her own love interest out of her desire, she’s confident, poised, and clever when she deals with him. And she never really pretends to be someone other than who she really is, with the exception of her never mentioning she’s a werewolf. But she tells Aiden, the boy, that she’s special and she wants him to love her for all of what she is, including her wolf side.

And that’s about as strong as a woman is allowed to get.

The main villain in the novel is Astrid, one of the unmated female wolves. During the leadership challenge she is the only woman to stand up and demand that the females of the pack be put on equal footing with the males. The rest of the females scoff and scorn her for this, and the males all react as if it’s a joke. When she’s finally allowed to participate she lasts all of thirty seconds before Gabriel, the one we’re supposed to be rooting for, “puts her in her place” and eliminates her.

Along with this is the fact that the men’s challenge is given great fanfare and a ceremony to open it. Whereas the women’s challenge (where unmated females fight for the “right to mate” the new leader) begins with Astrid jumping at Vivian’s widowed mother Esme, without announcement or fanfare. So the idea is that whoever leads the pack is important enough to herald, but whoever fucks him isn’t.

By the end of the novel, Vivian has given in to pack convention and accepted Gabriel as her mate, largely because the sweet natured Aiden POINTS A GUN AT HER after he finds out she’s a werewolf. Vivian manages to save his life, but for her trouble ends up having Aiden shoot her in the stomach anyway. Vivian is convinced by Gabriel that he loves her for who she truly is (let’s ignore the fact that she’s a 17 year old high school student and he’s 25, because that bothered me more than a little). Direct quote:

If she left with him now, her world would be changed forever. She would be bound by duty for life, like her father.
Like my father, she thought, then realized, This is what I owe him. This is how I make it up to him.
“Don’t wag your tail yet, wolfman, ” she said to cover her fear and desire. “You’ve bitten off more bunny than you can chew.”

Right. No thank you.

Is it so much to ask for a YA novel that ends with the heroine looking at her two love interests and then saying “What am I thinking? I’m 17 years old, I’ve got plenty of time to worry about true love. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got more important things to do with my life.”

Yes, I know, it is. Can’t blame a girl for trying.