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The Chocolate War Paperback – September 14, 2004
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Does Jerry Renault dare to disturb the universe? You wouldn't think that his refusal to sell chocolates during his school's fundraiser would create such a stir, but it does; it's as if the whole school comes apart at the seams. To some, Jerry is a hero, but to others, he becomes a scapegoat--a target for their pent-up hatred. And Jerry? He's just trying to stand up for what he believes, but perhaps there is no way for him to escape becoming a pawn in this game of control; students are pitted against other students, fighting for honor--or are they fighting for their lives? In 1974, author Robert Cormier dared to disturb our universe when this book was first published. And now, with a new introduction by the celebrated author, The Chocolate War stands ready to shock a new group of teen readers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The Chocolate War is masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity."-The New York Times Book Review
"The characterizations of all the boys are superb... This novel [is] unique in its uncompromising portrait of human cruelty and conformity."-School Library Journal, starred review
"The novel is cleverly written with a good sense of the realistic and a good ear for dialouge, qualities which will attract any reader."-Bestsellers
"Robert Cormier has written a brilliant novel."-Children's Book Revie Service
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Top customer reviews
This is among the most realistic portrayals of life you will come across; meaning the individual who refuses to get in line will be subject to attack, cruelty, and injustice.
Many have called this a dark book; many ask why can't this book offer more hope?
I can only answer that the hero in this book puts everything on the line - everything! And he risks it all for an idea - the idea that the individual matters.
If that doesn't give you hope, then try something else.
The main message of this book is the quote that Jerry tapes on the inside of his locker, "Do I dare disturb the universe?" The setting of Jerry's situation is that no one has ever defied the Vigils, and everyone is under their secret but apparent control. When Jerry finally stands up to their rule, he is brought down and considered the villain among his peers. Robert Cormier uses this to describe the unfortunate reality of today's society. Individuality is put down, and anyone who dares to stand out runs the risk of being an outcast. There is a rulebook that we all follow; a secret code of conduct. If someone differs from this "law" that person suffers the consequences. Being that this is the main theme of the story, the book is not meant to be uplifting which is one thing I admire about the book. There is no "beating around the bush" or "sugarcoating" the story's message. I think the world needs more stories like this one to give people a look at the kind of reality we live in. I however, disliked the amount of cursing and unnecessary language in the book, which is the reason I gave this book four stars instead of five. The story could've portrayed the message just as well without the inappropriate language.
This is one of the reasons I would not recommend this book to people younger than 12 years of age. The story may be too harsh for younger people and may have a bad influence on their confidence and self esteem. However, I would highly recommend this book for mature teenagers and adults because of the powerful reality check it gives. It is very rich in depth and description; definitely a moving story. Another work that I would recommend is Robert Cormier's sequel Beyond the Chocolate War to see what awaits Archie and the Vigils before graduation at Trinity High School.
Although this story is told through several points of view, Jerry is the main character. He's a young man who recently lost his mother, has a distant father, and to top it off the Vigils embroil him in their nonsense. This story is gritty, particularly during the brutal bullying scenes. THE CHOCOLATE WAR is disturbing and made me uncomfortable at times, but it is a page turner.
The novel really does take you through the life of this young high school teen that joins the football team and then is bullied by a manipulative ruler classmate, of the school. I was surprised at how the story ends. I want to read the second part, but it was very hard to find and I guess its like over $20.00. I like the novel but I'm going to search for a cheaper sequel.
Overall, this book is worth reading.
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