1963: A Wrinkle in Time (a lesson in tesseracting)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 3/5

A Wrinkle in Time is an undisputed children’s classic with a heavily plot-driven narrative, but its paper-thin characters and reliance on tropes left this story lacking in excitement.

I originally read this book in middle school off the recommendation of one of my best friends. It failed to move me then as it fails to move me now. The plot simply boils down to three children getting swept up in a quest to find Meg’s father. The kids, themselves, are never very proactive; most of the time the main trio were just told that they must do something, and they did it.

The problem for me is that A Wrinkle in Time almost moves too quickly. The children never stay in one place for too long as they are constantly jumping one place to the next. Madeleine L’Engle created an amazing and imaginative universe, but it never really came alive. The brainwashing threat failed to be a legitimate danger as the characters overcame the problem much too quickly. Meg, herself, never truly felt in danger because of the quick pace, and as a result, I felt more like an observer than an actual participant in the action.

The big bad of A Wrinkle in Time evokes no sense of menace at all. The Black Thing is built up to be the great evil of the universe, but the final showdown left me unsatisfied with the ending. Of course, love ends up saving the day, which is one trope that can make me roll my eyes.

Even the characters failed to draw me into the novel. Meg Murry and Calvin O’Keefe were fairly ordinary and banal, acting as the audience stand-in. Charles Wallace was the only character that was engaging to read about, but he gets taken out the plot fairly quickly. The antics of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which were sometimes maddening, with Mrs. Who regurgitating quotes ad nauseum and Mrs. Which’s stuttering dialogue.

I was hoping I would have a better reaction to reading this book as an adult than as a child. Back then, I hated science fiction while today I can tolerate it. Regardless, not everything in this book was mediocre as Laurinda’s review points out with her completely opposite reaction; it’s just that not every book can satisfy every reader. Nevertheless, I think A Wrinkle in Time is a great way for children to be introduced to the oft-maligned science fiction genre as its universal themes are found all throughout literature.

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