25 May 2009

The Chocolate War and Beyond ......

The Chocolate War and Beyond The Chocolate War By Robert Cromier.

The Chocolate War - New boy Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolates for Trinity School's annual fundraiser. This small act of defiance starts a chain reaction, exposing the corruption running through the school and starting an all out war with the Vigils, the school's secret society. there is only one solution, but who will survive?

Beyond The chocolate War - In the terrifying aftermath of The Chocolate War, the Vigils are now more powerful than ever. But the cruelty of their leader, Archie,has made him enemies and now they seek their revenge.

A double dose of 'chocolate' in one book, what could be better?

Though this edition contains the two books, both are deeply interwoven with the events portrayed in The Chocolate War being integral to the story that is Beyond The Chocolate War, I would strongly suggest that the reader treat it as one. However, for the sake of this review I will tackle each book as an individual piece.

THE CHOCOLATE WARS, though set in an all boys Catholic school and involving the selling of twenty thousand boxes of out of date Mother's Day chocolates ("Beautiful boxes, beautiful chocolates and in perfect condition. They've been stored under the best of conditions since last spring. All we have to do is remove the purple ribbons that say ' mother' and we're in business.") at two dollars each, this novel somehow reminded me of 'Lord Of The Flies'.

At only 209 pages long and aimed largely at a much younger audience of older teenagers , I read this novel in record time and though I can't say I exactly enjoyed it, I did find it extremely interesting.

Aimed, in my opinion, to appeal more to boys, I couldn't really identify with any of the characters though, sadly, I did 'recognise' one or two. What was interesting to me was how certain characters within the school community were portrayed as going from having subtle feelings of indifference, resentment and hostility through to carrying out acts of intimidation, verbal abuse and, finally, actual physical violence. All in all quite brutal.

BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE WAR, like it's predecessor, is both dark and full of often unspoken malice though, with the inclusion of a major female character (there were none of note in the first book), events take an even more sinister turn. Much more intense, this novel is more psychological, full of teenage angst and seething anger.

With the desire for revenge so great, the climax, which begins with a simple act of deception, when it comes is both shocking, surprising and nothing short of chilling. a much better read then 'The Chocolate War', this has a real twist in it's tail which will leave you pondering on the actions of the characters, their values and morals.

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