Monday, 6 December 2010

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time
This is a science fiction children's book, winner the Newbery Medal in 1963. It is also one of the most challenged books. There are plenty of reviews singing its praises. With all this in mind I was really expecting to like it. But it didn't fulfil those expectations. In this case I know exactly why that happened: I read it too late.

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Charles Wallace, his sister Meg and his friend Calvin. They are trying to save Charles and Meg's father, a scientist that has been missing for quite a while. They have the help of three curious ladies: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who. These will take them out of Earth to Camazotz where the evil IT has made Charles and Meg's father his prisoner.

I really didn't like the trio in adventure. Well, none of the trios. Because if there is something that is repeated here is the number 3. But back to the characters. Of the three kids that go to save Charles' father, the only one I cared a bit about was Calvin. Maybe because he appeared later on the book, or he wasn't really on the Murry family (or maybe because he was a red-head, probably that). Charles Wallace (and who calls that to a child – and I mean every time they talk to him – what a mouthful!) was just plain creepy. As child wonder, he talks very much like an adult, (actually, better than a lot of adults I know), and he is quite intelligent and perceptive of other people's emotions. And while I like smart kids, Charles had no child-like behaviour that to me he was just a very arrogant adult in a child's body. So yes, Charles was creepy. Meg, the heroine, never really managed to captivate me. She seemed to complain all the time, but do the things all the same. She probably had some depth there that was lost on me.

I'm quite sure that the characters' flaws would pass unnoticed had I read A Wrinkle in Time fifteen or ten years ago. But comparing to what I read nowadays, I couldn't fail to notice and cringe at them. And that brings to another thing that bothered me in this book. The fact that our adventurers were children (this accepting that Charles Wallace is indeed four).

Now, I have no problem with reading about kids having adventures, even if they turn out to be quite dangerous. However, I do have a problem with adults sending children on those adventures, knowing that it is dangerous, and when they could have solved the problem themselves. Although it is explained later on the book why Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which couldn't go to Camazotz, it always felt that they were cowering behind 3 small children. The reason they gave even sounded more like excuse.

The first part of the book didn't impress me. It was setting the scene and introducing the cast of characters – well, its was really getting to know their flaws. It is unremarkable, and just a way to get to the part where the action begins. The positive part is that it can be read quickly.

When the cast finally reaches Camazotz the book picks up. The Science Fiction appears, with its dystopia and mind controlling evil overlord. That I liked, it is exactly my sort of thing. And while the rest of the book is just mediocre, the Camazotz part is pretty good. If I had read this as a child I would be seriously frightened by that place. Even now, it causes some discomfort. Still, despite being a good dystopia, it was all very rushed and didn't make much sense.

I will not be continuing this series. The first book was enough for me, as I didn't really care for the characters, and there were few things about the plot that I liked.


Other Reviews:
Everything To Do With Books | Libri Touches | Page Turners


  1. Uh-oh ... I've been wanting to read this one since I first heard of it but your review has given second thoughts on it.

  2. *scratches A Wrinkle in Time from her wishlist*

  3. @Kah Woei
    It was on my wishlist for ages as well, I had heard so many good things. But I think most people read it when they were young, so they have fond memories of it, and those usually stay even if you re-read later on and realise it's not so good.

    But since I had only expectations and no memories, I wasn't able to like it :(

    If you want I can lend you mine, just so you can say you've tried. Hey, maybe you'll like it...

  4. I don't think so, I'll trust your judgement on this one (BTW, on that cover I see Ron, Hermione and infant Draco Malfoy...this is my brain aching because I haven't seen HP7 yet)

  5. Didn't see Draco in there, well spotted (Ron and Hermione I did). Wanna go see it this week? I'm free.

  6. *sigh* not sure I can...o professor vai ler o relatório no feriado e fazer as correcções dele na 5a; nah sei se ainda vou ter que fazer muita coisa ou não depois disso, nem sei quando ele está a pensar que eu entregue, se na 6a, ou na 2a :s no domingo vou às compras de natal com a mãe de tarde e à noite é o nosso rendez-vous *sigh* só se der p/ ir no sábado, nah sei :( hard times... (ainda nem fiz a árvore! tragic!)