Beyond the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Trinity High and the Vigils struggle to pick up the pieces after the fallout from the chocolate sale stunt, but when Vigils secretary Obie discovers that new student and loner Ray has a working guillotine, he sets in motion a plan for revenge.

Beyond the Chocolate War is even darker than The Chocolate War–yes, it’s possible. Yet it lacks the raw power of the first, namely because the Vigils, so creepy in the first, are now old hat. Archie’s deviousness isn’t so startling, and Janza’s brutishness no longer terrifies. And there’s nothing in this sequel to compare with what Cormier created in Brother Eugene’s room–referenced several times here as if to invoke the same atmosphere of unease and dread. It doesn’t happen.

And thus concludes a walk down memory lane with Robert Cormier. These are books that seduced me as a middle schooler but whose power has waned now that I’m an adult.

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