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Beyond the Chocolate War

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Overview

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.

Devious Archie Costello, commander of the secret school organizationcalled the Virgils, stall has some torturous assignments to hand out before he graduates.  In spite of this pleasure, Archie is troubled by his right-hand man, Obie, who has started to move away from the Virgils.  Luckily Archie knows his stooges ...

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Overview

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.

Devious Archie Costello, commander of the secret school organizationcalled the Virgils, stall has some torturous assignments to hand out before he graduates.  In spite of this pleasure, Archie is troubled by his right-hand man, Obie, who has started to move away from the Virgils.  Luckily Archie knows his stooges will fix that.  But won't Archie be shocked when he discovers the surprise Obie has waiting for him?

And there are surprises waiting for others.  The time for revenge has come to those boys who secretly suffered the trials of Trinity.  The fuse is set for the final explosion.  Who will survive?

Dark deeds continue at Trinity High School, climaxing in a public demonstration of one student's homemade guillotine. Sequel to "The Chocolate War."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Robert Cormier has written a brilliant sequel, more finely crafted, denser in plotting, and more subtle in character nuance than at his debut ten years ago as a YA author.  Beyond the Chocolate War is a Newberry Medal candidate-if not the hands-down winner."-Children's Book Review Service

"No one has read Robert Cormier's young adult novel The Chocolate War can forget the anguish of that fight under the spotlights at the Trinity School...Mr. Cormier is almost unique in his powerful integration of the personal, politcal, and moral.  Beyond the Chocolate War is very much a sequel."-The New York Times Book Review

"Readers will be riveted to this suspensful novel...After reading this sequel readers will probably demand to read its predecessor if they haven't already read it.  The best of Cormier's highly acclaimed novels..."-Voice of Youth Advocates

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440905806
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/1986
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 219,407
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.36 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier has written several highly acclaimed novels for young adults and received numerous awards, including the ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.  Mr. Cormier lives in Leonminster, Massachusetts.

Biography

With The Chocolate War, an unsparing story of corruption and brutal vengeance at a Catholic boys’ school, Robert Cormier turned what had been the sunny world of young adult fiction upside down. The book launched Cormier on a highly successful and often controversial career, in which he tackled the darker issues of adolescence and American suburban life.

Like the anonymously authored Go Ask Alice in 1975, an at times harrowing story of drug abuse for young adult readers, the Chocolate War – and others of the author’s books -- ran into trouble with parent groups who found the writer’s subject matter inappropriate and his approach too explicit. (According to Herb Fostal’s Banned in the USA, The Chocolate War was fifth on a list of the most frequently banned books in American public libraries and schools in the 1990s.)

Reviewers, however, praised his writing. A journalist for much of his life, Cormier balanced his characters’ grim situations with a deft, vivid, lyrical style. Reviewing The Chocolate War, a critic for The New York Times Book Review described it as “masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity.” When it came to themes, Cormier was unromantic and unflinching. In I Am the Cheese, Cormier evoked the uneasy and elusive world of a boy whose father has testified against organized criminals; in The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, the story pivots around terminally ill teenagers; in Tenderness Cormier introduced a serial killer and a sexually manipulative teenage girl. “Every topic is open, however shocking,” he told a reporter for The Guardian in November of 2000, in what would be one of his last interviews. “It’s the way the topics are handled that’s important.” In Cormier’s world there are no easy answers and few happy endings, but there is extraordinary insight into the world of adolescence: the cruelties, the isolation, and the often-bruising search for identity.

Despite his reputation as a disturber of the literary peace, Cormier was a small-town writer, who spent nearly his entire life working as a journalist for the Fitchburg Sentinel in Massachusetts; he published a memoir of his career in 1991 titled I Have Words to Spend: Reflections of a Small-Town Editor. In addition to four novels for adults, Cormier wrote one last novel for young adults, Frenchtown Summer, the story of a young teenager’s arrival in a new town told entirely in the boy’s poetry. He died on November 2, 2000.

Good To Know

Robert Cormier never lived more than three miles away from the house where he was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Cormier included his own phone number as that of one of the characters in I Am the Cheese, and wound up taking calls from thousands of teenagers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Fitch IV
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 17, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leominster, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      November 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Leominster, Massachusetts

Read an Excerpt

Ray Banister started to build the guillotine the day Jerry Renault returned to Monument.

