Title: A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Series: Time Quintet, #1
Publication Date: March 16, 1962
Genres: Fiction > Children’s > Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
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“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
This classic children’s tale tells of a young girl Meg Murry and her brother Charles Wallace, as they embark on a journey to find their father after a strange woman shows up on their doorstep one night claiming that he is still alive. With the help of Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit, Meg, Charles, and their friend Calvin travel through time and space to find Mr. Murry and rescue him before the evil that is threatening to take over the universe gets him — or the children — first.
I read this book when I was very little (or rather, my mom read it to me), and I don’t remember liking it a whole lot. When my book club picked it as our February book, I was excited to give it another shot. You can probably guess by my rating that I didn’t like it much more this time around.
I found the plot to be very confusing — stories involving time travel and other universes have never been my forte, but this one seemed a bit over the top. I felt similarly about this book as to how I felt about The Little Prince — it was a bit too confusing and abstract just for the sake of being confusing and abstract.
I had no problems with Meg at the beginning, and I even sympathized with her, although I felt like the flaws that she had (not doing well in school, acting out, appearing to be stupid, etc.) were laid on a bit too thick. It seems that everyone in her life (except her mother and Charles Wallace) think that she’s actually stupid just because she isn’t a scientist with two doctorate degrees like her parents are. Okay, we get it, Meg has problems! Her angst only gets worse as the story goes on and she becomes very annoying. She is never able to comprehend anything that’s going on (I can’t blame her because neither was I), but she constantly complains and doles out sass to everyone, even her newly-found father.
Charles Wallace is a cute kid, but the whole “child genius” thing is pretty annoying. It’s said at the beginning of the story that Charles didn’t speak for a long time and everyone thought he was stupid, too (what’s up with that?) but when he finally started to talk (at age 3 or 4), he had intellectually surpassed his peers and even Meg, who was 12 or 13. Not only is he unusually good with words, he has some sort of special talent that has something to do with reading people. We never really find out exactly what it is.
The whole moral of the story essentially comes down to good vs. evil and, while that’s fine and good, I felt like the allegory itself was a bit heavy-handed. There is a large, black cloud over Earth — which obviously represents evil — that humans are trying to fight. Other planets that the children visit do not have this problem and they are presented as being better and simpler.
There were a few random religious references that I felt were a bit unnecessary, but I did like that the ending told us that in the fight between good vs. evil, love can solve everything. While this is a common theme in a lot of books (Harry Potter, for example), I felt like this book oversimplified it compared to the rest of the complicated book.
I don’t really get the hype behind this book and won’t be continuing on with the series.