The Chocolate War

The Chocolate WarThis is one of my favorite books I never read it as a kid, but I ve read it several times now as an adult and it s still so beautiful The writing is stark and concise, and so is the story, which is one of the most difficult plots to describe This is one of those where you talk about the theme than the actual story It s the best book about good and evil that exists, you tell someone, after trying to outline a chocolate sale at a religious boy s school that ends in a sadistic boxing fight I read an interview in which Cormier was asked if he thought the lesson is too dark, and he said that it s just the truth The world is evil and there s nothing you can do about it, but he thought that trying to fight against it is the most important thing you can do, even though you re going to fail anyway On a side note, I met him once before he passed away, and he was not what I expected For someone who writes such dark stuff, it was shocking to meet someone who may have actually been Santa Claus He was the sort of guy who must have been someone s favorite grandpa. Do I dare disturb the universe from a poster that hangs in Jerry Renault s school lockerMy youngest son started high school this year, and while that makes me feel old, old, OLD, I m relieved that for the first time since kindergarten, he is not expected to sell stuff for his school This year, I will not be forced to buy any crappy wrapping paper, or magazine subscriptions, or any overpriced chocolate for Easter This is all voluntary, of course Children don t have to participate But they are certainly encouraged to do so Much like inThe Chocolate War Each student is expected to sell fifty boxes of chocolate And, as Brother Leon points out, the sale is strictly voluntary. But that turns out not to be true, and when Jerry Renault refuses to sell the candy, a whole new game of bullying and coercion begins.School is all about learning lessons, and there are many to be learned in this book Power corrupts Disturbing the universe may bring painful consequences And as one student learns, he had allowed Brother Leon to blackmail him If teachers did this kind of thing, what kind of world could it be As to why this made the American Library Association s Top 100 Banned Challenged Books I assume it has something to do with the fact that the young men in this book occasionally masturbate, which we all know teenage boys would NEVER DREAM OF DOING without this filthy book putting that idea in their heads. I grew up in the next town over from where Robert Cormier lived They were nothing towns We went to the same college It was a nothing college But here was this writer with a famous book from my neighborhood Sooner or later I had to read this The Chocolate War is about boys at an all boys Catholic prep school forming cliques and getting their kicks by kicking the shit out of their fellow students mentally and physically This could ve been an English novel.Cormier does an excellent job at capturing the hell and ridiculousness that is high school the plot revolves around selling chocolates and yet, there will be blood Honestly, Cormier did too good a job capturing the least favorite part of my life Don t get me wrong, while I came in for my fair share of abuse in high school, I wasn t overtly targeted And still, I loathed those days The petty fights over the stupidest shit, the condescension of the overlords teachers, threats from all sides, being treated like a child because my fellow students were acting like children shudder I couldn t wait to leave I d be lying if I said my hatred of high school didn t taint my enjoyment of this book I don t want to relive those memories The Chocolate War is not a bad book My three star rating might ve been a four It was see sawing between the two But I went with three, because the writing is mostly solid and great in spots The plot is okay, but it lacks the grab ya quality needed to sustain the tension and tease out the suspense through out Teen angst only holds my interest for so long When I sat back after finishing, I saw I d read a competent book that had moved me a little, but one that I would soon move on from I can t see this being added to anyone s all time favorites list, so why is it so popular Well, this is one of those lucky books that was originally written for adults, but got picked up by a lot of kids, so it was moved from the regular fiction section to the young adults section.and then the authorities were alerted to the fact that naughty things happen in the book and so they banned it, thus ensuring its everlasting fame and that kids would read it than probably would ve otherwise Good work, dumbass authority What a interesting and strange little book I read it because I remembered hearing about people reading it back when I was in middle school high school I think it may have been required reading for some English classes, but I am not sure It definitely has the feel of some other books I had to read for school specifically Lord of the Flies and I could see it appealing to a teenager than some of the other required reading we had.This book was released in 1974 and has to be one of the earliest specifically Young Adult novels The Author even mentions that when he wrote it the amount of books written to interest teenagers is small So, if you are a Young Adult fan, this is your history and worth checking out I said in my first paragraph that this book was strange, but it is strange in a good way While written in the realistic setting of an all boys school, most of the things that happen are very outlandish and unbelievable In fact, it almost reads like a teenage boy s creative writing project Very entertaining, but don t go into it looking for a believable story.Want a quick, fun read that goes back to the origins of one of the most popular reading genres Here it is Not to boast, but for almost the past 15 years I ve read than a hundred books a year I only mention that fact to show the relatively late start that I got on serious reading Sure I read quite a bit when I was younger, but I kind of went from reading Encyclopedia Brown and The Hardy Boys straight to reading god awful books about commandos and then to a steady diet of Horror I wanted to read better books, but I had no guidance in the matter and from my experiences with Literature in High School most every classic I encountered got mangled and ruined by incompetent teachers So for a really