There was no connection between the two events. In fact, Ray Bannister didn't even know Jerry Renault existed. The truth of the matter is that Ray began to construct the guillotine out of sheer boredom. More than boredom: loneliness, restlessness. He was a newcomer to Monument and to Trinity High. He hated both—well, maybe hate was too strong a word, but he found Monument to be a dull and ugly mill town of drab tenement houses and grim factories, with no class at all, a terrible contrast to Caleb, the resort village on Cape Cod where he'd grown up with beach sand between his toes and salt spray stinging his cheeks. Trinity was a suffocatingly small school, filled with guys who were suspicious of strangers or, at the very least, unfriendly. The Headmaster and the teachers were brothers, those strange people who wore stiff white collars but weren't quite priests and yet weren't quite like ordinary men. Ray's father insisted that brothers made the ideal teachers, dedicated and loyal to education. They have nothing to distract them, his father said. They don't have to worry about earning a big salary—the Order takes care of all their needs—and they don't' have wives or children to support, except maybe a girl friend or two in these crazy, liberal times. That last remark was supposed to pass for wit: Ray Bannister's father was renowned for his wit at cocktail parties, but Ray, frankly, didn't find him amusing at all. Particularly since he'd accepted the company promotion that meant a transfer from the Cape to this rotten city in the middle of New England.

Ray had always been a loner, even on the Cape, where he had spent long hours roaming the beaches and dunes or sailing his beloved skiff in the warm waters south of Caleb. In a fit of disgust and disillusionment, he'd practically given his boat away, sold it for a quarter of its worth to Joe Scerra, his best friend in Caleb. Ray had built the boat himself, lovingly, knew every section and area of its surface just as he knew the tone and texture of his own body.

Monument looked as if sailing weather didn't exist. Snow melted on the Cape as soon as it kissed the land; Ray was dismayed to find Monument covered with the dirty rags of old snow when he arrived in February. The landscape of city streets was bleak and forbidding, like a movie set from one of those old late-night films about the Depression. Lonely, unable to make friends at Trinity and not really trying very hard, Ray pursued his interest in magic. His father, who had been an amateur magician years ago, had given him a magic kit for Christmas as a kind of bribe to compensate for the transfer to Monument. At first Ray had only gone through the motions of showing interest. But, bored and restless, he began to fool around with the kit and found, to his surprise, that the tricks were not merely kid stuff but sophisticated and challenging, almost professional. He discovered the Stripper Deck and the Cups and Balls and the Silk Scarves and soon found himself adept at sleight of hand. With no one to entertain, he performed before the mirror in his bedroom.

As winter changed into spring or, rather, as the grayness of February and March yielded to the soft yellow of April, Ray grew bored with the simple finger tricks. He rummaged around the cellar, remembering that his father had all kinds of paraphernalia left over from his days as an entertainer at club and organization parties when Ray himself was just a kid. His father had carefully packed the stuff away when they had moved to Monument. During his search, Ray came across an old cardboard box that contained complicated tricks and effects he couldn't do anything with because there were no directions. Then he discovered an old leather-bound book, copyright 1922, that provided instructions for hundreds of magic effects. The book included plans and illustrations for various stage illusions, like levitation and disappearances. Ray was disappointed to learn the secrets of the illusions, how mechanical they were. He thought: There's no magic, really, anywhere in the world. It was like finding out there was no Santa Claus.

The plans for guillotine attracted his immediate attention, however. The secret was so simple and yet so effective. He imagined himself on the stage in the Trinity auditorium, performing for the student body—"May I have a volunteer from the audience?"—and hearing the guys gasp with astonishment as the blade fell, seeming to penetrate the volunteer's neck. Ray's hands itched to build the guillotine, just as they had itched to build his skiff. He'd always been clever with his hands. In fact, his father had said that he hated the idea of squandering money on Ray's college education when he'd probably do better as a carpenter—and a carpenter didn't need a college degree.

At any rate, lonely, indifferent to both Monument and Trinity, tired of the perennial gray clouds that haunted the early days of spring, wistful for those bikini girls who would be emerging on Caleb's beaches any day now, Ray Bannister assembled his tools and the lumber required to build the guillotine. He bought the blade at a magic store in Worcester. And, as he told Obie later: Honest, he'd never heard of Jerry Renault or Archie Costello or any of the others.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The narrator mentions that the Vigils are allowed to exist at Trinity because they keep the student body in control. At neighboring schools violence has broken out and bomb threats have been made, but not at Trinity. Still, most students agree that something is deeply wrong at the school. Why is Trinity so “creepy”? Which school situation do you think is better?

