Sunday, August 12, 2018

Thoughts: A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time

by Madelein L'Engle
Book 1 of Time Quintet

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.0 Stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I am of the impression that I'm one of the minority who either just didn't like this book, or who didn't understand the grandness of this book.  I don't know which it is; take your pick.

Maybe I'm just a pretentious bitch who doesn't like classics because they're classics.  Or maybe not all classics are really all that good despite awards and hype and popularity.

But let's clarify...

The book is well written with imagery and description at some points, while at other points it gets pretty vague and sketchy.  And just like that, the narration opts to explain away why things are confusing with the fact that, it's not a concept you understand but some things are just known.  "What is the fifth dimension?"  It's not something that can be explained, it's something that you "just know."  "How does one tesser? And what does that even mean?"  Again, this is something that cannot be explained with words; you "just know" what it is and how it works.  "Who or What is Mrs. Whatsit?"  Again, stop trying to explain these things with words; some things "just have to be known."

And this is pretty hard to stomach, even as an adult who loves to read fantasy a lot.  Just as well, the book involves the presence of two brilliant scientists, so you would have thought that the logic in the story itself would make a little more sense.

The world has potential, I'll give it that.  And maybe within the next four books of the series, things will come together a lot more enticingly.  But as far as the story progression goes, A Wrinkle in Time was pretty boring.  And frustrating.  There isn't even a means to explain away The Dark Thing or "IT", which is pretty much summed up as "darkness" or "evil", plain and simple.

As a children's book, I guess this works out pretty well.  Maybe had I read it when I was younger I would have been in awe of it, though I'm certain that the characters might have frustrated me anyway.

The kids are flat and boring when they're not annoying me.  The three... I'll call them: "The Mysterious Beings Who Introduce the Quest", are flighty and confusing.  The parents barely made enough of an appearance to really seem important.  I especially found it a little insulting to find that Mom is an excellent, "brilliant" scientist, but she still spends more of her time being domestic while "the man" gets to go on government missions and adventures.


Okay.  So factoring in the time at which this book was written, I suppose we can account for the gender double standards.

To be honest, the book started out pretty good and I was into it for the first four or five chapters.  Meg was a pretty ideal heroine for young girls--she's a nerd who's good at math, spends time doing academic stuff with her parents, and she's not "that quiet, pretty girl" in school who's cynical about her own looks to the point that you want to slap some sense into her.  No, in fact, she's a troublemaker because she's misunderstood for her lack of trying to conform to the way that public education requires of you.  She wears glasses and braces and is described by the in-story background characters as "that unattractive girl".  She was realistic with her own age-appropriate issues to deal with, and she was the type of girl you would root for to come out on top.

And there was no love triangle.

And then we start the adventure and she does this thing where she cries, yells, cries some more, shrieks, screams, talks in exclamation points 90% of the time...  Basically, she goes from a pretty ideal heroine to a hysterical damsel (despite the fact that she was never really in distress for much of the time she was being hysterical).  On top of that, I felt that she lacked a lot of sense as well.

I feel like I'm one of few people who read this book who just didn't like Meg despite her affinity for brainy math problems and her non-standard-ness as a female main character in a young adult/middle grade novel.  Because while I love that our main character is a girl who is non-standard from the norm, it doesn't escape me that she is set up to be the one special main character.

All in all, this book could have been good if parts weren't so vague and if explanations didn't get filed away under "it just is" and then concluded the book in that fashion.

Moral of the story (which might work in a fantasy world if you want to keep your kids shielded from real life): Evil just is and love conquers all.

Also, parents aren't infallible, which apparently gives a child the right to be rude and disrespectful because Daddy Dearest can't make everything right?  I'm still trying to process that one, because from where I come from, the stuff that Meg was spouting to her father after they escaped the Great Almighty IT the first time would never even have the audacity to fly around my parents.

This book was read as part of my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader.

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in August 2014.

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