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At the outset, let me just state that I very much liked this novel.  Klause's tale of a teenage girl who is also a werewolf offers rich possibilities and she takes advantage of them.  The analogy of lycanthropy to both the female menstrual cycle and to the emergence of the animalistic physical urges that puberty brings forth are obvious, but to my knowledge no one else has utilized them so fully.  Her hero, sixteen year old Vivian Gandillon, must face not only the typical pressures of the teenager, she also finds herself in the middle of a political battle within her wolfpack, between traditionalists, who want to avoid close contact with mankind and rebels, who want to start hunting men for sport.  Additionally, her mother has become fairly slutty since her father died.  And to top it all off, Vivian has fallen in love with a human boy, something which is taboo for her kind.  These various strands provide for a richly textured story that Klause weaves into a thrilling tale.

Having said all of that, I am genuinely horrified at the thought that this book is recommended reading for teenagers.  Here are just a few of the reasons that a parent would have to be deeply concerned that their teenager was reading this book:

1) Alcohol: Vivian and her boyfriend, though still 16 or 17, drink quite freely.  The legality or wisdom of this is unconsidered.

2) Presence of Magic: The boyfriend is making a serious study of magic.  The author seems to find the supernatural a perfectly legitimate course of study for teens trying to understand the world around them.

3) Absence of God: The only even remotely religious characters in the book are the boyfriend's parents, who decide that he may have to be deprogrammed.  Also, the father makes a thinly veiled pass at Vivian, revealing his inevitable Christian hypocrisy.

4) Sex: Vivian is an entirely sexualized character, aware and confident of her capacity to use her body and her sexual favors to bend boys, and men, to her will.  Though their relationship is unconsummated, she is fully prepared to sleep with her boyfriend.  Eventually, when she returns to the werewolves, the reader is left with the certain indication that she will mate with the adult leader of the pack.

I'm sure that some "progressive" parents are untroubled by all of this.  But I find it really shocking that the heroine of this novel, who in many other ways is an excellent role model for a young woman, is so encumbered with these other vices.  I'm not so naive as to suppose that our children are not like this today.  But what's wrong with having literature be aspirational--offering them examples of thrilling characters who don't feel compelled to drink and sleep around in order to fit in and be cool.  That may not be "realistic", but I'd point out, we're talking about a teen werewolf book here--we checked our reality at the door.

The final result is a book which I think adults and mature teens would enjoy; but one which is entirely inappropriate for impressionable youngsters.  In the wrong hands it's a virtual primer for
Goth gangs and a book whose content parents need to be aware of, lest it fall into those hands.  The groups, like the Young Adult Library Services Association, which recommend it to young readers are being extraordinarily irresponsible.  After reading it, I understand a little better why parents groups end up trying to ban books from schools and public libraries.

Adults: B+
Mature Young Adults: A
Younger Teens: F


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Young Adults
Book-related and General Links:
    -Annette Curtis Klause (Author web Site, Children's Book Guild)
    -Random House | Annette Curtis Klause
    -AUDIO: Read Aloud with Random House: Blood and Chocolate (
    -REVIEW: The SF Site Featured Review: Blood and Chocolate (Lela Olszewski)
    -REVIEW: T E E N   T U R F book reviews  b y   S c o t t s d a l e    T e e n s
    -AWARD: 1998 list of Quick Picks for Young  Adults (YALSA)
    -AWARD: California Young Reader Medal Books 1975-1999
    -1997 Reader Favorite Awards (Under the Covers)
    -ESSAY: Fantastic Literature:  Defending a Dreadful of Dragons (Penny Blubaugh)
    -ESSAY: Give teens a reason -- or two -- to read (BETSY SPEARING, Tallahassee Democrat)
    -ESSAY: Creature of the night: If you like Harry Potter and love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then we've got a writer for you. (Polly Shulman, Salon)

    -Young Adult Library Services Association
    -New York Public Library:  BOOKS FOR THE TEEN AGE 1998
    -Books / Young Adult Books / Love & Romance Top 25 (Book Magazine)