BOOK REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

 written by David Steffen

A Wrinkle in Time is a young adult science fiction novel written by Madeleine L’Engle and first published in 1962–it has been adapted for a movie that will come out in March 2018.

Thirteen-year-old Meg Murry is a smart girl, but who gets into trouble at school.  She excels at math, but not in the way her teachers want her to do the work.  She lives with her mother (a scientist) and her five-year-old brother Charles Wallace is a prodigy.  Her father (also a scientist) has been on a mysterious scientific mission for quite some time and Meg’s not sure when he’s coming back.  They encounter their eccentric new neighbor Mrs. Whatsit, who it soon turns out is a creature from another planet, one of a trio that are nearby. Mrs. Whatsit knows where Meg’s father is, and she knows that he’s in trouble.  Together with the neighbor boy Calvin they set out with Mrs. Whatsit and her friends to transport themselves to another planet and save Mr. Murry.

Like other science fiction books from this era, many of the ideas might seem familiar simply because we’ve read later books that were inspired by this one, which does make it harder to judge.  Also like other science fiction books from this era, there is a lot of explanation, what might be considered over-explaining in today’s publishing environment.  But overall this book ages better than other books of its time, in large part because of its focus on characters rather than nuts-and-bolts science.  I cared about Meg and her family and her friends, and I was rooting for them as they came across strange situations on strange worlds.  It’s a very short book, a very quick read finished within a week (which is very fast for me).  It’s fast-paced, never any dull time, and it has a reasonably tight arc from start to finish.  This book works as a standalone, introducing the characters and the situations and tying up the main arc, but there are four later books feature the Murry family (which I haven’t read, so I can’t comment on).  This is one of those classic books that I constantly hear people reference, so I wanted to read it for that reason alone, but I thought it held up better than average for a book of its time.

Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David also writes articles here and edits the fiction. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on Twitter for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

One thought on “BOOK REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle”

  1. The characters fixation on their idea of their own beauty, or lack of is worse than irritating. Charles Wallace though likable is positively freakish! Imagine a 5-year-old using the word “smug” and understanding its concept.

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