Tuesday, February 11, 2014

D is for Dahl

First, an apology, dear reader. I know that I was supposed to read Dickens as my 4th dead guy (letter D). But halfway through Great Expectations, I realized that I've read it already! So I immediately dropped it and picked up a Roald Dahl, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the only Dahl book in my shelves. Such a quick read, this book is.

I was surprised at how Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is so easy to like. Yes, there are stereotypical characters. And yes, these characters get what they deserve. At the onset (at least if you haven't seen the movie), one knows who will have an unfortunate hand dealt upon them, and who will be favored by the quick turn of events. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is, after all, a children's book.

The novel's plot zooms through its 160 pages, which works well for young readers. There isn't a chapter wherein the characters just talk about things. Dahl makes sure that there's plenty going on on each page, and boy, there is a lot going on. One forgives Dahl for this breakneck pace, because the dialogue is witty, the characters charming, and the places bizarrely wonderful.

Perhaps an older reader like me would find fault in the storyline's predictability. Charlie gets his Golden Ticket eventually, and the other 4 children suffer fates commensurate to their flaws. Veruca Salt, a spoiled girl, is found to be a rotten nut. The chubby Augustus Gloop is made to traverse a thin pipe that can barely accommodate his girth. The novel's end though, when Willy Wonka decides to make Charlie Bucket his heir, is something we've seen coming from miles away.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is indeed charming albeit simplistic. It's the kind of book you love as a kid. It's one that you keep coming back to in your adult years for the sheer pleasure of reading something where the characters are clear cut. There are no gray areas in this book. And that's a good thing these days, when you never know if that kindly old lady next door will sneak into your house at night and slash your throat.

Read this book if:
  1. You like sugary sweet things.
  2. You know that chocolate is a food group in itself.
  3. You've always wanted to live in a chocolate factory.


Tin said...

Matilda is my first and only Dahl, so far. It was a fun read. Gross but fun. Hee hee. Some I've only seen in their movie adaptation form. I loved Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Henry Selick's James and the Giant Peach. And from what I've read and seem, I agree with you...witty dialogue, charming characters, and bizarre places. :)

Peter S. said...

I love James and the Giant Peach! I haven't read Matilda though. Have you heard it's now a musical? That would be interesting to see.

Louize Gonzales said...

Nice quick switch, Peter!
The child in me enjoyed all the chocolate goodness and the adventures in this book. I'm sure children had a good laugh too. But the adult me found fault on how the consequences were dealt, who initiated them, and the psychological imprint of each lesson in every child.

Like Tin, Matilda remains to be my favorite among Dahl's books. And it's great to know that there is a musical. ♥

Peter S. said...

Hello, Louize! I'll read Matilda next!

Regarding the way in which the consequences were dealth, I did my best not to think too much about it. But you're right though. Some of the psych imprints brought about by these consequences made me a bit uncomfortable.