Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl: C

charlieelevatorFrom the back cover:
Now that he’s won the chocolate factory, what’s next for Charlie? Last seen flying through the sky in a giant elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket’s back for another adventure. When the giant elevator picks up speed, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and the gang are sent hurtling through space and time. Visiting the world’s first space hotel, battling the dreaded Vermicious Knids, and saving the world are only a few stops along this remarkable, intergalactic joyride.

This reminds me a lot of what happened when I read The Neverending Story. Its film version (the original, thank you!) debuted around the same time I discovered Willy Wonka, actually, and I loved it just as much. I read the book about ten years ago, but the portion that was filmed ended about halfway through. The rest, as far as I remember, was a psychedelic story about a lion and wishes and multi-colored sand. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it the story I loved.

Similarly, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator continues where the first book left off and yet fails to achieve the magic of its predecessor. Mr. Wonka and Charlie’s family are taking the elevator back to the factory Charlie has just won, but Charlie’s three bedridden grandparents—who will fulfill the role of trouble-causing brats throughout the book—prevent Wonka from pressing a certain button at the right time and the elevator ends up entering orbit. So, essentially, you’ve got an eccentric guy in funny clothes piloting a box through space with some regular humans in tow for companionship. Sounds familiar…

Misadventures in space ensue, primarily caused by Wonka being somewhat of an ass and the grandparents being morons. I felt bad for Charlie on several occasions, because it seemed he wasn’t having very much fun. Eventually they get back to the factory, and the grandparents are at it again; the final quarter of the book is spent on de-aging them with the benefit of one pill and then re-aging them with a sort of magic oil. It’s pointless and not at all enjoyable. Add to this some potty humor and an unfunny incompetent president and you come up with a book that I will probably never read again.

If you love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and want to preserve your warm and fuzzy memories of same, do yourself a favor and avoid the sequel.

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  1. I vaguely remember reading this as a child, yet I do not remember much about it. However, I don’t think it affected my warm and fuzzy memories of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (though Chocolate Factory always fell into the category of things I like instead of things I love).

    “…and the grandparents being morons.”

    Are you suggesting that the grandparents literally are people who would have been medically diagnosed as ‘morons’ in the earlier part of the 20th century, and then institutionalized to remove them from society? Or are you just trying to say that they behaved in some inappropriate manner? I’m not making this comment to be anal; it’s just that there are people who, not that long ago, would have been officially declared ‘morons’, and using ‘moron’ as an insult implies that those people are bad.

    • I’m glad the sequel didn’t diminish your like for the first book. 🙂

      About the grandparents, I only meant to say that they repeatedly do some stupid and irritating things. I had no idea it was ever a clinical diagnosis.

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