I am glad I read this book, despite some of the posted reviews. True, the book is not "action" as some award books are. It is a psychological piece dealing with secrets, families and the passage of time.
The book is best read as a multi-genre "experience," and it has aspects of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. It also employs occasional stream of consciousness and shifting characters. I read the book hard copy as I listened, which helped. This could be a confusing book to "get" if you only have the audio file.
But the book is dreamy and intense, and reveals about human relationships by portraying them as foggy and obscure. A sad book overall, but optimistic, too. I liked it.
Roald Dahl may well have planned at least one more book in the Charlie series, which he never wrote, so it's hard to fairly judge the existing two without it. This may explain why the Elevator book lacks a nice, tidy storyline. Lots of questions are still unresolved at the end.
Still this book works for upper elementary and middle school students, who like a zany story where anything can happen, but who want to learn about broader content, and Elevator talks about negative numbers and the American political and economic system. This sounds dry, but Dahl presents it in a fun way, and brings up ethical ideas, such as whether Mr. Wonka's treatment of the Oompa Loompas amounts to slavery, or whether he's merely helping them earn an honest living.
Perhaps any group of 9-year-old Potter fans can give an adult a more interesting and animated discussion of Harry Potter than this audio book. In fact, perhaps any nursing home resident can give a more rousing discussion of any subject under the sun than this audio book. So skip the purchase, go talk with an Alzheimer's sufferer for two hours, and both you and the octogenarian will be better off.
The narration is dry and uncompelling. The content is random, disorganized and seemingly more secondhand than fact. And there are also long stretches of plot summary for no reason, making the whole thing feel like an attempt at Cliff's Notes.
And for a second edition and new audio release, there were some glaring omissions, most notably the rise of Potter merchandise, the Harry Potter theme park in Florida, Potter fan fiction on the web, and lawsuits over copyright infringement.
Granted, it would be hard to write a thorough biography on someone who is as private as Rowling, but there are numerous books about the cultural and literary impact of Harry Potter. This information could have been used to make a more substantial overview for adult readers than what's here.
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