Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I grew up in the next town over from where Robert Cormier lived. They were nothing towns. We went to the same college. It was a nothing college. But here was this writer with a famous book from my neighborhood! Sooner or later I had to read this.
The Chocolate War is about boys at an all-boys Catholic prep school forming cliques and getting their kicks by kicking the shit out of their fellow students mentally and physically. This could've been an English novel.
Cormier does an excellent job at capturing the hell and ridiculousness that is high school: the plot revolves around selling chocolates and yet, there will be blood. Honestly, Cormier did too good a job capturing the least favorite part of my life. Don't get me wrong, while I came in for my fair share of abuse in high school, I wasn't overtly targeted. And still, I loathed those days. The petty fights over the stupidest shit, the condescension of the
The Chocolate War is not a bad book. My three-star rating might've been a four. It was see-sawing between the two. But I went with three, because the writing is mostly solid and great in spots. The plot is okay, but it lacks the grab-ya quality needed to sustain the tension and tease out the suspense through out. Teen angst only holds my interest for so long. When I sat back after finishing, I saw I'd read a competent book that had moved me a little, but one that I would soon move on from.
I can't see this being added to anyone's all-time favorites list, so why is it so popular? Well, this is one of those lucky books that was originally written for adults, but got picked up by a lot of kids, so it was moved from the regular fiction section to the young adults section....and then the "authorities" were alerted to the fact that naughty things happen in the book and so they banned it, thus ensuring its everlasting fame and that more kids would read it than probably would've otherwise. Good work, dumbass authority!
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