long time I read crap, sprinkled every now and then with something good like Salinger or Orwell The point of this statement is that I felt deficient in the breadth of my reading for quite awhile I made it up for it with a huge gusto of reading anything I could get my hands on when I was about 21, but I still felt like so much precious time had been missed when I could have gotten so much reading done Nowadays I don t feel so lacking in what I have or have not read but there is one area that I do no nothing about and that is Young Adult literature I never read Young Adult literature as a young adult, or I should say teenager, since I don t think I ve reached adulthood yet, nevermind ever being a young adult When I was the age for reading these books I was slogging through a Bourne novel, or reading semi homoerotic vampire tales all centering around someone named Lestat I did briefly dip my toe in the YA world with The Outsiders and those awful lies Jay s Journal and Go Ask Alice, but that was it.I wish I had read this novel when I was about twelve or thirteen years old I would have loved it It s got the cool stuff that I liked about Lord of the Flies before the teachers got their hands on it , but with of a point that I could have related to I know my teenage self would have loved this book, that is why I gave it five stars My nearing middle aged self is as blown away by it as I would have been, but I have to admit to thinking it s still a pretty great book There is a dirtiness to the book that I think might be gratuitous, but maybe mentioned jacking off on the first page is a way to capture the reluctant teen readers attention I can see why uptight parents and school boards would try to ban the book, not that I agree, but yeah there is some stuff that I was surprised at finding in a book that is being aimed to teenagers Then again I might just be living in a fantasy world of what makes a novel a teen novel I might be confusing them too much with children books At the novels best moments it reminds me a lot of the late 1960 s movie starring Malcolm McDowell If, an amazing movie that I recommend everyone see as soon as possible Both being excellent depictions of the cruelty of adolescence My only real complaint is that a couple of themes are brought into the novel early on and then just kind of left hanging there As a mature reader I picked up on where the author was heading with the themes, and didn t need for them to be returned to later on in the novel, but would a teen need to have them explicitly brought out I don t know, I appreciated that the author didn t really hit the reader hard with the Nazi stuff he mentions early on, but did he treat the theme too much in passing I don t know, maybe I will learn this in the class this summer, or maybe I will just be contrarian to any discussion about the book and argue the side that seems most unpopular will we even discuss themes what do library classes talk about when they read novels My other complaint is about how the big reversal comes about in the book I don t want to say much , but it seems like the author didn t know how to make the school body change their outlook, so just kind of said that they did It s ok that he did this, because he handled so many other things in the book with quite a bit of sophistication for a book that reads really simply. I know this is considered important juv lit and amazing, but I disliked it very much I can recognize that the whole point was to make you hate the fact that there is evil in the world and even you can become desensitized or mentally manipulated the author is manipulating the reader, overall, and wants the reader to finally recognize it and question it at the end However, this book portrays women as nothing but sex objects only briefly bringing women or girls into the picture for this purpose , and depicts self pleasure as normal for teen age boys, as if they couldn t possibly resist sexual urges I would say that at least a contrast between those that have self control and those that don t would have made it realistic to me If I had read this as a teenage girl, I probably would have felt very degraded and offended I felt some of that as an adult female reading it actually. Here s the deal people, yesterday I was heating up my lunch in the kitchenette at work and had this book with me because I was planning to read during lunch and another woman asks me what the book is about I tell her it s the story of this kid who refuses to sell chocolates at his high school, and then I realize that this sounds like the stupidest book in the world why would anyone care about reading about fund raising I ll tell you why ladies and gentleman because this book isn t about a chocolate sale, it s about peer pressure, conformity, and the difference that one individual can make in any given situation.Cormier s novel is brilliant the dialogue and writing regarding perceptions of others motivations is sharp and incisive Cormier writes in third person and allows us to glimpse into the minds and hearts of characters with a myriad of motivations Most remarkable is how nearly everyone who is an antagonist in this story Archie and the school bully Emile Janza use their manipulation and intimidation as a facade to hide their true personalities The only antagonist we don t get to look inside is Brother Leon, but we re given some backstory on his motivations that is interesting.What I appreciate about the antagonists in this story is that Cormier is unflinching in their evil he doesn t clean them up in the end, they don t learn their lesson, they actually come out completely unscathed That s a hard pill for someone like me, an eternal optimist who believes there must be something redeeming in everyone, to swallow It makes me think about what Cormier s psychology of society must have been like, and how that affected his life Which leads me to realize that there are people out there who have a different definition of the total depravity of man, and to consider how that influences them and their dealings with me I love a story that makes me think about life and interactions, which is why The Chocolate War is so much than a story about a chocolate sale There is one primary protagonist Jerry Renault in this story, but there are other characters who try to defy the corruption on their own level two of the Vigils Obie and Carter try to impact the Universe as does Jerry s friend, the Goober, in his own