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The Chocolate War (Chocolate War #1)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  26,070 ratings  ·  1,939 reviews
Reissued now in hardcover with a new introduction by the author, Cormier's
chilling look at the insidious world of gang intimidation and the abuse of
power in a boys' boarding school is no less relevant today than it was in
1974.
"Vicious and violent mob cruelty in a boys' prep school is not a new theme but
Cormier makes it compellingly immediate...Mature young readers will res
...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published August 1st 1986 by Turtleback Books (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mary
This 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 more 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 fig ...more
Greg
Not to boast, but for almost the past 15 years I've read more 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 S ...more
Ashley
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 purp ...more
Apryl
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 w
...more
Heather
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 ...more
Melki
Do I dare disturb the universe?
from a poster that hangs in Jerry Renault's school locker

My 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
...more
jzhunagev
Jul 15, 2010 jzhunagev rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aaron and Ariel who loves reading YA Fiction.
Recommended to jzhunagev by: the "Voice"
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 des
...more
Carla
The bleak viciousness that is this novel made me really really anxious and depressed. I couldn’t wait until it was over. I skimmed the whole final chapter and I've been doing my breathing exercises for the past couple of hours to rid myself of the bad chemicals that are pumping through my body.



Ultimately this book is about:



How evil pervades

How pacifism is ultimately a violent act

Martyrdom gets you nowhere

How vicious children really are

Writing a vicious book about viciousness that assaults the re
...more
Rachel
Oct 26, 2014 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: uh for once i have no idea. no one.
Recommended to Rachel by: for high school english. yay.
Oh god. You know? I honestly wish I could remember cool things from high school English, but whenever my roommate and I embark down memory lane, all I whine about is this book. What can I say about "The Chocolate War?" (Spoilers ahead, folks!)

It stinks. No seriously. Jerry's musings about "disturbing the universe" (poor T.S. Eliot) put me to sleep and I honestly couldn't wait for the school's secret society to knock the ever lovin' crap out of him. I may also be missing some grand message, but I
...more
Maciek
Do I dare disturb the universe?

The Chocolate War is probably Robert Cormier's best known novel - and certainly his most controversial one. First published in 1974, it has since been frequently challenged and banned in many schools and libraries in the US, and forty years after its publication remains very high on the most frequently censored books.

The novel is set at Trinity School, an all-male Catholic preparatory high school, and focuses on Jerry Renault - one of the freshmen. Jerry is a quie
...more
Darlyn
MY BLOG: Your Move, Dickens

I absolutely loved this book, which isn’t surprising since it reminded me of John Green’s novels. John Green is ONE OF MY FAVORITE WRITERS. Now, Cormier and Green are two completely different writers, but Cormier’s use of the T.S. Eliot line ‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’ reminded me of John Green’s use of literary references in his novels. Cormier only used a single line from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, but what a perfect line it is. It summed up the novel
...more
Ms. Liebman
Reading this for/with the 8th grade. Mrs. LeVasseur had a pile of them and she highly recommended it. "Sure!" I says.

SO now I'm well more than half way and fascinated. I keep thinking that it's some big analogy for government and democracies or maybe the school is Russia and it's about communism. I'll have to check when it was written.

And now that I'm finished with it...let me continue my review:

I'm really surprised by the complexity of the characters. It reminds me of Watchmen in a way because
...more
Adam Wilson
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is in my top five favorite novels of all time and is definitely the best book I have read this year so far. The book shows us the cruelty of people and the amazing power of intimidation both by students and by teachers. The story concerns a Catholic school for boys which embarks on a massive chocolate sale mainly controlled by Brother Leon, who uses what he calls school spirit to try and get the students to sell all 20,000 boxes. Jerry, our young protagonist, ...more
Nova
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier, takes place in a Catholic prep school for boys. The main character is Jerry Renault, a freshman who is dealing with the recent death of his mother. Not only has Jerry’s mother died, but his father has become very depressed and is unable to help Jerry through this difficult time. When school starts Jerry puts everything he has into making it on the football team, and things seem to be going well until the lead member of the school’s secret society, The Vigils ...more
Maria
I don't recommend The Chocolate War.

*****

I guess there is no way to soften the blow, but The Chocolate War is senseless to me. i thought the book has no purpose. It is my first time to encounter a story without a likely hero. Man, this really sucked for me! My apologies to my dear GR friends who liked The Chocolate War. Like what i said, agree to disagree. right? =)

I guess what i'm looking for is this: a ray of hope, a sliver or chance that maybe, maybe in the end something good will happen. How
...more
Jeanette
I Did not like this book at all. I had to force myself to finish it just because I hate leaving books unfinished. It is a story about a chocolate sale at a private boys prep school. The action revolves around one evil bully, an equally evil and manipulative teacher and their victim. I find it extremely unbelievable that one teenage boy could have as much power as the bully in this story does. The plot was completely ridiculous. I did not care for the theme of the book or most of the action of th ...more
Allison
Allison Freeman

APA Citation:

Cormier, R. (2000). The Chocolate War. New York: Dell-Laurel Leaf.

