external image 044090580X.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgBeyond the Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
Bantam Doubleday 1985
278 pages

Annotation: As things return to normal at Trinity High School after the severe injury of Jerry Renault, the Vigils continue handing out assignments to rein some disorder. But senior members of the secret group are in disagreement about how they should run the club. As their senior years begin to close, Archie, Obie, and Carter are headed for a confrontation that test how far each of them are willing to go.

Topics: Dating, relationships, fighting mainstream society, revenge, questioning authority, suicide.

Thematic Statement: It is not evil leaders who make the world bad, but the followers.

Range of Appeal: As the prequel to this book was more appropriate for freshmen, this book focuses more on the senior class. For this reason, the book would be more appropriate at the high school level. But, if a student reads The Chocolate War, it wouldn’t hurt them to read the sequel if they wanted to. Male readers would prefer this book, and it needs to be taught with attention to the degrading treatment of women by characters.

Plot: Archie continues to give assignments as he tutors his successor, Bunting. Obie has grown more distant from the Vigils since he started dating Laurie Gundarson. Obie and Archie are at odds over Obie’s lack of interest and Archie’s new pupil. As the date for a prank gets closer, Carter, who thinks it will go too far, warns Brother Leon with a letter. Archie finds out and plans revenge. Laurie breaks up with Obie after a prank by Bunting and his friends to scare the two. The prank goes too far and Obie is told that Archie put Bunting up to it. Learning magic tricks from Ray Bannister, a transfer student, Obie replaces the white marbles in the Vigil assignment box with black ones. Thus, Archie assigns himself to be the fool at the annual Fair Day. A student threatens Brother Leon and then commits suicide, realizing as he falls to his death that he doesn’t want to die. Obie attempts to kill Archie at Ray’s magic show on Fair Day with a guillotine, but fails.

Evaulation/Mini-rationale: This book is a decent sequel to The Chocolate War with a relating theme. This would be a good book to read in a sociology or history unit. High school males would enjoy this book.

Thought Questions: Is Cormier’s indictment of followers fair? Should Obie seek revenge? Is there anything in your life similar to David Caroni’s poor grades that would send you into a depression? If you could punish Archie, would you? What about the other Vigils who gave him his power?