way Again, we re learning about psychology here, folks you may not be leading the revolution, but we can all do our part to fight corruption and evil in the world At the least, we can refuse to participate in mistreatment I m not talking high and lofty stuff like the situation in Darfur here although that s necessary , I m talking about the way you view others, how you judge the people you work live learn with and how your pre conceived notions of their motivations and backstory influence the way you treat them If anything, Cormier wants us to learn that we don t know why people do the things they do, what has happened in their past, and we need to develop connections with people before making unfounded assumptions about their value or worth as an individual Pretty cool stuff for a story about candy, eh This story was deep and rich kind of like the best tasting chocolates coincidentally , and the characters were so well constructed I wonder at the end what happens to Emile, Obie and Carter, but I don t get my answers and, surprisingly, that s okay with me.I had to give an A rating, rather than A , because I can t be a hypocrite if you don t know what that s in reference to, check out my review of Looking for Alaska, and read paragraphs 4 and 5 about the language in this book I hate to do it, but I have to for the sake of consistency. Jerry Renault Ponders The Question On The Poster In His Locker Do I Dare Disturb The UniverseRefusing To Sell Chocolates In The Annual Trinity School Fund Raiser May Not Seem Like A Radical Thing To Do But When Jerry Challenges A Secret School Society Called The Vigils, His Defiant Act Turns Into An All Out War Now The Only Question Is Who Will Survive First Published In , Robert Cormier S Groundbreaking Novel, An Unflinching Portrait Of Corruption And Cruelty, Has Become A Modern ClassicA New York Times Outstanding Book Of The YearAn ALA Best Book For Young AdultsA School Library Journal Best Book Of The Year This book is one of the most censored books in the country for young adults I read it for my censorship lesson for my lit class and I was honestly frightened of what I would find but it was easily one of the most haunting and well written books I have ever read Cormier is a genius of writing with layers It s a deceptively easy read easy in that I finished it in 2 days, deceptive in that I could read it again and come away reading something different Brother Leon is truly evil His example with Bailey and comparing the class to Nazi Germany is ironic given that he is the most like Hitler and creates a mini Nazi Germany within the walls of his own high school He is everything that a Catholic Brother is not There is so much involved with this novel that young adults could truly benefit from It is stark and open and brutally honest and completely uncomfortable Jerry s thoughts at the end are heartbreaking, They tell you to do your thing but they don t mean it They don t want you to do your thing, not unless it happens to be their thing, too It s a laugh, Goober, a fake Don t disturb the universe, Goober, no matter what the posters say. Disturbing My Universe A Book Review of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier I m writing this review in anguish and in tears.At first I couldn t imagine myself getting interested about this kid who refuses to sell chocolates during a school s annual fund raising event But as the pages were turned all too quickly, I find myself deeply engrossed, on the edge of my seat, clinging on to every word, anticipating each chapter with bated breath I suppose The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier eludes description as if to summarize it was a gross disrespect to you who s reading this review in case you want to pick this book up because I want you to suffer the same anguish that I felt, to cry the same tears I shed after reading this brilliant masterpiece It is a book that boldly challenges us about the folly of conformity and peer pressure It dares us to courageously face the question How can we resist For the life of me, I just can t imagine how I would ve reacted to this book should I happen to read it during my teens Now I know why this book has been constantly attacked by censors and one of the most banned and challenged books in America But its protagonist s sexual musings is just the tipped of the ice burg This is not your regular YA book for it does not concern itself on the banal matters adolescence grapple with but on the resonating psychological and moral issues of the larger human condition The book s climax and its uncompromising ending will jolt you, shatter you, and break you Like The Lord of the Flies it is a work of stunning impact about the monstrous and unfathomable power of evil a book that will linger with you long after you close its pages, an unforgettable story in every measure.Right now I m still thinking of them Archie, Emile and Brother Leon It staggers the mind thinking how are they capable of for I think the book has only given me a glimpse of what they can do Their clutches far exceeds the prep school they inhabit for their very presence is palpable if you would just give a pittance of attention in your surrounding you ll know what I m saying.Most of all I think of Jerry How he profoundly affected me, how his story has become a part of me the one who taught me that to resist is to assist the one who dared me to disturb my universe And right I now I m still uncertain how will I do so, for the fear of the consequences of my action haunts me What will I gain if do defy the status quo Only when we a make choice and stood firm on our conviction do we gain hold of our humanity in spite of inexorable defeat But if humans have the courage to stand together with the aid of self transcending strength and love perhaps good can win.As I wrap up this review my eyes wander at the bar of Hershey s chocolate at my side I know eating it will bring a bitter sweet solace.Published by Dell Laurel Leaf Mass Market Paperback, 2000 Edition 263 PagesStarted June 4, 2010Finished June 6, 2010My Rating

Robert Edmund Cormier January 17, 1925 November 2, 2000 was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries His books often are concerned with themes

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  • Paperback
  • 267 pages
  • The Chocolate War
  • Robert Cormier
  • English
  • 05 February 2017

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