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Beyond the Chocolate War

Beyond the Chocolate War

4.5 10
by Robert Cormier

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The school year is almost at an end, and the chocolate sale is ancient history. But no one at Trinity School can forget the Chocolate War.
Devious Archie Costello, commander of the secret school organization called the Vigils, still has some torturous assignments to hand out before he graduates. In spite of this pleasure, Archie is troubled that his


The school year is almost at an end, and the chocolate sale is ancient history. But no one at Trinity School can forget the Chocolate War.
Devious Archie Costello, commander of the secret school organization called the Vigils, still has some torturous assignments to hand out before he graduates. In spite of this pleasure, Archie is troubled that his right-hand man, Obie, has started to move away from the Vigils. Luckily Archie knows his stooges will fix that. But Obie has some plans of his own.

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

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
810L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

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.

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
January 17, 1925
Date of Death:
November 2, 2000
Place of Birth:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Place of Death:
Leominster, Massachusetts
Fitchburg State College

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Beyond the Chocolate War 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not yet finished with the book but its really good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good book i recoommande it to sixth through eight grade students it always kept me one the edge of my seat
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.