The Chocolate War & Beyond the Chocolate War – Robert Cormier

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Robert Cormier is the distinguished author of many books, including After the First Death, Eight Plus One, Now and at the Hour, Take Me Where the Good Times Are, A Little Raw on Monday Mornings, Fade, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, The Chocolate War, and Beyond the Chocolate War. He is the recipient of the Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award, which recognizes authors “whose books have provided young adults with a window through which they can view their world and which will help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society.” Robert Cormier and his wife live in Leominster, Massachusetts.

The books in two sentences: Trinity High has its annual chocolate sale and is determined to sell the most ever, but freshman Jerry Renault exercises his right to not volunteer to sell the chocolates and the Vigils are not happy. President of the Vigils, Archie Costello, who nearly engineered a murder, gets off scot-free but is not satisfied – he plans to leave Trinity High as the ultimate legend, but not if Obie has his way of revenge…

Who would you recommend it to: Boys or girls who like to read books about boys. Think S. E. Hinton The Outsiders, prep school style. Chocolate lovers would be disappointed by the possibly misleading titles if they are looking for a story about chocolate. This would be more suited to their liking.

OK bits: The writing is really good. Very dark and sinister. You almost feel as if these schoolboys are on par in evil with their adult counterparts in other stories.

Boring bits: It can be a bit too intense sometimes.

Random review quotes:

“The characterizations of all the boys are superb… This novel [is] unique in its uncompromising portrait of human cruelty and conformity.” – School Library Journal, starred review

“No one who has read Rober Cormier’s young adult novel The Chocolate War can forget the anguish of thatfinal fight under the spotlights at the Trinity School… Mr. Cormier is almost unique in his powerful integration of the personal, political, and moral. Beyond the Chocolate War is very much a sequel.” – The New York Times Book Review

Verdict: I was contemplating giving away these books after reading them, but now I’ve decided to keep them. The Chocolate War won ALA Best Book for Young Adults and for good reason. It’s a riveting book that teaches about the power of evil without being preachy, and so is its sequel.

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