Unlike Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the good things is that you don't have a movie reference point for this read. You're going in mostly blind, which is good. You know Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Willy Wonka, and the Oompa Loompas and have the chance to get to know Charlie's other grandparents a bit better and his parents get slightly more exposition... but let's say that again... slightly.
This was a fun read as are most Dahl reads, but it falls short of the mark of his excellent work for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we get dizzying and amazing glimpses into more areas of the Chocolate Factory, but it's glimpses. Very rarely do we really dig into new rooms fully and in that sense, at times the book felt rushed. There's also a big chunk that takes place in space and in the Glass Elevator. It seems like these chapters serve mostly to show how amazing and indestructible the Elevator is rather than push forward most narratives.
In the end, the book is SUPER random even by Dahl's standards and sometimes it really works and sometimes you're left wondering more than you enjoy. That said, it's a very enjoyable book and if you didn't have amazing books like the first Charlie Bucket book or James and the Giant Peach, it'd be held in higher regards. When the story settles down a bit, it's a pure delight, but quite often you're switching from one location to another at breakneck speed that even the glass elevator would have trouble keeping up with.
As for the characters, Charlie is as "Charlie" as ever and just a practical, sweet, nice kid, with a good head on his shoulders. Grandpa Joe has some excitable moments but isn't as much in the forefront as in the first book. The other grandparents kind of blend one into the other although Grandma Georgina is by far the crabbiest one, almost seeming as if she was related to the other four kids who got wonkad in the first book. Btw, there are some inconsistencies in the ages of the grandparents from book 1 to book 2. In book 1, they're mostly in their 90's if I'm not mistaken, while in Book 2, they're dropped down to their 80's. Some other small details here and there make me smile as an indie author and when I see people complain about inconsistencies. (It's kind of comforting that they can happen).
Something I did notice is that things from this book did make it into the first movie adaptation and that semi sad and occasionally contemplative Wonka we saw in the first movie is the same one that is at one time having a poignant moment when something unpleasant is happening and he finds comfort in the churning of his chocolate waterfall.
Don't get me wrong though, it's still a silly and very fun book and I read it pretty quickly. It's just that it falls slightly short from the high marks of Dahl's best books, which isn't exactly easy to surpass or even equal. Even so, a highly enjoyable read that begs to be enjoyed with your sweet of choice.