A review of both books (the above ratings are an average of the ones they both get)
THE CHOCOLATE WAR: 5/5 stars, 14+. Yes, it's controversial. Yes, it contains some pretty edgy/shocking content (masturbation, brutal fights, and profanity such as "s--t" are all in stock here, albeit pretty infrequently) Yes, it's not exactly the cheeriest thing around. But seriously, the first "Chocolate War" book is still a darkly superb-or should I say superbly dark-YA classic that every single teen should read at least once. Granted, if you don't like books that are extremely nihilistic or border on psychological horror, maybe skip this one, but otherwise, I highly recommend it.
BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE WAR: 3/5 stars, 16+. It's pretty ironic that the first "Chocolate War" book still gets a lot of flak for apparently containing material that's way too horrific/inappropriate for its intended teen audience, but its infinitely more explicit sequel, "Beyond the Chocolate War" (written more than 10 years after its predecessor), is virtually ignored (maybe this is just because nobody has really heard of it, but still). The profanity isn't any worse, but the sex and violence are much worse. Whereas scenes like these at least served a purpose in the first book as part of its plot or to just show how cruel the kids at Trinity can be (for example, when a Vigil walks in on another student masturbating, he uses a photo of it that turns out to never even exist in the first place to blackmail him into doing his bidding), here, the lengthy, drawn-out scenes involving things such as sexual assault, suicide (including the disturbing preparation of such an act), and extremely violent fantasies just feel gratuitous and mean. Additionally, the book lacks the same focus and nail-biting tension that made the original such a bracing classic (especially since the first volume's protagonist, Jerry Renault, is barely even in it), though I still enjoyed reading it nonetheless just to see what was going to happen at the end. Spoiler alert: as with the first book, it's not exactly pleasant, so if you didn't like that one, well... you DEFINITELY won't like this sequel. However, mature fans of the first book should definitely check it out, if only to see how much more graphic content there is this time around.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness