I Am the Cheese is one of four novels by Cormier dealing with social and political evils and the role of human nature in the creation and persistence of such forces. The Chocolate War studies a private school; Beyond the Chocolate War continues to study the same institution. I Am the Cheese extends Cormier’s vision into government, organized crime, and police agencies. In After the First Death, the author turns his concern to international terrorism. In spite of the enlarged focus of I Am the Cheese and After the First Death, however, Cormier’s themes remain fundamentally the same; he writes from a vision of a corrupt society and the role of the individual within it.
I Am the Cheese was filmed in 1983, but the film lacked the novel’s depth and was not well received by either critics or moviegoers. Directed by Robert Jiras, it starred Robert MacNaughton, who had attained some popularity as one of the young stars of the celebrated film E.T. The supporting cast included Hope Lange, Don Murray, and Robert Wagner. Like the book, the movie treats disturbing themes, and parents may wish to discuss them with teen-age viewers.