Book Review: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg's father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.
Synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Book: A Wrinkle in Time
Series: Time Quintet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publication Date: May 2007
Publisher: Square Fish (first published in 1962)
Page Count: 247
Genre: Children, Science Fiction, Classics
Cover Artist: Jennifer Browne
My Rating: ★★★½
Meg Murry has had a difficult time since her father’s disappearance. It’s been some time now since they last heard from him–no one knows where exactly where he went. People in the town say he ran off with some other woman, but Meg and the rest of her family just don’t believe that. With having both parents as scientists, Meg has the potential to do great things, but emotionally can’t handle the pressure.
One evening when a storm rages outside, Meg, her brother Charles, and Mrs. Murry can’t sleep so they have a late-night snack. They are visited by their new, eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Whatsit. She makes mention of a tesseract, and Mrs. Murry panics. Meg discovers that the term refers to a project her father had been working on before his disappearance. Curious, she and Charles, accompanied by schoolmate Calvin O’Keefe, make their way to an old “haunted” house where Mrs. Whatsit had taken up residence. There, the meet Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, who promise to help the trio find Mr. Murry.
The three Mrs. W’s turn out to be supernatural beings who take the three through the universe by tesseract. They learn that it is a fifth-dimension in which space is folded and shortened. They travel first to Uriel, which is inhabited by Centaur-like beings, which end up being what the three Mrs. W’s are in disguise. The children discover that the entire universe is under attack by The Black Thing, and evil force wanting to take everything over. They travel to see the Happy Medium, who shows them that Earth is partially shrouded by this evil.
The children are sent to the planet of Camazotz, which has been taken over by The Black Thing, where it is said that their father is located. Upon arriving, they notice everything has a mechanical way of functioning, and learn that CENTRAL central intelligence has “hypnotic” powers over the world in a means of control. There, they confront the man with the red eyes, who has telepathic abilities and tries to control the three. In order to save their father, Charles gives in to the hypnosis of the man.
Meg and Calvin are able to find Mr. Murry and free him from the hell-like state he has been confined in for who knows how long. Trying to save her brother, Meg learns that Camazotz is ruled by a massive evil brain called “IT.” Threatened to be taken over by the telepathic abilities of IT, Mr. Murry tessers Meg, Calvin, and himself to the planet of Ixchel, which is inhabited by strange, furry beasts. Meg names one who cares for her Aunt Beast.
Mad that Mr. Murry left Charles behind, Meg realizes that she herself must go back to save him. She returns to Camazotz with gifts bestowed upon her by the Mrs. W’s. Because her bond with and love for her brother is so strong, she is able to break him away from the power of IT. They are all tessered back to Earth. Mrs. Whatsit tries to tell them that they need to go somewhere, but is unable to finish her sentence before she disappears.
Reading this book has been a long time coming for me. I heard of it a long time ago, but until recently, didn’t realize that it was written by a Christian author. Yes, I said Christian. So if that is a turn off to you, then this may not be the read for you as it has a strong Christian influence. I, however, hope that each and every person decides to pick up this read because it has something to offer anyone of any background. Messages being portrayed and those learned by the characters are too good to pass up.
A Wrinkle in Time is set initially on Earth, but the town which Meg lives isn’t named. From there, the plot jumps to different worlds including Uriel, Camazotz, and Ixchel. There isn’t a lot to say about the world building. We get a more defined image of Camazotz than anywhere, but a lot is left to the imagination. Each world varies immensely from one another. Uriel is a place of mythical beings and fantasy. Camazotz is technically-inclined, and Ixchel is straight from the belly of the Sci-Fi genre.
Pacing & Readability
While the plot is consistent, it is consistently slow-going. From the way I perceived it, when something did happen, it happened rapidly and without much explanation or walk-through. I felt that certain areas, especially the finale, could have been drawn out much more, and ended in not so “perfect” of a way. It seemed too easy…perhaps I am jaded.
