Size Doesn’t Matter (105): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; Autofocus

Size Doesn’t Matter (105): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; AutofocusCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Narrator: Douglas Hodge
Length: 3 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Charlie Bucket #1
Published by Listening Library on June 13, 2013
Genres: Humor, Adventure, Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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Puffin Audiobooks presents Roald Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, read by the actor Douglas Hodge. This audiobook features original music.

Charlie Bucket desperately wants to eat more than cabbage soup every day. But even more than that, he longs to see Wonka's enormous chocolate factory!

Now Mr Willy Wonka, the most wondrous inventor in the world, has hidden golden tickets inside his delicious creamy chocolate bars. Only five winners can go through those great iron gates; will one of them be Charlie?

It’s about now that I really start regretting my read all the Roald Dahl children’s books plan. Sure, James and the Giant Peach disappointed, but I expected better results from the rest. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is fine, and the audiobook’s certainly well done, but I can’t say I was massively impressed or into it as an adult. The fact that the whole thing’s just meant to tell children proper ways to behave and the fact that Wonka’s antics are deemed acceptable is a bit hmmm now that I’m a grown-up.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (105): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; AutofocusCharlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
Narrator: Douglas Hodge
Length: 3 hrs, 15 mins
Series: Charlie Bucket #2
Published by Listening Library on July 3, 2013
Genres: Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Charlie Bucket and his family are rushing around the Earth at seventeen-thousand miles an hour in a great glass elevator.

It belongs to the fantastic Mr Willy Wonka, and the adventure becomes even greater upon discovering they're not the only ones orbiting the Earth at that particular time . . .

Wow, okay. New lows reached in the potentially permanently abandoned Roald Dahl reread. I don’t remember this book at all, though I’m sure I read it as a child, which means that I probably didn’t much care for this one even then. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is a poorly plotted, racist mess.

In writing a long-awaited sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s like Roald Dahl didn’t understand at all what children found so compelling. Most of the appeal of that book is the chocolate and the magic. It’s full of inventions so clever and thrilling to the child’s mind that the fact that’s overtly about punishing children who don’t obey their elders doesn’t turn kids off. In the sequel, there’s very little chocolate. Also, the only child in the story is Charlie Bucket.

Instead of Charlie taking over the running of the chocolate factory and coming up with cool ideas of his own, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and Charlie’s whole family go into space in the great glass elevator, causing an international incident and having to defeat aliens. Listen, I’m all for sci fi, but this is ludicrous in a bunch of bad ways, completely random, and focused more on the overgrown child of an American president communicating with other world leaders to figure out who is trying to bomb his space hotel. This includes racism directed towards the Chinese (when they try to call the Chinese leader, they accidentally reach a Chinese restaurant because there are so many Wings and Wongs in China, it’s hard to get the right person. lol racism is hilar, right, kids?). What kid wants to read about the American president’s nanny/VP singing him a song in between yelling at other countries? Also, why the fuck is any of this happening?

Then Dahl abandons the space plot and takes the crew back to the chocolate factory. The rest of the book is spent giving the three bedridden grandparents pills to make them younger. In a flashback to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they are too willful and end up making themselves too young, leaving two babies and one disappears to “Minusland.” Of course, Grandma Georgina is rescued and everything is fixed. So is the ultimate lesson of this series that when kids fuck up, they have to go through a lot of shit to get back to normal (if they do)—I mean, Violet Beauregard is permanently violet—and adults can fuck up without repercussions? And, again, why would children want to read about the aging process? Also, it’s super fucked up that Grandpa Joe is for a while married to a baby.

None of the plot choices make any damn sense and the casual racism just makes it worse. There’s absolutely nothing I found redeeming about this book. If you love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, do not read this book.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Size Doesn’t Matter (105): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; AutofocusAutofocus by Lauren Gibaldi
Published by HarperTeen on June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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From the author of The Night We Said Yes comes a fun and heartfelt YA contemporary tale. When Maude decides to search for information about her birth mother, she finds out more than she expected. Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Susane Colasanti.

Family. It’s always been a loaded word for Maude, whose birth mother died after giving her up for adoption. With her best friend, Treena, in college in the same town where her birth mother grew up, Maude decides to visit and explore her past. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena doesn’t seem to have time for her—or for helping with her search. Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude, she starts to realize that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Gibaldi’s debut novel was cute, shippy, and bantery, so obviously I really wanted to read whatever she wrote next. While Autofocus isn’t bantery or especially shippy, it’s a great look at the changes from college to high school with the awesome setting of a college visit.

Ostensibly, Autofocus is primarily about family. Maude’s photography teacher gives the class an assignment to put together photos of family. Maude, adopted as a baby, isn’t sure what family means to her, so she decides to visit her best friend Treena at FSU, which just happens to be where her birth mother went to college until she gave birth to Maude and died. There’s nothing wrong with this portion of the book, but it all felt very predictable. I haven’t read too many books with adopted main characters, but I still felt like I’d read this before. It didn’t hit me in the feels at all.

However, I really liked the college visit aspect. I did a ton of college visits as a junior and senior, so I know how rich they could be for fiction. Maude’s surprised to find how much her best friend Tree has changed in college, and she’s disappointed to find that Tree is trying to be someone different. College is such a time of change, and Gibaldi captures the messiness of freshman year where many people (like me) try to change themselves, but often don’t usually end up changing in quite the ways they expect. The friendship dynamics between Tree and Maude are well done too. Both of them are envious of the time apart and uncomfortable in their new relationship. They’ll either grow and adapt or the friendship will become part of the past, and that’s a good lesson.

I did not like, however, Treena’s crush on Trey and the way that unfolds. She and her crush get together on the first day of Maude’s visit, and Treena ends up abandoning Maude a lot to hang out with him. Treena gets drunk a lot because it’s what Trey does, and, within the week long visit, she discovers that Trey is “cheating” on her. The book couches his behavior as cheating, and he’s definitely a bad guy in the narrative. However, he and Treena never had a DTR and were not exclusive. They’ve been hooking up for less than a week. I think it’s pretty shitty to accuse him of wrongdoing when they were not in a relationship. I mean, I would hate Trey irl too, but that’s completely not fair. Treena made bad choices; Trey did not force her or cheat on her.

The romance between Bennett and Maude is very cute. Bennett’s my favorite character by a landslide. He’s basically the only one in the whole cast that’s reliably bantery, and he’s a genuinely sweet guy. Autofocus makes it clear that this is just a short relationship, but I choose to headcanon Maude going to FSU the next year and them getting together for real.

Autofocus has some strong elements and some weak ones. I liked it, but it doesn’t stand out too much.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


4 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (105): Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; Autofocus”

  1. I never read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and I figured I should do that next year because I might be missing out. But from your rating, review and mention of it being set the glass elevator in space, I’m thinking I will just keep on missing out instead…
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Santa, Please Buy Me These Books!My Profile

  2. They go to space in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator??! Yeah I definitely never read that one when I was a kid. Probably for the best.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Santa List 2016My Profile

  3. That’s too bad about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! I reread it last year and I still really enjoy it, especially all the whimsical candy names. I haven’t read Glass Elevator since elementary school though and wow it sounds awful. I can’t say I remembered anything about it.

  4. […] A Reader Of Fictions – “I liked it, but it doesn’t stand out too much“ […]

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