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Beyond the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Beyond The Chocolate War, an equally controversial and crude yet insightful and real novel as it’s predecessor The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier is a novel that is as foreboding and dark as his other novels are such as Fade and The Rag and Bone Shop. Beyond The chocolate War explores themes of the darkness of the human race and the irony of life that many readers have come to enjoy from the late writer’s many works of fiction.

This novel continues where The Chocolate War left off. No, it does not start exactly from Obie and Archie’s final scene but instead starts a few months later near the end of the school year: “The school year is almost at an end, and the chocolate sale is past history but no one at Trinity School can forget The Chocolate War.”. Everyone hasn’t forgot about Jerry Renaults, the rebel freshman refusing to sell the chocolate during Trinity high’s mandatory chocolate sale, and how the Vigil’s, Trinity’s secret society, organized a fight between Emile Janza, a large jock, and Jerry that resulted in Jerry being seriously injured. Trinity however was forced to get over the Chocolate war and focus on other things as Archie, Obie and Carter prepare to graduate.

Many people who enjoyed The Chocolate War will be happy to learn Archie Costello is still up to his cruel psychological games as the ‘assigner’ of the Vigils, the Vigils are still an unspoken of, omnipotent threat. There are however a few changes at Trinity; Obie has a girl friend and no longer has time to be Archie’s right hand man, Jerry no longer attends Trinity after the events of the previous semester and most surprising of all there is some one willing to stand up to the great and powerful Archie Costello.
Beyond The Chocolate War includes many more plot turns than the first book such as Carter and possibly Obie (you have to read the book to find out of this true) plotting the demise of Archie’s last assignment of his high school career. The plot gets even more interesting from there with the return of Jerry Renault but sometimes the plot turns gets a little too much especially towards the end of the novel where everything is happening all at once. The quick and complicated plot twist make the novel interesting for a while but like The Chocolate War it just makes the story confusing after a while but all the lovers of Robert Cormier books have to admit that’s what we love about his books the most: the more confusing the story is, the more we are drawn in. But it has to be said that this books was even a little too complicated for the most devout readers of his novels. All plot twist and unnecessary back-story, even more so than Cormier’s already extreme use of unneeded back-story in most of novels, takes away from the main focus of the novel, which is the future of the Vigils and Trinity as a whole after Archie graduates. And trust, no believe that Vigils and Trinity are in trouble thanks to Archie Costello himself.

Along with the unnecessary back-story and confusing plot changes comes another continuous fault in most of Robert Cormier’s novels: his uses of ambiguous and metaphoric dialogue. His novels fall into the category of reality but taken to the extreme and so does the dialogue and that is what makes Beyond The Chocolate War unconvincing and somehow convincing at the same time. It is hard to believe that a high school student would give such an ambiguous answer as “An interesting offer” to a simple question and that is what makes the book even more believable. The dialogue is full of so many contradictions that it becomes hard to believe that the book is not real. The contradictions match the real world to a tee.

Beyond The Chocolate War is definitely among Robert Cormier’s many hits. It is so full mistakes that fall on the ‘first time writer’s don’t list’ but somehow that is exactly what makes the novel so great. Combined the crude and realistic writing and morbid portrayal of humanity as a whole it is no wonder the Sequel is so wonderful. No one could have written a better sequel if they tried for a thousand years. Beyond The Chocolate War is one of those rare stories, the come around every once in a while, that obviously could not have been made any better. And the true wonder of the book is the fact that things have certainly changed at Trinity and yet no matter how much they change they always remain the same.



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Heat6 said...
Aug. 25, 2012 at 1:01 am:
Well-written and very knowledgeable review. 
 
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