Stunned by his mother's recent death and appalled by the way his father sleepwalks through life, Jerry Renault, a New England high school student, ponders the poster in his locker-Do I dare disturb the universe?
Part of his universe is Archie Costello, leader of a secret school societ-the Virgils-and master of intimidation. Archie himself is intimidated by a cool, ambitious teacher into having the Virgils spearhead the annual fund-raising event-a chocolate sale. When Jerry refuses to be bullied into selling chocolates, he becomes a hero, but his defiance is a threat to Archie, the Virgils, and the school. In the inevitable showdown, Archie's skill at intimidation turns Jerry from hero to outcast, to victim, leaving him alone and terribly vulnerable.
The Chocolate War is uncompromising and unsentimental. It is doubtful, and finally irrelevant, whether Mr Cormier was writing for adolescents or for adults, any more than William Golding was concerned with a specific audience as he wrote Lord of the Flies, with which this novel stands comparison (TES)
Getting inside the souls of adolescents seems to be Cormier's particular gift (Publishing Weekly)
From the Inside Flap
IN 1974, AFTER SUFFERING rejections from seven major publishers, "The Chocolate War made its debut. An uncompromising portrait of conformity and corruption, it quickly became a bestselling--and provocative--classic for young adults.
"Masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful."--"The New York Times Book Review
"The characterizations of all the boys are superb."--"School Library Journal, Starred
"Compellingly immediate. . . . Readers will respect the uncompromising ending."--"Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"An "ALA Best Books for Young Adults
"A School Library Journal "Best Books of the Year
"A Kirkus Reviews "Choice
"A New York Times "Outstanding Books of the Year
From the Back Cover
CAN ONE SMALL BOY DEFEAT THE MIGHT OF THE VIGILS?
Jerry's one of the best: honest, straightforward and hard working. He's just scraped into the football team at his new school, and things are looking good.
Then he meets Archie, leader of the Vigils, the school Mafia. Archie can see straight away that Jerry's not going to fit in with the Vigils – and if you're not in with them, you're very definitely OUT.
Jerry wants to be out when the school sale comes round. Who says he has to sell chocolates? But Archie's help has been enlisted by one of the masters, and Archie has his reputation to uphold. Jerry MUST conform…
"A quick-firing journalistic exposure of the more atrocious processes of growing up. Can't happen here? It can and it does. Daily."