Back in 1997, well before the world got its hands on Twilight, supernatural romances for teens were not really the biggest genre out there. One of the more notable of the titles was Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, who also wrote a vampire novel before this one.
The novel revolved around 16-year-old Vivian Gandillon, pretty much a normal high school outsider... who happens to be a werewolf. Though her family once lived in a secluded town where they could all be themselves, they were forced to flee in exile when one of their pack accidentally murdered a human. It is the only rule they hold sacred, the rule that protects them from discovery and extinction. So now they are scattered across a small town, mingling with humanity. Vivian also lost her father in the move, and struggles to hold herself and her mother together.
For the first time, she attends a normal school, and there she meets a human boy, Aiden. He is quirky, an outsider like her. And she finds his kindness a refreshing change of pace from her squabbling pack mates. Her family of werewolves is leaderless with her father dead, and the battle for succession is fearsome. Vivian finds herself unwittingly drawn into the center of the leadership quarrel, and in the sights of a werewolf who would like to call her his own.
Torn between the human world and that of the pack, Vivian struggles to find herself and where she belongs. What does she want more, blood or chocolate?
- Arranged Marriage: Of a sort. The female werewolf who wins the 'Bitches Dance' (a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown) becomes the new Alpha's mate. Most female werewolves knowingly enter the fight in the hopes of becoming the Alpha's mate; however Vivian accidentally wins the fight when she unthinkingly steps in to protect her mother from Astrid. To her horror, she is announced to be Gabriel's (the new pack leader) mate. In the end Vivian falls for Gabriel and happily accepts becoming his mate.
- Betty and Veronica: Aiden and Gabriel, respectively, for Vivian.
- Coming-of-Age Story: A major theme/plot point is Vivian learning to come to terms with her dual nature and finding out who she truly is.
- Daddy's Girl: Vivian.
- Driven to Suicide: Vivian briefly intends to kill herself due to believing she had killed several humans. Luckily, the truth behind the murders and the real culprit comes out before she can go through with it.
- Eye Scream: During the Bitch's Dance, Vivian tears out one of Astrid's eyes.
- Frame-Up: Rafe and Astrid try to frame Vivian for killing several humans.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: More pointedly present in the movie, as it becomes tradition instead of a forbidden practice.
- In Name Only: The film adaptation has nothing to do with the novel, save for werewolves, some of the characters' names and the title (which doesn't even make sense anymore because of how much they changed the film's ending from the book).
- Interspecies Romance: Between Aiden, a human, and Vivian, a werewolf. It's hinted and eventually confirmed that Gabriel was once in a relationship with a human girl, which ended very badly.
- Literary Allusion Title: To Steppenwolf.
- The Lost Lenore: Gabriel's human girlfriend. He accidentally killed her after inadvertently transforming in front of her, causing them both to panic.
- Love Dodecahedron: Vivian wrestles with her affection for Aiden and her growing appreciation for Gabriel; meanwhile, her childhood friend Rafe is in love with her, but willing to settle for the crazy and reckless Astrid, who has her sights on Gabriel so she can be the new alpha's consort.
- Meaningful Name:
- Vivian means "lively". In addition to the obvious, another female protagonist's name means "(eternal) life"...
- Vivians surname, Gandillon, refers to a historical case of a French family accused of and executed for lycanthropy in the 1500s. Considering that Vivians family has French roots and were said to have fled to America during a period of werewolf hysteria, its entirely possible the author intended to imply the survivors were her ancestors.
- More Deadly Than the Male: Alpha fights: widely announced, pretty standard dominance fare. Alpha mate fights: no warning, no challenge, straight to No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Notably, males must be at least twenty one years of age to engage in the Ordeal. Females, on the other hand, only need to be sixteen...
- Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Vivian has to choose between Gabriel (werewolf) and Aiden (human). In the end she chooses Gabriel...partly because Aiden freaked out and tried to kill her when he learned she's a werewolf.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Rafe hopes to kill Aiden, though whether it's because he wants Vivian or because his relationship with Astrid has driven him to it is left unclear.
- Neck Snap: How Gabriel kills Astrid as punishment for her crimes in the end.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Averted with Aiden, who admires Vivian and even calls her an Amazon. It never comes up with Gabriel.
- Non Human Lover Reveal: Vivian eventually reveals her true form to Aiden. He doesn't take it well.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolves of the novel are their own species, separate from humanity. They call themselves homo lupus. The mystics in the pack believe they are children of a moon goddess, while the more scientific-minded believe they split from humanity millions of years ago, perhaps evolving from a mutant strain of small mammals. The full moon forces them to transform into their wolf form, whether they want to or not... But otherwise, they can change forms at will.
- The Power of Love: A kiss from Gabriel is what it takes to break Vivian's Shape Shifter Mode Lock.
- Shape Shifter Mode Lock: Towards the end of the book, Vivian gets stuck halfway between wolf and human form, a symbol of her still feeling stuck between her human and werewolf sides.
- Ship Sinking: The Aiden and Vivian ship. Trying to murder your girlfriend simply for being a werewolf, even after she tried to protect you, tends to do that.
- Silver Bullet: Aiden melts down a pentacle necklace into silver bullets to kill Vivian after he discovers her secret.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Aiden after learning the truth about his girlfriend, culminating in him attempting to murder her.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Rafe at least sees himself like this.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Aiden tries to kill Vivian after learning she's a werewolf, viewing her as dangerous and evil. In fairness, both he and initially Vivian herself had believed she was responsible for killing several humans, though Aiden barely even gives Vivian a chance to explain the truth.