Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Reviewed by Connie

Published: 1964

It's about: A science-fiction/fantasy, children's novel about Meg Murry and her younger brother, Charles Wallace Murry, who cross infinite space and time with three "witches" -- Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which -- in order to rescue their scientist father, who is trapped on a "dark planet" in another galaxy. In the process, they come to battle Evil itself.

I thought: I hadn't read this book since childhood, but I decided recently to revisit it, primarily to figure out if it is as weird as I was remembering... and it was.

Let's start with the good points. I respect the allegory of the story and its presentation of battling an Evil that threatens to destroy from within. I also enjoyed reading about some highly unusual characters -- Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace. Meg, as the protagonist, is described as awkward, -- we're talking big glasses and braces here -- of mostly average intelligence, easily angry, and sickeningly dependent. I was annoyed with Meg for most of the novel, for always looking to the male characters to sort everything out, so I was pleasantly surprised with and heartily approved of the ending, with her own personal journey that leads her to find courage and confidence within herself.

Other than that, though, I can't exactly sing this book's praises. The allegory, though respectable, was a bit too -- obvious -- for my taste. Granted, this is a children's book, but it comes across to me as if L'Engle sat down and said, "All right, I'm going to write an allegory of good overcoming evil" and THEN came up with every element of the story to fit that. Not my favorite style there.

Plus, it may be that I am brainwashed by the YA literature and movies of today, but I found the story too skeletal -- especially the climax. Things are resolved too quickly with not enough struggle, not enough adventure, not enough meat. Just a personal preference.

Verdict: In-between

Reading Recommendations: I wouldn't call this a "must read," though I know LOTS of people who would say otherwise.

Warnings: quite a bit of whining and a dash of sentimentality, not to mention a crystal ball

Interesting Information: Disney made a movie version of the book back in 2003. I haven't seen it, but I love Madeleine L'Engle's comment on it. When someone asked her if the book fulfilled her expectations, she replied, "Yes, I expected it to be bad, and it is." Gotta respect her bluntness.

What I'm reading next: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro