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review 2018-06-25 22:08
An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet, #5) by Madeleine L'Engle
An Acceptable Time (The Time Quintet, #5 ) - Madeleine L'Engle

It's been a while, but I am back! I finally finished the Time Quintet. It took me a while but I finally did it! I've had a lot of issues with this series and for that, I did not feel motivated to finish this last book. However, I am here today with my review of An Acceptable Time. Let's get this show on the road!

 

In this book, we follow Meg and Calvin's daughter named Polly. She moved in with her grandparents to get a better education with them when she discovered a time portal to the past. Intrigued, she makes it her personal mission to find out more about her connection to the people living 3000 years in the past and what her friend from the present, a sick boy named Zachary, has to do with it all. 

 

Alright. The actual premise of this book is rather interesting. Much like a lot of L'Engle's books are. I enjoyed learning about the Ogam stones and the language spoken by the People of the Wind. I also really like the culture surrounding them as a group of people living in the past. Now, with that comes the issue of race. L'Engle has a problem with referring to Native Americans as "Indians" or as "savages" and that never sat right with me. She did that as well in previous books. I know some will make the excuse that it "was a different time" and, yes, I understand that. However, I don't have to agree nor like nor excuse that type of language when it comes to addressing a different group of people. It's racist. Plain and simple.

 

Another problem I had with this book is Zachary. Oh... my... word... I do not like his abusive, manipulative, gaslighting, misogynistic tendencies. I do not like him as a person. The way he treated Polly was downright awful. And Polly is actually a great character! A much better improvement over her mother, Meg. The only problem I had with Polly was with how she let Zachary treat her as a lesser person. Why? Because he's sick? That's no excuse! He claimed to love her. He claimed to want to be with her. But the first chance he gets, he's willing to give her up to be sacrificed. He questioned her loyalty to him every chance he got. He tried to make her feel guilty for not wanting to be with him because he was "dying." Look, I know he's sick and that sucks, but Polly doesn't owe him anything. She doesn't have to be in a relationship with him just because he's ill. That's not a good enough reason to be in a relationship. There's also the fact that the moment they went back in time, he saw another girl, and right away was "interested" in her. So much for caring about Polly. He's a coward who abuses women and I think he's trash. Zachary was my main problem with this entire book and because he is one of the central characters in the book, he's there for quite a bit of it. Which is a downer.

 

Another of my main problems was with Polly's grandparents, Alex and Kate Murray. They've been in the previous books. They have been surrounded by weird time loops and portals for years now. They are not strangers when it comes to the bizarre existence of different time periods suddenly popping up. But for some reason they had a hard time believing that going back 3000 years was actually possible! What!? How!? How can someone who created the bloody tesseract not believe that one of his closest friend and his grandchild were able to travel through time! They blamed the Bishop that he was insane and putting stories into their granddaughter's head! How inconsistent to the previous books can you get? It was obnoxious and unbelievable for the history of the characters that was created in the previous books.

 

At this point, you know I have issues with this book series. I started off reading these books because the movie was coming out and I really wanted to read the book before seeing the movie. The first book started off well. It wasn't perfect but I liked it well enough to continue reading the rest of the series... and it just went downhill from there. It really is a "product of its time" and it definitely needs to be read with a very critical eye. It has its interesting ideas, but the way L'Engle handles sensitive issues is very poor. I do think it's worth reading at least once through so that way you know the story. However, this is not a series that I will ever be revisiting. There are plenty of other books out there. Better books for children and adults alike that should be read over this. This series is a favorite for many people and that's great. But, for me, I'm going to have to skip out on the rest of the books L'Engle has written for the series after this fifth one. I read the main quintet and that's good enough for me.

 

Like I said, I think you should read this series at least once. Just for those interesting ideas. Other than that, read it with a critical eye. And if your child is reading it, let your child know that a lot of the language used to describe anyone who is not white, is NOT the proper way to described them. Be involved and I think the reading experience will go well. Hopefully, you end up enjoying the time theories if nothing else. Those, I think, are worth exploring at least.