2. In what ways are Brother Leon and Archie similar or dissimilar? Why won’t people stand up to either of them?

3. Carter tries to stand up to Archie by writing to the corrupt headmaster. Obie tries to kill him. Neither of these plans works. How else could Archie be foiled? What do you think Archie’s greatest fear is?

4. Why does Jerry decide to go back to Trinity despite what has happened to him? What does he mean when he says, “You can look like a loser but don’t have to be one.” (p. 223) Are there other characters who obtain such a sense of freedom?

5. How did you feel at the end of this book? Sad? Angry? How do you think Cormier wants you to feel?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Robert Cormier managed to not only make a successful sequel, but

    Robert Cormier managed to not only make a successful sequel, but one that ended up, in my opinion, as an even better literary work than its predecessor. I love the nontraditional stance Cormier takes in this book, blurring the lines between protagonist and antagonist so much so that you're basically left rooting for whoever who please. It is a very psychological thriller underneath the Catholic school by premise, and it's a really great read for anyone interested.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    complicated and intresting..

    I'm not yet finished with the book but its really good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2010

    whoa.............

    This book is deep and isn't for everyone. Teens should definitely read it but should be mature enough to handle it cuz its alot ( 5x more than what was in the 1st book) when i read the 1st book in school i was drawn to Roberts honesty and psychological aspects of everyday life and social order which led me into reading Beyond the chocolate war. his characters are memorable and let you see into the minds of many different types of people. Everyone from suicidal straight A students to animal-like bullies. a must read for teens!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    This was a good book i recoommande it to sixth through eight grade students it always kept me one the edge of my seat

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    Even Better Than The First

    I was extremely excited to read this after reading The Chocolate War and finding it such an excellent book. This one I think I liked better. It has all the strong points of The Chocolate War, but a little something more. I think Robert Cormier has really got something here. Make sure you read the Chocolate War before reading this, it will only make it better. Beyond The Chocolate War is a MUST READ!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2003

    Beyond The Chocolate War

    Robert Cormier Beyond The Chocolate War Drama / Young Adult Fiction With the school year coming to an end and with the chocolate sale now behind them, there is nothing left for Archie Costello to do, commander of the dangerous school gang named the Vigils, Obie, though, has a plan to end Archie¿s leadership forever in the sequel to The Chocolate War. Robert Cormier did an excellent job pulling people into the story. It was as if you were there in Monument. All of his descriptions of characters were so clear you could see them standing next to you. You can picture yourself inside of one of the Vigils¿ meetings inside the boiler room with all the bodies sweating. You can picture yourself as Ray Bannister witnessing spring in Monument for the first time. Cormier wrote ¿Ray Bannister became aware of the beauty of an inland spring. Weeping willow trees he had never noticed before wore halos of soft yellow and the buds came to life.¿ Robert Cormier did an overall excellent job writing and creating this book. As I was reading I was reminded of a book I once read. The Outsiders also dealt with gangs and fighting. Although there wasn¿t a gang rivalry in Beyond the Chocolate War, there were still many of the same important themes such as friendship, relationships, and also guilt. To best interpret the story I used my visualizing skills. I visualized Trinity High and all of its students wearing shirts, ties, and laced or buckled shoes. Archie Costello, Obie, Carter, and other members or the dangerous Vigils were also vivid in my mind. To keep reading you have to sometimes read over some parts carefully so as to not miss any details or parts in the book. Another strategy I used was asking myself questions such as; why is Ray Bannister building a guillotine, and why is Obie so interested in it?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2002

    A Recommended book

    Beyond the Chocolate War is one of the best novels I have read. I recommended this book to some of my fellow classmates, telling them how wonderful of a book it is. I think everyone can relate to the leader of the Vigils, Archie. You should read this exciting novel that was written by Robert Cormier. Beyond the Chocolate War, Pages, 278.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2001

    From Ervin K. A 17 years old boy who just just finished the second book about the chocolates.

    I think this book is great. The first one was really good but then when u read the second one u just feel it inside of you, that beyond the chocolate war is even better. I have recomanded this book to 3 of my friends and they thanked me when thay were done, So i recomend to you too READ IT. YOU WILL LOVED. but read chocolate war 1 st and then BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE WAR. peace and have a nice day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2001

    Great Book

    Hey, I read this book for my freshman English class, and I have to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read. It is the sequal to The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. We get to learn what became of Archie, Obie, Jerry, and Br. Leon. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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