charlie and the chocolate is one of my favourite books ( bonus points because my names charlie) but the glass elevator is a little out of with the politics and because it isn't in the factory it is still entertaining and amusing but just isn't as good as i would have hoped for. overall i give it a solid 3 stars. I was going to give it a 3 & 1/2 but that is not an option.
At the end of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Willy Wonka granted the ownership of his factory to Charlie and helped the boy kidnap his family.
So were you wondering what adventures they would get up to next? Me neither. But Roald Dahl still gave us "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator," a slightly schizophrenic tale of Wonka and Charlie's adventures, both terrestrial and in space. Unfortunately the space adventures end up being more tedious and drawn-out than amusing (despite the vermicious knids), and the story only truly picks up once they get back to the Factory.
Having helped Charlie drag away his parents and elderly grandparents, Willy Wonka is assaulted by Grandma Josephine while ascending into the atmosphere in the glass elevator. This causes them to end up in orbit, near where the United States has just established the spectacular Space Hotel -- and the presence of a glass cube filled with floating senior citizens and a bed immediately throws the President and various other important personages into a paranoid Cold War tizzy.
Also, there are aliens on the Hotel. Did I mention the Vermicious Knids (the K is NOT silent), cruel egg-shaped aliens that Willy Wonka inexplicably has encyclopedic knowledge of? Because they are there, and eating the innocent humans being shipped up to the Hotel. Then thankfully the action shifts back down to Earth, as the glass elevator crashes back down to Charlie's newly-acquired factory (which, fortunately, has only been left alone for a few hours). But when three of Charlie's grandparents refuse to leave their bed, Wonka offers them a magical pill that will de-age them -- and of course, something goes horribly wrong.
Making a sequel to a brilliant book like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" would be a pretty daunting task in itself, but it sometimes feels like Dahl wasn't really trying here -- the first half of the book is consumed with a wacky space-race scenario, and this part of the book just never actually takes off. While the Vermicious Knids are a gloriously horrifying species, it's too far removed from everything that happened beforehand to be enjoyable.
That, and it really consists of only a few jokes that Dahl stretches to the point of intense boredom. Those jokes are: zero gravity makes things float, the president is a paranoid moron dominated by his nanny, and the general just wants to blow everything up. Well, there's also a rather racist joke about the Chinese, which made me wince.
So I breathed a sigh of relief when the action drifted back down Earthwards, and we got back to the famous chocolate factory once more. There's no limit to the magical, whimsical stuff that Dahl can cram into this place -- now it turns out he has age potions made out of mythical/impossible things, and a doorway into a ghostly grey realm of the not-exactly-alive-yet. His whimsical writing style snaps right back into shape, as do the jokes and dark humor that made the first Charlie book such an enchantingly weird tale.
And Charlie and Willie Wonka have to share the stage more in this book -- while Charlie is still a good-hearted kid still, he's somewhat eclipsed by his chattering grandparents, who have wild reactions to a lot of the stuff that they're exposed to. Excepting Grandpa Joe, of course, who remains a thoroughly likable, enthusiastic old guy nonetheless. Willy Wonka is, of course, a pure delight who trolls people whenever he isn't providing them with potentially dangerous technology and medicine.
Don't expect too much more of the same from "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" -- the first half is a tedious slog, but the second half is more of what we've been waiting for. So skim the former, and savor the latter like fine chocolate.