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review 2018-04-30 15:58
A Wrinkle In Time (L'Engle)
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This is a book I might have grown very attached to if I’d read it at nine or ten years of age. In those days, I would have glommed on to the brainy Daddy’s-girl main character and enjoyed the vaguely mythical shape of the story (3-Fates-like grandma figures and all), despite the fact that the book’s too short to indulge in much detailed world-building. A few years later, I would definitely have enjoyed the presence of the irritating but too-cute baby brother, although my own does not have dramatic mind-reading capabilities, as far as I know. As an adult, I am bothered by the fact that it’s too Christian and too American for my tastes; as a child, that probably would have passed muster with me, since I was far less judgmental and disenchanted in those days.

 

The emotional centre of this novel is that ghastly moment in each child’s life when they (we) discover that a parent they idolize is human and grossly fallible. It's very distressing, as a child, to find out that adults are impotent in the face of the world's overwhelming evils. The solution to the overwhelming evil in this book - simply and quite impressively named IT - is one that is cliche'd in literature, theology and popular song: love conquers everything. I've read and heard it too many times to find any sense or comfort in it (again, my 9-year-old self would probably have reacted more favourably.) However, it was quite an enjoyable short read, and I can completely understand how if someone read it in their formative years they would cling to it as a favourite book. Within a clear and straightforward narrative, it addresses a lot of the knotty philosophical questions that bubble to the surface of a thoughtful child's mind.

 

Besides, it's enormously helpful in understanding the concept of warp drive in Star Trek!

 

Christian and American biases notwithstanding, I would give this as a gift to a child without hesitation - particularly if she were a brainy Daddy's-girl.

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review 2018-04-29 23:29
Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) by Madeleine L'Engle
Many Waters - Madeleine L'Engle

Oh dear... these books are not going to get any better, are they? I continue to read this series because I liked the first book. I thought the ideas were intriguing enough that I wanted to see more and more of this world. But it would seem the more I read, the more disappointed I become. Many Waters is no exception. 

 

This installment follows the twins, Sandy and Dennys, two of my least favorite characters in the entire series. They have been in the previous books, as well, but more like side characters. I always thought they were bland and Many Waters confirm that they are. They don't even have personalities. In fact, they act as if they are one person. Nothing they do distinguishes them as individual people. They also have a snotty attitude and can be rude for no apparent reason. Especially to the people around them. Saying things like the "small, brown people don't bathe." I don't even have to point out how that's a very harmful stereotype.

 

Let me back track a bit so you can understand what I'm talking about. The twins, after having messed around with their father's experiment, travel back in time to Noah's (from the bible) time where he must build the ark to escape from the flood. So the twins are in this time period, stuck in the desert, where everyone is small (because evolution hasn't kicked in yet, I guess) and brown and only wear loincloths (in the desert...). And the twins make it a point to say these small, brown people don't bathe. I have had a problem with racism in these books in the past and it seems that it's a theme that's just going to continue throughout. And, just like in the previous book, sexism is prevalent throughout as well.

 

But, and here's the confusing part, there's also talk about how a lot of things said within the bible is chauvinistic and unfair towards women since Noah is only to build the ark for all the animals and himself, his wife, his sons, and all their wives, but not for his daughters. Now, I don't really mind all the religious aspects these books contain. We all have our own beliefs and religions we follow (or don't follow). What bothers me are the contradictions contain within them. The women in these books are either cooking or taking care of the men or having babies (there's a scene where a birth and it is described in graphic detail) and that's all they amount to. The main female character in this book, Yalith, is there to created conflict between the two twins because they both develop feelings for her. So, you see, the women are mere plot devices to further the story for the men. But then the book goes on to say how women are not treated fairly in the bible and that Noah and the seraphim (the good angels) should go against what was written in the bible. Really? It's like L'Engle wanted to point out certain flaws within the bible without realizing she was perpetuating those exact same flaws.

