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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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review 2018-04-03 00:17
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This is my first time reading this book. It was a decent read. I liked Meg at the beginning, but she got on my last nerve with her constant shouting/crying statements that always end with an ! There was so much !!!!!! in the second half of the book its a wonder Meg didn't lose her voice. I loved Charles Wallace and Calvin - from their first conversation straight to the end. I don't understand why the twins were even mentioned, they didn't do anything in the book. The three witches were great, but I don't think we needed to have each line of Ms. Which having toooo bbbbbbbeeeeee ssssssoooooooommmmmeeeeetttthhhiiiiiinnnnggg that looks like that.

 

The religious tone of the book got heavy-handed in some parts, and owing to when the book was published, seem like another way to show how different Americans Earthlings were than the Soviets  people of Camazotz. 

 

Absolute favorite part of the book was when Meg understands that "Like" and "Equal" are not the same thing - I need to cross stitch that on a pillow! Overall though I am glad I read the book and will encourage my kids to read it when they are ready. 

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