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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
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