 

Back to the sexism. There is also another female character in the book named Tiglah. Her sole purpose: to seduce the twins so the nephilim (the bad angels) can find out why the twins have traveled back in time. That's it. She is someone who is depicted as being "terrible" because she is with the nephilim, does what her father and brother says, and is comfortable with her sexuality. Throughout the entire story, she is mistreated by the twins, saying she is an "easy lay" and even going as far as calling her a "slut." It's been a while since I've read a book that slut-shamed a character so hard that, even though you're not supposed to sympathize with her as the reader, I couldn't help doing so. I know that she stood by the sidelines whilst her father and brother kidnapped Sandy, but she said so herself: if she interfered, they would have killed her. And I'm incline to believe her, considering how common it is to mistreat women in this world. Tiglah did not deserve to be treated so harshly by the twins and I hate that it is treated as natural to slut-shame her within the narrative. 

 

Speaking of sex, there sure is a lot of it for a book that's aimed for kids. As I said before, this is a society living in the desert and in this desert, the people only wear loincloths (I know, makes no sense but we're suppose to roll with in). Meaning that people's top-halves are uncovered which means that women's breasts are very prominently featured within the text. Nudity in books do not bother me, I just thought it was misplaced since this is supposed to be a book for kids. Not to mention there are quite a few sex scenes as well. It doesn't go into too much graphic detail, but it's still there. It just seemed odd to have it in the story since the previous three books did not contain such topics. But because the main characters were "normal teenage boys" I guess sex was inevitable. (I'm being sarcastic, by the way.)

 

Anyway, I've rambled long enough. This book is just not for me. I keep reading hoping these books will get better but no. I only have one more book in this series left to read so I am going to finish it. Hopefully, the last one contains all the good things that the first book had and none of the things these last two books had. If you've read the previous three books and want to read this one, go ahead. Just keep in mind that this one is not as kid-friendly as the previous three. And, hopefully, you end up liking it more than I did.

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review 2018-04-22 20:45
A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time Quintet, #3) by Madeleine L'Engle
A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle

The further I progress into this series, the further downhill it goes. I had so many issues with this book. Not a single thing I read made it redeemable in the least. I know this is a beloved series for many people and if you really like this book, that's great. I'm authentically happy you enjoy this book. However, I found so many problems with it that I just can't overlook them.

 

Let's start off with Meg. Her only purpose in this book was to be "Calvin's wife" and "pregnant." That's it. Whilst her parents were off being cool scientists, her father being the president's new best friend, her brothers off to medical school and law school, all she was doing was... well, she kythe with Charles Wallace whilst he was off trying to save the planet from nuclear devastation... and that's pretty much it. Meg did absolutely nothing throughout the whole book except complain that she missed her husband and ask her brothers for help because she can't be bothered to open a book.

 

In fact, that was one of the biggest problems I had with this book. The women were only there to be plot devices for the men. The women were only there to be beautiful, to be desired after, to "take care" of the men, to fall for abusive men, to marry abusive men, to get pregnant by the abusive men. Even when it was shown that these men were clearly abusive, one of these abusive men even killed a puppy, these women found them "alluring." Are you bloody kidding me? Who sees a puppy killer and then go "mmm, yeah, I want that in my bed"? No one in their right mind, that's who! Oh, and don't get me started on Mortmain! He was truly the lowest of the low! He beat on his partner, then sexually harassed his partner's daughter, then went to strike that young girl's grandmother only to hit her brother instead to where he fell down the stairs and ended up with brain damage... only for the mother of these kids to marry and get pregnant from this man because it made their lives easier to have a man in the house!!! What!? After all that, you're going to still stay with this man!? He should be in jail!

 

Also, let's add that once this boy is out of the hospital, they call him stupid and put him in an insane asylum because "no one" wants him to hurt this brand new baby. This other guy, named Paddy, wanted to lock him up because he just didn't like dealing with someone with brain damage. I know... these people are horrible. The issue of mental health is handle so poorly. This boy, Chuck, had a sister, Beezie, and she kept telling him to stop acting and pretending about his condition... Hello!!! He fell down a flight of stairs! He fractured his skull! He is suffering from brain damage! He can't control that! How are you going to tell him to stop pretending!? Moron. Oh, and that guy, Paddy? Yeah, after he helps put her brother away in the insane asylum, she goes and marries the guy, have a bunch of kids with him... but it's okay because she doesn't fall in love with him or the kids she gives birth to... WHERE'S THE LOGIC IN THAT!? 

