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review 2017-06-03 18:54
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier

Genre: School / Conformity / Controversial

Year Published: 1974

Number of Pages: 272 pages

Date Read: 8/30/2010   

Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf




Series: The Chocolate War #1




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 one of the most memorable banned books ever written!

Oh my goodness! When I first heard about this book, I thought it was simply going to be about a group of kids fighting over who should eat the chocolates. But then, when I got around to reading this book, I realized that this book was all about the cruelties of the world such as manipulating various students into selling chocolates, even if you do not want to sell the chocolates and the consequences if you step out of line from the rest of the student body. Robert Cormier has certainly done an excellent job at making this book extremely disturbing and dark as he cleverly builds up tension around Jerry Renault’s defiance against selling the chocolates at the chocolate sale. The true highlights of this book were the characters themselves as they are realistic in personalities that you would normally see at any high school. Jerry Renault plays the underdog hero in this book as he tries to defend his stance in not selling the chocolates since he believes everyone has the right to do what you think is right and as it happens to every hero, he goes through so much hardship and danger when he defies the rules of Trinity. I find myself liking Jerry so much in this book since he tries hard to defend his rights, even if the other students do not believe in him and I love the idea that people will try to defend themselves when they believe that the activities set for them are not right for them. Some other interesting characters in this book are Archie Costello, the leader of the Vigils and Brother Leon. You will never know a truly terrible villain in any book until you read about what Brother Leon and Archie Costello has done to so many people in this book. Both Brother Leon and Archie Costello are truly frightening characters as they use manipulation and cruelty to get what they want from the school, to the point of using violence to get what they want.

Some people might have a problem with this book as it is extremely dark and disturbing and there is also extreme violence in this book, especially towards of the end of the book and that might not sit too well with people who do not like violence. Another problem that most people might have with this book is the language as this book has strong language and many people might be sensitive about such strong language being used. Probably, the reason why this book is dark and disturbing is because it was told from a villain’s point of view, which is either Archie or Brother Leon and in most books or movies that are told from a villain’s perspective of the world are usually dark and disturbing (well, except for certain movies or books where the villain is a bumbling fool and the story is more like a comedy or dark comedy rather than a horror story, like the cartoon series “Invader Zim” for example, where the story is told from a villain’s point of view, but is still hilarious to watch.

Invader Zim

Now for the reason why “The Chocolate War” was banned in so many schools. “The Chocolate War” was one of the most banned books in history because of its strong profanity, some sexual discussions, extreme violence, and the theme of bribery and manipulation being used in a negative way (that is a lot of reasons, is it not?) However, I did enjoy this book because of the original and exciting plot, even though it felt like the ending was a bit “incomplete” meaning that so much more could have been said about the event that concluded the book. Hopefully, the sequel, “Beyond the Chocolate War,” might conclude this book more properly, so that is definitely one of the books that are worth checking out. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading books from the villain’s point of view and love reading banned books.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog



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review 2016-03-12 04:15
I Am the Cheese
I Am the Cheese - Robert Cormier

This is going to be a very short review because everything about this book is a spoiler. Even the title is a spoiler.


Adam is on a mission to bring his father a gift in the hospital, but the only way he can get there is by bicycle. As he peddles through small New England towns, he remembers the event that destroyed his family and led to him spending time in a mental hospital. Half of this book is told in interviews between Adam and his doctor. The other half is about Adam’s journey to visit his father.


I was eager to read this novel because The Chocolate War was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I also really like Robert Cormier’s short stories. I Am the Cheese was first published in 1977. It’s a classic of young adult literature and a must-read for fans of the genre. Like the author’s other works, this one is unapologetically depressing. Adam has some serious mental health issues. Even he doesn’t understand how serious they are. The book has a few twists at the end that probably took a lot of bravery for the author to write. I love the twists, but many readers will find them disappointing. This book is full of ambiguity and unreliable characters.


I’m glad that this book helped pave the way for other realistic books about mental health. Some of the ideas about mental health may be outdated, but it’s still an important book. Adam is a sweet kid who loves his family, but his life starts going downhill after he discovers family secrets that put them in danger and keep them on the run. None of the characters in this book can be trusted, not even the narrator.


The interview chapters are a bit dry and info-dumpish. I was always happy to get back to the chapters about Adam on the bike. I wish that the interview chapters had either been developed more or left vaguer. Even though the book is a quick read, I found them slightly boring.


On Adam’s journey, he experiences betrayal and fear, uncertainty and isolation. He has a very unusual life, but he’s still a relatable character. I enjoyed reading his story.

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review 2014-12-29 22:40
The Chocolate War
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier

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 published in 1974, Robert Cormier's groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic. (source)

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review 2014-10-29 01:07
The Chocolate War
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier

The chocolate war is one of the most banned books among school libraries.  However the book's themes, plot, and insight to the teenage boys' psyche is what has made this book relevant among young adult readers for almost 40 years. Freshman Jerry Renault has accepted his first assignment as part of the Vigils by accepting the task of refusing to participate in the school chocolate sale for 10 days. Every day when his name is called he is expected to announce the number of boxes sold. His classmates' anticipation builds as each day the wait to for his announcement. On the eleventh day, Jerry surprises the Vigils by continuing to refuse the chocolate sale.This upsets Archie, one of the leaders, because Jerry has not complied with the Vigil's assignment. However, Archie does not take immediate action, but he will make sure that Jerry participates in the biggest most successful chocolate sale the school has ever had. Jerry becomes the target of his classmates' bullying and is physically aggravated for his defiance. The book's protagonist is forced to participate in a boxing match, therefore participating in the chocolate sale. As a result Jerry learns that life isn't always fair, and that standing up for your beliefs does not always provide you with the best results.


Cormier, R. (1974). The chocolate war. NY: Delacorte. 

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review 2014-09-09 13:01
Tenderness - Robert Cormier

Oy.  This book was just... ugh.  This is one of those cases with classics (or modern classics) (or any books) where I appreciate what the author was trying to do, but I just did. not. like it.  The male main character was hard to read about as he recalled all the animals he killed in his youth.  The female character was easier to stomach.  But ultimately, this book had no point.  It was over before any real meaning could be taken from it.


Such a disappointment.

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