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The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, #1)
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The Chocolate War Discussion > Final thoughts

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message 1: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
Now that you are finished what did you think? Would you recommend it to others? How do you feel about our group reading another book that people try to get banned. Some of the reasons people try to ban it is because they objected to profanity in the book — by one parent's count there are 171 swear words — as well as a scene about masturbation.

Amber | 34 comments I Did not like this book at all. I had to force myself to finish it just because I hate leaving books unfinished and my book club was reading it.

After reading this cynical and dark story I need to go find something light, fun and easy to read just so I can wash this book out of my brain. Don't waste your time. Read something better

It somewhat brought back a back flash of the pressure of selling girls scout cookies.

Liana | 5 comments I also felt a bit weighed down after reading this book, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely needed some light reading after I was done. I enjoyed it. I think that it is sad that it is on the many banned book lists, I guess people can't take the idea of following your own path and not being a sheep.

Anna I wouldn't say I liked the book, but it definitely has relevance in terms of human nature. I didn't really notice the profanity as the cruelty was so vivid to me. I think it is a good discussion book for teens as it can lead to conversation about peer pressure and the abuse of power. One of my first loves died due to a drug overdose partially as a result of abuse at the hands of an adult figure so reading the book brought back those memories.

Do you think this type of abuse is more/less tolerated in today's society?

Liana | 5 comments I definitely think that this kind of cruelty exists today. I graduated almost ten years ago from high school which is not so long ago. I saw children fight each other, throw things at each other and say horrendous things about each other, for no reason other than the joy of making another human being feel horrible. This book frightened me because it felt so realistic, I can visualize the people I went to school with that had the ability to be this cruel.

message 6: by Jen (last edited Feb 05, 2009 02:21PM) (new) - added it

Jen (jbsquared) | 3 comments The dark vibe of this book is totally not what I was expecting. I don't know why I thought it would be some kind of uplifting book about individuality and standing your ground, but it turned out to be so depressing. I don't know, it just didn't speak to me. I have two real complaints about the book overall:

First, after "digesting" it for several days, I still can't figure out what the author's point was. Was he just trying to show that some people are cruel for cruelty's sake? He didn't seem to have a message, other than "mean people stink", which seems pretty obvious (do we really need a book to tell us that?) I can't decide which characters he was condemning and which he was condoning. Although Archie was clearly evil, he never got any come-uppance and was universally considered to be a brilliant, even admired person. I understand that the author wanted to comment on the horrible things the human mind is capable of, but I just didn't see a clearly defined position on right vs. wrong, human nature, or anything else. What I got out of reading this book is "boy, the world sure is a junky place" but certainly no new insight.

Secondly, what's with all the crass talk about womens' bodies and what young men do behind closed doors? It just bugged me. It's a pet peeve of mine when people try to throw in random things they think will shock people, just to try to be "gritty and real." It just seemed so overboard with the foul references. I guess I don't see that as "real" - maybe I'm naive, though. Do teenage boys really act like that? I never was one, but I like to think that most don't. And at any rate, it certainly didn't add anything useful to the story.

I can't say I really liked this book. The concept had potential, but I've seen the same idea carried out much more effectively in other books - Lord of the Flies, for example, or The Wave. I guess I would have liked it better if Jerry had ANY point at all in not selling the chocolates, or even if he could have identified any possible reason that he didn't want to. How can you have a hero that is motivated by nothing more than "uh, I just don't wanna." Not very inspiring.

Well, sorry for the long post. I'm overly opinionated, I know. :)

alisonwonderland (Alison) | 30 comments i listened to this book on CD last fall. i posted a review on my blog in december. this is one of the things i said:

Although I found parts of the novel to have been brilliantly conceived - particularly the idea that something as banal as chocolate could be the cause of so much violence - the whole thing just didn't come together for me. I wanted to go away with some new insight or having been changed in some way. That just didn't happen.

message 8: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen (jbsquared) | 3 comments Thank you, allisonwonderland. That's just what I was trying to convey (although you said it better and much, much shorter!) :)

message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (michelle_sutton) | 5 comments Well I am glad I didn't read this book. I hate stories that leave me feeling like there is no hope. That is NOT motivating. I need to read something that makes me want to believe that things can change. Otherwise it's a huge bummer. I read a book that was depressing all the way through and included sexual abuse and at the end the last line was..."And then I knew I was next." I wanted to toss the book at the wall. I won't read books like that anymore. I see enough sick stuff in this world with my job. I like dark books if they have hope. But if they have no hope they are wall banger books, IMHO. :)

message 10: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
It seems like most everyone did not like the book at all!

message 11: by Amber (last edited Feb 09, 2009 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Amber | 34 comments This weekend one of the movie stations on cable. Ran a movie called The Chocolate War. Yep! the same story that we just read. I had nothing better to do, so I watched it. The movie was worst than the book. Don't waste your time.

message 12: by Jenny (new) - rated it 1 star

Jenny (jennycjensen) | 5 comments I just finished the book last night and I must say that it was a book I couldn't wait to finish, not because I wanted to know how it ended, but because I wanted it so badly to end so I could move on and read something else.
I whole heartedly agree with Jen and Alisonwonderland's posts. Countless times I asked myself "what's the point?" I didn't feel like the author did a very good job of articulating that. I also felt like the book just ended and while I was glad to be finished, it kind of left me thinking "what? that's it?".
Not a favorite, I wouldn't recommend it. I think the author could've taken this topic and made and great story and instead it's just blah.

message 13: by Zen (new)

Zen (zentea) Why does everyone dislike this book? I think it is a great piece of art and social commentary. I fail to see how this is not akin to the (admittedly lighter) book Stargirl.