 

The women in this book only serve to further the plot for the men. And it's so infuriating.

 

And you think the bullshit ends there. Oh no. As if the sexism and ableism isn't enough, let's add racism, too! The depiction of Native Americans is troubling. They are called the People of the Wind and it is said within the text that they are peace-loving people. But the moment two white guys enter the picture, these "peace-loving people" want to fight "like savages." (And, yes, the white guys call the Native Americans "savages." I cringed, too.) It was the white guy with blond hair and blue eyes (because anyone with blue eyes is a pure, loving soul) who brought peace among the "peace-loving" nation. Not only are there moments that play into the "white savior" trope, there's "white worshiping" too. How their "legend" talks of someone with white skin and blue eyes will come to save the Native Americans in their time of need. I just... I can't. 

 

And the last thing I want to mention was how dull everything in this book is. We follow Charles Wallace and his role is to go Within the many white dudes in this story to try and influence them to change the threat of nuclear war in the present. Aside from the first guy we go into, everything else just kinda happens... without Charles Wallace doing anything. In fact, he does pretty much nothing throughout the story besides travelling with the unicorn, Gaudior (which is still more than what Meg is doing but I digress). Charles Wallace was mostly there to let things happen to him. Not to mention he never put a stop to the abusive talk that went on (Charles, how are you going to hear someone say "he kept him from dying, and that may not have been a kindness" only because he now has to live with brain damage, and not question it in the slightest?) but did question it when it came to his own intelligence. Because, remember, all the men are intelligent in this book. Only the women are stupid.

 

Ugh, I hate this book. There's nothing that happened in this book that I find the least enjoyable. Where the other two books had some interesting concepts when it comes to the sci-fi elements, this one reuses the one good thing that was made in book two. Kything. Everything else? Boring. We were travelling through time on a unicorn, and I was bored and infuriated throughout the entire journey. It's such a shame.

 

I only have two more books in the series left to read. I really hope they improve with its storytelling and themes. Otherwise, I'm going to find this quite a struggle to get through.

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text 2018-04-04 00:53
A Wrinkle In Time
A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle

Warning – mild spoilers for the 2018 movie version of A Wrinkle In Time.

 

I remember loving the A Wrinkle In Time in late Elementary  School (and it was only a trilogy then not the quintet it eventually became). But with the years and so many other books in the interim, the details were hazy. So I listened to the audiobook version last month so that the story would be fresh before I went to see the movie.

 

The story of A Wrinkle In Time has weathered the intervening years relatively well and worked well as an audiobook (though there were moments when dragging out the words of the incorporeal Mrs. Which got a bit tedious).  When I was a child, I was tone-deaf to the overt theology sprinkled throughout, but it really stood out to my adult ears. Still, it doesn’t detract from the basic story or from the prickly/lovable characters themselves.  I still love the image of Mrs. Murry cooking stew over a Bunsen burner in the lab and Meg stole my heart. 

 

Even as short a book as A Wrinkle In Time is too much material for a movie, and they left out about 2/3 of the nuances of the book in the Ava DuVernay adaptation currently in the theaters. I do question some of the choices of what to show and what to cut in the book (why does it matter if Mrs. Whatzit stole the neighbor’s sheets if you don't know why - and at the expense of the wonderful visual of the too many scarves and hats during the storm? Why cut the twins, doesn’t that cut out options necessary to make movies from the subsequent books? Where was Aunt Beast?)

But in general, knowing that simplification is unavoidable, I was pleased with how the movie captured the spirit of the book, except for one thing.  I didn't like cutting Calvin out of the rescue of Mr. Murry and the final conflict with IT. From my perspective, the message of the original book was "Love and teamwork can conquer all." The movie transformed that into "Love and self-reliance can conquer all." Still a powerful message, and one that is very in-fashion, but not, quite, the same.

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