Genre: Controversial/Banned

Format: Print

Selection Process: ALA’s List of 25 Most Challenged Books 2000-2009

Review:
Jerry Renault is asked to join the Vigils, a secret society or peer group (gang) at Trinity School for boys. The task he must finish to become one of the Vigils, he must say "No" to selling chocolates for 10 days. Brother Leon is infuriated by his refusal and many of the boys at the school f
...more
Kevis Hendrickson
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is one of those books that was required reading when I was in grade school. However, I was one of those kids who was preoccupied with other concerns during English class and refused to give The Chocolate War even an ounce of my attention. In retrospect, I am glad I didn't read this book when I was younger. I would not have been able to appreciate the subtle brilliance of The Chocolate War and the genius Cormier displays to tell his tale.

Although I was frustrat
...more
Carol Storm
Makes LORD OF THE FLIES look like good clean fun!

I had to teach this book as a high school teacher. It was hard selling it to the kids because I really hated it myself. The problem is that Cormier is writing a book that just doesn't succeed on any level.

SHOCK LEVEL -- no, it doesn't shock. It's not like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE where the violence is over the top, sensational, and terrifying. These kids are more like whiners and snitches who react to verbal taunts with elaborate schemes and weird para
...more
One Pushy Fox
There's a reason why teachers have been using this searingly real and powerful book to teach about morality and the perils of group think for the past 30 years. It's because The Chocolate War is an amazing story, filled with characters of variety and depth, told by an author of supreme talent.

I really enjoyed this dark look at teenage life and the cost of conscientious objection in the face of severe peer pressure. See my full review on Bewitched Bookworms.
Jessica
Dec 09, 2007 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who don't have enough problems of their own
If you are an aspiring writer whose goal is to mar indelibly the psyches of your readers, may I suggest you concentrate your efforts on children's fiction? Kids are much easier to shock, and if they read your effectively disturbing book they will remember it forever.
Kyle
4.5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. Since for a book report I have due in several weeks, my school district demands that it be on a non-fiction book, I chose a biography done for Robert Cormier, and it includes chapters that discuss some of his more well-known works (I Am the Cheese, We All Fall Down, Beyond the Chocolate War, etc.) I decided it best that I read as many as I can to avoid spoilers for the books that have premises that intrigue me.

While this doesn't quite reach the standards s
...more
Eileen
The reason The Chocolate War is a central novel to YA literature is it is the first YA novel to suggest that “evil might conceivably carry the day” (Cart, p.70).Goober best describes the situation at Trinity. “Look, Jerry. There’s something rotten in that school. More than rotten. He groped for the word and found it but didn’t want to use it. The word didn’t fit the surroundings, the sun and the bright October afternoon. It was a midnight word, a howling wind word.” (p. 151). Several sentences l ...more
Mari
you read the blurb and ask yourself: it's a story about a school drive to sell chocolates?!

trust me, it's so much more than that. yes, it's fundamentally a story between good and evil but then you reach a certain point where you can no longer distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. you start to question the characters' motivations for doing what they do - why archie orchestrates twisted plans against everyone-the school administration, the popular kids, the bullies, even against the vigils;
...more
Adele Griffin
Thirty-five years later (and 27 years after I read it for the first time) this book doesn't pull one false punch. Archie Costello is a villain for the ages, and Cormier's cinematographic plot strings the tension all the way through to a mesmerizing final act.
Hanan
No!
I refuse to bestow upon a higher rating just like Jerry Renault refused to sell them goddamn chocolates. Dramatics aside, I genuinely wish I could but then I wouldn't be true to myself, ehh.
My investment in it was pathetic, otherwise I would have finished it within a few hours (I pause a lot to eat and revel in music) instead it took me A WHOLE DAY (do not snicker, it's a thin book!). I almost contemplated dragging it till the next, but I decided to just get it over with. Hell, I'm glad that
...more
Deborah
Although Sister Eileen talked about this book frequently in high school I never read it. After reading it, I think I'm glad I didn't read it then. It just might have prevented me from getting out of bed in the morning. While the school I went to didn't have this particular cast of characters, or this particular problem...some of the underlying themes were there. Especially the muted sadism of the faculty.
To conform... or not to conform... I'm still not sure which way the author was trying to get
...more
Hai Lu
i selected this book, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier because the title sounded quite interesting and i also heard from my cousin that it was a good book.

The plotline of this book is what impressed me. It started out by saying how this (weak? - merely a freshman but went agaunst the vigil-archie and trinty) kid, Jerry, is getting attacked on the football field. Then theres this vigil thing where everyone in the school knows about it but nobody directly mentions it and its not like anything
...more
Cathy
I had long wanted to read this book based on my love of the 1988 movie of the same title with the awesome soundtrack. Enough time had passed that I didn't remember the movie all that clearly, but, wow, I knew after finishing the book that there was something wrong. I had loved the movie. I did not love the ending of the book. Then I looked it up and confirmed that, yes, the filmmakers changed the ending. Although the changes are commonly seen as negative, I disagree. I think the changes improved ...more
Josiah
The master. The greatest. What can I say about Robert Cormier that so many before have not already declared? Yet it still seems to fall short of the mark. There is an internal tenseness that one gets when even thinking about reading a Robert Cormier book, that is unlike the effect of any other writer. You can't count on everything turning out all right in the end, the protagonist being led through extended difficulties to a place of greater knowledge and peace with themselves. You really never ...more
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10442
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 ...more
More about Robert Cormier...
I Am the Cheese After the First Death The Rag and Bone Shop Tenderness Fade

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“He hated to think of his own life stretching ahead of him that way, a long succession of days and nights that were fine - not good, not bad, not great, not lousy, not exciting, not anything.” 37 likes
“Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.” 37 likes
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