Dream | 1 comments This was one of the first "dark" books I remember reading when I was younger, and for that reason I actually liked this book. I don't know now that I'd read it again, or even that I would have read it again after I'd first read it, but I feel it's an important book to introduce very difficult ideas of conformity and peer pressure.

message 15: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn Zen wrote: "Why does everyone dislike this book? I think it is a great piece of art and social commentary. I fail to see how this is not akin to the (admittedly lighter) book [b:Stargirl|22232|Stargirl|Jerry..."

I totally agree, Zen (though I haven't read "Stargirl" yet), but I thought the "Chocolate War" was brilliant and I actually gave it five stars. I read it through so quickly, it really engrossed me.

The idea of conformity and what peer pressure can do to people frightens me immensely and the book left me with that feeling of how dangerous it can be when people stand up and don't conform (even when they don't know why they're doing it as Jerry seemed to, at least in the beginning). I also found it very realistic what the bullying did to The Goober, who didn't seem to be able to cope at all with what was going on.

But I think what I got from "Chocolate War" was this sense (once again) of how dangerous power is, especially when it's condoned from up high (i.e. Archie and The Vigils' actions condoned by Brother Leon).It actually made me angry because you can see it all around you and, thus, I found the book quite realistic (or as Zen says, a great social commentary).

Also, perhaps the book didn't speak to many people because it was published some thirty years ago, and the ideas (conformity, peer pressure, corruption, power) have been picked up again and again since then? Just a thought.

I didn't find the level of profanity too bad, and I normally don't like any swearing; some scenes were, of course, a bit gross and I would definitely think about who I'd recommend the book too (I can totally see why the book would have been banned thirty years ago - though these days it's probably not that big a deal anymore).

Sorry for the long post - hope I didn't ramble too much. :)

Tee27 I have mixed feelings about The Chocolate War. On the one hand, I thought it had great similes and fairly realistic characters. I also like the fact that I was able to get into the thoughts of The Vigils. Doing so made me realize that even "bad people" have compassion too. Unfortunately, their actions contadicted their feelings.
On the other hand, however, for reasons I can't fully explain, I thought the book was a bit boring.

Celestasaurus Tee27, I totally agree! I thought the book's plot was great, but I just couldn't get into it. I guess it just lacked that addictive quality.

Katie Verhaeren | 12 comments I agree with the previous two posts. The concept behind the book was really interesting; however, when all's said and done its not a book I would recommend for reading enjoyment. I just don't see what the fuss is one way or another. I don't think it (or most any book) should be banned, and I like the idea of looking at more banned books, but I've heard people talk about how much they LOVE this book and I just don't get that either. Ah well.

Elaine (readingrat) | 24 comments I was pretty middle of the road on this book. It wasn't a bad story, I just had a hard time buying into some of the important concepts the author needs the reader to accept - which probably kept me from enjoying it more.

message 20: by Todd (last edited Feb 22, 2009 07:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Todd (dannychamp) | 4 comments I thought this book was amazing and I give it to many of my 8th grade boys (and some girls) to read. Archie is a fascinating villain and the complexity and ambiguity of each character brings a realism that is missing from so many YA books. The dark tone will work for some and not others but we're talking about corruption, betrayal and power here, people. If you're going to grapple with these very relevent-to-our times ideas, it's gonna be dark! I'm struck with the lack of substantiation (is that a word?) in many of the comments above. An awful lot of people don't like the book but can't say why. If it rubs you the wrong way and you don't know why, it's worth thinking about.

message 21: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I just finished the book. I found it was a fast read! I didn't dislike it like a lot of other people. I was disappointed in the ending. I REALLY didn't like not knowing about what happened to people. What happened to the school? What happened to Jerry? Too many questions we were left with.

I felt like I kept waiting for the school to rally behind Jerry. Only ONE person, Goober, was on his side? And none of the other teachers noticed or chose to do anything about the Vigils? That was one of the things that bothered me about the book was that the WHOLE school seemed to be in on being evil.

So other than not knowing what happened to people I really enjoyed the book. I did think sometimes it bounced between characters in the same chapter too many times. But otherwise I could've read it in one day had I not been out of town, I myself couldn't put it down!

message 22: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn Angie wrote: "I just finished the book. I found it was a fast read! I didn't dislike it like a lot of other people. I was disappointed in the ending. I REALLY didn't like not knowing about what happened to p..."

Hi Angie,

actually, not knowing what happened to the school or people bothered me a bit too. However, I've since found out that there is a sequel Beyond the Chocolate War, which I've been meaning to read for some weeks now (still haven't touched it but really want to pick it up now :) ).

I didn't so much mind that the entire school was "against" Jerry, I thought it was quite a powerful way of showing how extensive the abuse of power and control can be and what extremes it can reach. To me it was all encapsulated in the substitute headmaster's exercise of power/control (what was his name again? Brother Leon?) and his ultimate failure as a role model in any sense.

message 23: by Brookie (new)

Brookie | 17 comments Michelle wrote: "Well I am glad I didn't read this book. I hate stories that leave me feeling like there is no hope. That is NOT motivating. I need to read something that makes me want to believe that things can ch..."

I know how you feel about throwing books against walls. One book I read, the whole book was horrible, then things started getting better. Then, the worst thing in the world happened, and on the last page, the main character says she's going to kill everyone. ??What the heck?? I threw the book on the ground, and stomped on it. :)

message 24: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Angie | 2686 comments Mod
I think we have all felt this way!

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