Narrator: Frank Muller
Run Time:5hrs and 34 minutes
Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive?
When I originally picked The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier to read for my 50 classics in 5 years challenge, I thought that it was because I had read it as a teen and wanted to re-read it to see how my opinion of it had changed over the years. However, I soon discovered that it wasn’t the book that I thought it was…(and unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out what that damn book it yet!!). But at the same time, I am glad that I chose to read/listen to it, but have decided that I need to pick up the second one (Beyond the Chocolate War), because I wasn’t all that impressed with the ending – it was too vague and unfinished for me.
However, the quote that continually shows up through the book – “dare I disturb the universe” is key to the events that unfolded through-out the course of the book. It is a question that so many people who engage in social protest ask themselves – is that one small action I might engage in, worth it. Will I succeed in what I am about to do? What are the consequences for me engaging in this action? It was interesting to hear, in the authors own words, how he came up with the idea for the book (his son who refused to sell school chocolates) and how his various what-if scenarios played out in the development of the various characters. Not only does the theme of social protest appear through-out but the idea of the role of bullying in society.
It was bullying by the group called the Vigils that started the chain of events that led to the events that occurred in the books; it was the bullying of Brother Leon of many of the students at the school that led to the culture where the Vigils flourished and were allowed to behave as they did. Like i mentioned above however, my main problem with how the book finished was that there was no real ending – the good guy (in this case, Jerry) didn’t prevail, we were kind of left wondering what happened or worse yet, left with the impression that evil will prevail and that it will beat good out every time. So I am curious to see what happens in the second book.
I found the narration by Frank Muller interesting – it seemed much more like a performance than the straight reading of a book. This isn’t something that I often run into when listening, so it was interesting. At first it was weird, but it kind of grew on me as the book progressed. He did have a good ability to have some fear inspiring voices like his rendition of Brother Leon. i have to say though, that since the entire cast of characters are male, there was really no way for me to judge how his female voices would sound – so I would be curious to listen to other narrations by him to find out how he renders those.
If the other books in my classics challenge are as thought provoking as this one, I look forward to reading more.