Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Chocolate War (Chocolate War #1), by Robert Cormier

Barnes & Noble

Stunned by his mother's recent death and appalled by the way his father sleepwalks through life, Jerry Renault, a New England high school student, ponders the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe?

Part of his universe is Archie Costello, leader of a secret school society--the Virgils--and master of intimidation.  Archie himself is intimidated by a cool, ambitious teacher into having the Virgils spearhead the annual fund-raising event--a chocolate sale.  When Jerry refuses to be bullied into selling chocolates, he becomes a hero, but his defiance is a threat to Archie, the Virgils, and the school.  In the inevitable showdown, Archie's skill at intimidation turns Jerry from hero to outcast, to victim, leaving him alone and terribly vulnerable.

If I had read this book a few years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of a group of kids excluding a single student.  But times have changed--or social media is allowing for more publicized accounts--and this book is highly relevant in today's culture.

Even though it's relevant, I didn't like it.  Teenagers who torment their fellow classmates.  Adults who turn a blind eye or encourage such actions.  Kids who don't stand up for their friends.

Throughout the book, I expected a certain outcome, and I'm disappointed in the one that was delivered instead.  Not that it's the wrong ending, but it's not what I wanted; it left me feeling like there was something missing.  There is a sequel, and maybe that answers some of my niggling questions, but I have no desire to read the second book.


  1. Nice, quick little review. The paragraph outlining why you didn't like it shoves it right onto my "probably not" pile. I don't like when friends don't stick up for friends and adults pretend like they don't see what's happening right in front of them. I know it occurs, but I don't like it at all.

    Erin @ YA Book Crush

    1. I know, right? Just because it happens doesn't mean that I'm okay with it. And there are much better coming-of-age books out there.