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The Chocolate War (Chocolate War #1)

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,501 Ratings  ·  2,301 Reviews
Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing 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 publish ...more
Paperback, First Knopf Trade Paperback Edition, 267 pages
Published September 14th 2004 by Ember (first published 1974)
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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“My name is Jerry Renault and I’m not going to sell the chocolates.”

The Chocolate War is probably one of those books that ends up getting a low rating since it gets crammed down the throats of high school kids in their literature classes. As the mother of a child who is currently being forced to read “a book about girls who do nothing but talk about cute guys” (Spoiler Alert: Marie Antoinette Serial Killer), I WISH his required read
Jason Koivu
Feb 06, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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 cap
Oct 31, 2007 Mary rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 13, 2008 Ashley rated it did not like it
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
Jun 02, 2009 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2009 Apryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: byu-lit-class
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
Feb 17, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-reads, library, series
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
Sep 13, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2010 Apokripos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aaron and Ariel who loves reading YA Fiction.
Recommended to Apokripos 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 de
Oct 26, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  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
Aug 06, 2011 Carla rated it did not like it
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
Jul 23, 2014 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 qui
Jul 02, 2011 Darlyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ms. Liebman
Mar 12, 2009 Ms. Liebman rated it it was amazing
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
Adam Wilson
May 22, 2011 Adam Wilson rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2008 Nova rated it it was ok
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
Apr 12, 2012 Maria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, buddy-read
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
Apr 25, 2008 Jeanette rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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
Janie Johnson
May 11, 2015 Janie Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-challenge
I read this book because it was chosen for me through blind bookies, which is a book swap I participate in with my niece that we do each quarter. So I figured it was time to get to this one. I was unsure what to think about when I read the synopsis. After I finished it I found out that there is a sequel and now I feel pressed to read that one.

In this book we have Jerry who is newly entered into a private school and he posed the question to himself of 'Do I dare disturb the universe?' He asked th
Dec 09, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
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.
Apr 08, 2016 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-noir
Pat Benatar got it all wrong. Hell isn't for children, it's for teenagers.
Having spent my teenage years in a religious school for boys I can honestly say Robert Cormier got it down perfectly, the endless abuse from teachers and classmates alike, abuse given with lip-licking relish. The Chocolate War really took me back. Good thing the novel finally ended or I would have had a breakdown!
The great irony to this testimony to educational tyranny and manipulation is that several schools in the count
Apr 07, 2013 Allison rated it it was ok
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

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
Kevis Hendrickson
May 08, 2009 Kevis Hendrickson rated it it was amazing
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
Carol Storm
Sep 16, 2014 Carol Storm rated it did not like it
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
One Pushy Fox
Feb 09, 2011 One Pushy Fox rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 08, 2015 Jean rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I didn't expect or even really want to like this, let alone love it. I picked it up because it's sort of a classic and references my favorite poem and allegedly is a great "boy book." More of a great human book. As disturbing as Lord of the Flies, yet set in circumstances so familiar and accessible that the horror is even more plausible and visceral. For me, it brought up former high school stuff and current teacher stuff. Beyond that, though, it is just so incredibly insightful and ar ...more
Carleigh Wilmore
Oct 25, 2015 Carleigh Wilmore rated it really liked it
I thought this book had a very good story base. I love that they had a character who stood out to be different. However, I did not enjoy the ending when Jerry wanted to tell Goober not to be different or go against the flow. I think he should want the Goober to stop tradition and to be different from the others. Maybe even form a group to resist the chocolates.
Dec 15, 2015 Jj rated it it was amazing
Do I dare disturb the universe?

This book definitely disturbed my universe, to what extent maybe only time can tell.

What disturbed me? The actions, I swear through the last few chapters I was swearing and questioning why.

Also the thinking of the characters, if they were even really thinking, but of course they were which leads me to thinking if I would have done the same thing being in their shoes.

By the end of the book you could play a blame game, though it would take you nowhere.

Last question
Adela Cacovean

Războiul ciocolatei e o carte care a văzut greu lumina zilei. Scrisă în anii '70, după ce a fost respinsă mai bine de un an de 7 edituri importante, a fost publicată de o a opta pentru ca să fie interzisă câţiva ani mai târziu, dar nu înainte de a fi predată în şcoli în SUA şi alte ţări şi de a fi distinsă cu diferite titluri din categoria "cea mai bună carte pentru tineri a anului 1974".

Deşi au trecut ani buni de atunci, consider că o parte din temele pe
Scarlet Friend
Oct 25, 2015 Scarlet Friend rated it really liked it
Although it is not the genre a generally read, The Chocolate War is a great read. I had to read the book for an assignment. Usually when I'm assigned a book, I can't get into it, but The Chocolate War is different. I enjoyed Robert Cormier's bravery when choosing the road less cliche. Cormier does a great job in describing how certain situations would be if people don't do the right thing. I also think it was a brilliant idea to incorporate chocolate in his book. The book is an easy read; ea ...more
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Chocolate War (2 books)
  • Beyond the Chocolate War (Chocolate War, #2)

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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.” 56 likes
“Cities fell. Earth opened. Planets tilted. Stars plummeted. And the awful silence.” 40 likes
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