Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Book Week, Part 2

So the first  Banned Book in this series of posts was about a teenage girl, noq this one is about teenage boys.

The second book that I read for Banned Book Week (September 30- October 6) was The Chocolate War By Robert Cormier.

This book has the distinction of being one of the most frequently challenged books in the past 20 years.  It is written in subjective 3rd person, and tells the stories of several teenage boys who attend the all-boys Trinity Catholic School. Although the teachers are officially in charge of the school, the real power lies with a secret society of students called the Vigils.  The Vigils are effectively controlled by the officer known as the "assigner" which is held by Archie Costello, an intelligent,  manipulative sociopath whose thrives on risk and a lust for power.  I basically imagined him as a teenage version of Lex Luthor.

The primary challenges to this book appear to be mostly on sexual ground, although the only really sexual issues that we discover is that teenage boys masturbate a lot, something pretty much everyone knows already.  Nevertheless, I found this book to be pretty disturbing to me since overall it tended to glorify the villain and in some sense exculpate his actions.  The author, and many fans of the book, claim that the purpose of this is that it reflects the true reality of life.  Be that as it may, as a victim of bullying as a teenager I found the story (and particularly the ending) very disturbing.