Beyond the Chocolate WarSince I didn’t have my copy of Breaking Dawn available when I wrapped up Eclipse, I took a diversion to Beyond the Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

I read The Chocolate War back in middle school (or maybe early high school) and loved it. The story of standing up for your beliefs, even when it means you might get hurt, resonated with me a lot. Cormier drew such rich characters, it was easy to get fully invested in the book.

I hadn’t realized there was a sequel until early this year when I read about it on Martin Wilson’s blog. I’m glad I found it. Set a few months after the tragedy of the first book, the Vigils and Archie Costello are still ruling the school, handing out assignments and causing trouble. But there are those who don’t want to go along with the Vigils anymore and feel that it’s time for Archie to take a fall.

Beyond shows the Cormier has great command over these characters. He mixes several great plots. There’s a new kid in town who gets mixed up in a plot that could see revenge delivered on Archie. Jerry Renault is back in Monument after recuperating in Canada and he’s trying to put his life back together. Meanwhile, Archie is working to put the next generation of Vigils together since his crew graduates.

The overall theme of the book is the same as the first, and interestingly it’s Archie who sums it up for Obie: “Know what, Obie? You could have said no anytime, anytime at all. But  you didn’t…” It’s a chilling commentary from the character we’re supposed to hate the most. All the kids feel like they need to exercise their free will, but most do not and don’t even realize they could because their scared to take a stand like Jerry did.

Now, I really am off to Breaking Dawn.