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Publisher's Summary

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.
©1974 Robert Cormier; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Superb in every way

I have friends who swoon at the late Frank Muller's voice; I've usually found him to be overeager. But I can't imagine anyone else reading this one.

"Chocolate War" is an elegantly written book. I especially like the moments when a bit of exposition suddenly makes you hit rewind while saying, "What was that?" because a significant plot point has suddenly, unexpectedly been laid in your lap.

This tale of a Roman Catholic boy's school is a sort of American "Lord of the Flies." It's about courage, cruelty, control and the chaos that occurs when the people who are supposed to be in charge just don't care. By turns amusing and appalling, I found it absolutely riveting.

A highlight is the introduction by the author. The worst part was the replacement of the usual "This is Audible" with four-year-old voices chanting "Audible Kids."

This is NOT a "kid's book." This is extraordinarily well-crafted fiction written for, and about, young people. Many parents need to hear it to understand that the occasional anachronisms in the story do not mean these issues have been left in the past.

Thanks, Robert. Thanks, Frank. Outstanding job.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fell flat of my expectations

This book had so much potential. I liked the idea of a kid who went against the grain, despite all the peer pressure. Robert Cormier's writing was beautiful and poetic. But the story never left the ground. The opening scene shows you the school bullies plotting some scheme that has danger written all over it. Then you meet Jerry and think, "Oh, there he is. He's going to do something great." There's all this anticipation and then nothing happens. Nothing. They don't even announce the chocolate sales until halfway through the book. I could see right away Cormier's flaw in developing the story. In the intro, Cormier explains that the idea for Chocolate War came when his own son refused to sell chocolates. Unfortunately, that made the author too attached to his characters. So much so, that he refused to let them suffer. The bullies, instead of being violent and dangerous, had a "no violence" policy. Huh? If they don't beat anyone up, where's the threat? Jerry was represented as a great hero. But he didn't do anything except say "no" when his name was called. No one pressured him. No one threatened him. He just said no. There was a little violence toward the end, but by that time, it seemed forced and out of place. It was also too brief. I was pretty disappointed, because, as I said, Cormier had a great talent with words. He could have made this story monumental if he'd have just released the apron strings.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Middle School 8th Grade

What made the experience of listening to The Chocolate War the most enjoyable?

My Pre-Ap 8th grade students were amazed by this book because we went over why it is often challenged . The voice actor is phenomenal. He captures the personality of each character remarkably.

What did you like best about this story?

The complex nature of Archie and The Vigils, Jerry, The Goober, and Brother Leon make this an awesome read. All characters displayed very humanistic qualities...hedonistic, frightening personalities, manipulative, humorous, etc.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to name. I would say all scenes involving Archie were page turners. He is such a dark character. Almost surreal how manipulative he is for such a young person.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If possible, yes! However, we studied over a course of a month and a half.

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true view of the world

dark and entertaining look into manipulation, true view of the world. upsetting, descriptive, enthralling. not just relatable to young adults and a current adaptation would go over well

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I can see why this is a classic.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Chocolate War to be better than the print version?

I didn't read the print version but the audio was FANTASTIC.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Chocolate War?

When brother Leon and Archie have it out. And then again at the end during the... end. That's all I can say without spoilers.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book sent me through the emotional wringer. I laughed, cried, got furious, got hopeful, just... all the feels. I can see why it is a classic. It is a YA book, and a rather simple plot, but the dynamics of the characters and subtle yet in your face social commentary was stunning.

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where is the rest on the book. I wanted to listen to the whole book.. it stops at chapter 8

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Well-written, but not redeeming.

A little redemption in the end would've been nice. Nice reminder good doesn't always triumph.

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  • Felicia
  • Tampa, FL, United States
  • 11-10-13

Didn't like it.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Probably a younger person may enjoy this book better.

Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Cormier again?

I am not sure.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Frank Muller?

I'm not sure

What character would you cut from The Chocolate War?

Brother Leon.

Any additional comments?

I just really couldn't get into this book. Although, I listened it just didn't make me feel like I was a part of the story.

  • Overall
  • Graham
  • 02-26-05

Been a long time since I saw this book...

This is a very good book. I read it when I was about 13 or so (I don't believe it is a young adults father had me reading adult stuff at a pretty young age), there is also a movie. I have not listened to in on audible but the book is great. It really brings you into his world and you can feel the torment he goes through. I really enjoyed it. If you liked the movie "The Power of One", with Morgan Freeman, this has the same feel; a boy, alone, struggling and some boxing. All in all I would have to say that I loved the book...I might just order it on audible some day.

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

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I enjoyed this book

I enjoyed this book even though it was for my English class!
So I thank the author! Thank you!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful