Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time.

Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the "misfit" characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers.

A classic since 1962, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is sophisticated in concept yet warm in tone, with mystery and love coursing through its pages. Meg's shattering yet ultimately freeing discovery that her father is not omnipotent provides a satisfying coming-of-age element. Readers will feel a sense of power as they travel with these three children, challenging concepts of time, space, and the power of good over evil.

I’ll admit I was a little let down. My mother was really excited when she saw I was reading this book for school, and my mom has great taste in books so I expected a lot, but the story never really lived up to my expectations. I couldn’t help but feel that it was a little disheveled in places. I loved that the protagonist is female, and ordinary with braces, brown hair, glasses (girl next door kind of thing)… even if she was kinda annoying at times (all teens can be annoying;)). Time travel is always cool, and the unfamiliar planets (especially Ixchel with its sightless, faceless creatures) were incredibly fun to imagine. The crazy Mrs. W’s were very interesting, and if their stories are continued in further books, I’d be all over that.

The story itself is great – the classic battle of good versus evil in a sci-fi / fantasy setting. The image of evil as a dark cloud reminded me of The Nothing from The NeverEnding Story (loosely). The themes of individuality, love, and acceptance carried strongly throughout; even though they were almost shoved in the reader’s face, I’m ok with that since it is a children’s story.

What I didn’t like, primarily, was the character of Charles Wallace. For some reason, he really creeped me out. I understand he is supposed to be “gifted,” but his words and actions seemed far too adult for a 5-year-old. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the religious references made in several places in the story. Too many mentions of “God” turn me off. However, I am willing to admit that it was quite daring of the author to mix religion with some pagan aspects, like witches and crystal balls.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and definitely appreciate the themes and values, I was just turned off a little by the character’s lack of resolution and ability to be so easily distracted. As someone who is easily distracted myself, it made it hard for me to really stick with the story and become completely engrossed in it’s pages.

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