Point-of-View & Characters
A Wrinkle in Time is told from the third-person point of view, but mainly hovers over Meg’s character. Being the main protagonist, we learn most about Meg’s character and get to know her the best. It’s a bit disappointing, because Charles Wallace is incredibly intriguing. Meg’s other brothers, Sandy and Dennys Murray, hardly get any page time but didn’t do much to add to the plot either. Meg’s parents also aren’t delved into with much depth, besides the fact that their work on the tesseract is extremely important.
Calvin, a schoolmate of Meg’s, comes from a large family where he isn’t noticed much. A jock at school, Meg hasn’t interacted with him much. But when she and Charles Wallace come across him at the haunted house, he tags along on their adventure. Throughout the book, Calvin becomes romantically interested in thirteen-year-old Meg, who reciprocates the feelings.
The Mrs. W’s are an interesting, mysterious lot. My first instinct was to think that Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit represented the Holy Trinity. The three are billions of years old, and they possess qualities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But reading further, it’s clear that they are only supernatural beings, like guardian angels to the trio, as they also give praise to God throughout.
IT, a massive disembodied brain, and The Black Thing, a black cloud that shrouds overtaken worlds are the antagonists in the story. Representing all things evil, IT desires to control all and enslave humanity to its bidding.
⇒ The dangers of Group Think:
People who love freedom will love this major theme throughout the book. When the trio arrives on Camazotz, they are confronted by a rather odd scene. Everything, and everyone is in sync. They move mechanically, identically. Then, a glitch occurs with a kid who loses control of his ball, and that is when the trio realizes the true danger that they are facing.
The idea that one mind controls all other is terrifying. There is no freedom of thought, individuality, or even faults. In this world where IT has taken over, a nearly perfect dictatorship occurs, where no one can deviate from IT’s influence in any way.
⇒ Love conquers all:
As always, love is the answer. Not cutesy love, but deep, selfless, and sacrificial love, which Meg demonstrates when she returns to Camazotz to free her brother Charles from IT’s influence.
⇒ Good vs. Evil – Parallels to Christianity:
The theme of good vs. evil is obviously an overarching theme. The Mrs. W’s are the forces of good, guiding Meg and the gang through strategies to overcome the forces of evil. However, the guardians cannot defeat the evil themselves and require Meg, her brother, and Calvin to step up in order to overcome evil. References to God and the Bible are prevalent throughout this book and serve as inspirational, motivational, and instructional influences for the characters.
⇒ Interactions of science and faith:
Yes, you read that right. In a world that is constantly trying to prove that these to subjects don’t belong in the same realm, L’Engle shows that they do, and they can. Inspired by her studies in quantum physics, she created a science-infused story combined with Christianity.
Things that I liked:
⇒ The overall creativity.
⇒ There is room allowed for imagination (the story is not overtold!)
⇒ The meaning and purpose.
Things that I didn’t like:
⇒ Meg’s overall disposition and unlikeability.
⇒ The pacing, and lack of some detail in important areas (as in the world building.)
⇒ Calvin and Meg’s insta-lovey relationship.
I’m glad I took so long to getting around to this review. When I initially finished reading this book, I wasn’t blown away by it. However, now that I’ve had a lot of time for it to stew, I find that I appreciate it more and more…and more. L’Engel’s perceptiveness of the world is obvious and majorly contributes to the overall awesomeness that A Wrinkle in Time reflects.
I read another of L’Engle’s books last year, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art where she discusses her artistic expression and how it coincides with her faith. In that book, she talks about her journey (because it took a while to get this series published) with A Wrinkle in Time. Majority of the people who turned her down thought the series was too strange. However, (and I agree with L’Engle) I believe it’s because this book was misunderstood. There is true brilliance behind this concept, that it may just take the freedom of a child’s mind to grasp. As adults, our thoughts become adulterated with perceptions that we miss the grander scheme of things. There were times when I was wishing for more detail, then I realized that that’s the point: we are supposed to use our imagination when we read. The main reason I gave this book only three and a half stars was because I wasn’t a big fan of Meg as the protagonist, and found her quite irritating. Despite that fact, I really enjoyed the overall concept and would recommend this read to anyone.
Sexual content: None.