Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl (Book Review and PDF)


Roald Dahl captures my heart with this masterpiece. To think that someone who has experienced - firsthand - the brutalities of war wrote a book as interesting as this is quite unbelievable. Completely amazing! His knack for story telling can simply not be overemphasized.

The story is about an eleven-year-old boy, Charlie Bucket, who lives in a small house with his poor parents and four grandparents. One day, Grandpa Joe tells him about the exploits of the legendary chocolatier, Willy Wonka, and how the other chocolatiers sent in spies to steal his secret recipes, which led him to close the factory to outsiders.

The next day, the newspaper announces that Wonka is re-opening the factory and has invited five lucky children to come on a tour, if they find a golden ticket inside a Wonka chocolate bar. The first four golden tickets are found by four ill-mannered children, who went out of their ways to get them. Charlie wouldn't indulge himself with such loft dreams.

But, one day - after he has long since given up on ever finding a ticket - hungry Charlie sees a 50 pence piece buried in the snow. He buys a Wonka Bar, gobbles it down hungrily and, to his surprise, finds the fifth and final golden ticket. He gets offers from many parents but he refuses to give it to anybody. The ticket says he can bring one or two members of his family with him and Charlie's parents decide to allow Grandpa Joe to go with him. What happens next is a whole "chocolatey sweet" adventure that'd decide Charlie and other children's fates. You don't want to miss it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is suspenseful, thrilling and outright funny. It is an ethical fantasy, so it is natural to expect that kind of world where anything is possible...the kind where you can build a palace entirely of chocolate. The ethical part is accentuated in the carefully picked characters. Characters like the good Charlie, the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, the spoiled and petulant Veruca Salt, the chewing gum-addicted Violet Beauregarde, and the television-obsessed Mike Teavee pull off their manners so perfectly that you conclude (once and for all) that they are not just kids from 1964 when the book was published, but everyday kids.

Another wonderful thing about the story is the choice of words. It is nothing extraordinary ... but exquisite. And the way they are stringed together proves beyond doubt that Roald was a master storyteller; maybe a poet or a lyricist, too, because the Oompa-Loompas' songs are just so on point. Please permit me to indulge myself with these lines:

...Slowly, the wheels go round and round, 
The cogs begin to grind and pound; 
A hundred knives go slice, slice, slice; 
We add some sugar, cream, and spice; 
We boil him for a minute more, 
Until we’re absolutely sure 
That all the greed and all the gall 
Is boiled away for once and all. 
Then out he comes! And now! By grace! 
A miracle has taken place! 
This boy, who only just before 
Was loathed by men from shore to shore, 
This greedy brute, this louse’s ear, 
Is loved by people everywhere! 
For who could hate or bear a grudge 
Against a luscious bit of fudge?

That being said, I don't really like how some of the conversations played out. Although, they are indirect (for the most part), I can't help but notice a little bit of info dump here and there, especially during the interview of the lucky children. But, given the situation, one could wave it off as raw excitement. Moreover, the book is meant for kids, and what do they care about info dump?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a one-in-a-lifetime kind of book and I can understand fully well why it hasn't gotten old after all these years. It is a book for everyone and I honestly can't wait to read it to my unborn kids. For me, it is a 5 out of 5.


About the Author


Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short-story writer, poet, screenwriter, and wartime fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.

About the Book

Genre: Children's fantasy novel

Publishers: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (original), Puffin Books (1995–2006), Scholastic (current)

Publication date:  17 January 1964 (US version), 23 November 1964 (UK version)

Followed by: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

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