Sunday, April 2, 2017

[BOOK REVIEW] The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Title:  The Chocolate War

Author:  Robert Cormier

Genre: School / Conformity / Controversial

Year Published: 1974

Number of Pages:
272 pages

Date Read:

Alfred A. Knopf

Series: The Chocolate War #1

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Some Strong Language, Violence, Some Sexual Discussions, and Themes of Bribery and Distortion)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

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.

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.

* 1979 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

 REASON FOR BEING BANNED: For heavy use of profanity, sexual references and references to bribery, distortion and physical violence


  1. I remember this being mentioned by my sister as one of her favorite books that she read in high school, so your review has made me quite curious. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! :)

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. You're welcome! I read it mainly because it was on the banned books list.