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The Chocolate War

(Chocolate War #1)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  41,928 ratings  ·  3,135 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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Daysha I do not think it is worth your time. The book's first half is just the same thing over and over again. The teachers asks Jerry if he wants to sell ch…moreI do not think it is worth your time. The book's first half is just the same thing over and over again. The teachers asks Jerry if he wants to sell chocolates he says no.(less)
Spencer Miller 3/10 It can spark some interesting discussion, but in my opinion, there are much better books for young readers to spend their time with. This book de…more3/10 It can spark some interesting discussion, but in my opinion, there are much better books for young readers to spend their time with. This book deals with themes such as corruption, violence, and hopelessness. Though interesting topics in and of themselves, probably not the most vital or interesting topics to a classroom of middle schoolers. I would consider something less depressing that your students might actually get excited about reading. (less)

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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
Oct 17, 2007 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
Jason Koivu
Feb 16, 2012 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
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 more than some of the other required reading we had.

This book was released in 1974 and has to be one of the earl
Nov 13, 2008 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
Sep 10, 2012 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
Jun 02, 2009 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
Feb 17, 2009 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
Jan 07, 2009 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 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Always looking for new and exciting ways to approach my reading challenges, I turned to Robert Cormier’s book all about the battle to conform to a larger power or stand up and buck the trend. Jerry Renault enjoys his time at Trinity Boys’ School, particularly when on the football field. He is still learning the ins and outs of the academy, where there is a definite hierarchy amongst the boys, depending on their age. When it is time for the annual fundraising drive, chocolate bars are again the p ...more
Aug 06, 2011 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
Mar 20, 2009 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
Rachel M.
Jun 09, 2008 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 M. 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
Carol Storm
Feb 28, 2011 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

When I started reading this book, I was wondering to myself about why this book was banned in so many schools. Now, I know why. “The Chocolate War” is a popular young adult book by Robert Cormier and it is about how a young teenage boy named Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolates at his school, Trinity and how he faces some hardships from Brother Leon and the Vigils because of his defiance. “The Chocolate War” might be a bit too disturbing and dark from some people, but this book is clearly on
Jul 05, 2014 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 q
Adam Wilson
Apr 30, 2011 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
Lean and mean, great allegorical writing; for me, what happens at Trinity is Nazi Europe in a nutshell -- it's easy to see the Vigils all growed up and goose-kicking their way through murder and mayhem. Evil exists in even the most innocuous, seemingly innocent a prep school, and the preppie students who go there. A little power can fuel a lot of misdeeds and looking the other way is how evil wins. While I feel this book has a lot to offer, especially for its intended audience, and ...more
Oct 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 k ...more
Ms. Liebman
Mar 11, 2009 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
Dec 10, 2015 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
Feb 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2008 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 08, 2012 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
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War
267 pages

A glowing review from The New York Times doesn't pretty much guarantee that that book will fulfill your high expectation. Instead, it rockets your expectation high, and it hurts when your expectation fails you. Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War, for example, is often regarded as one of the best young adult books ever written, but for me, The Chocolate War is a homophobic and misogynistic book, set in 1970s in all-boys Catholic high school--which m
One Pushy Fox
Sep 25, 2010 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.
“They don't actually want you to do your own thing, not unless it's their thing too.”
― Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War

A great book from childhood. It is amazing that a decision not to sell chocolate could be the setup for such an incredible meaningful book. This is also a movie.

Highly recommended.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Trinity is an all boy Catholic school. As part of an annual Trinity fundraiser Brother Leon has pledged the boys to sell 20,000 boxes of chocolate, up 100% from the normal 10,000 boxes goal. Not only that, the chocolates cost $2 instead of the usual $1.

Trinity is ruled by an elite clique, The Vigils, and the person who runs that clique is Archie Costello. Archie creates “assignments” for his fellow students: various stunts and pranks.

Jerry is a Trinity freshman. Archie’s assignment to Jerry is
Jul 07, 2015 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
Mar 20, 2016 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
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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

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

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  Melissa Albert burst onto the YA scene (and catapulted into readers' hearts) with her 2018 debut The Hazel Wood. This darkly fantastical...
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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.” 65 likes
“Do I dare disturb the universe?

Yes, I do, I do. I think.

Jerry suddenly understood the poster--the solitary man on the beach standing upright and alone and unafraid, poised at the moment of making himself heard and known in the world, the universe.”
More quotes…