A post! About books! YES!

For your reading pleasure, a Five in One book review!

A Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle

  • YA Fantasy
  • Paperback box set, gift from my sweet husband
  • PopSugar Challenge Category: A book from childhood

Overall: I think the books were out of order, and sometimes things weren’t carried forward accurately (something you’d not notice if you didn’t consume them one after the other like they are a giant Hershey bar and you’re premenstrual). There’s lots of religion – it’s a common theme through the whole series. It gets annoying at times, but mostly I was left with a feeling the Madeleine L’Engle did an excellent job of balancing faith and science. I have loved these characters since I was in fourth or fifth grade and yes, they stand the test of time. I’m really glad I re-read (or read for the first time in two cases) the series. Totally worth it.

Book 1: A Wrinkle in Time

Summary: Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, brother and sister, team up with their new friend Calvin O’Keefe and three very interesting ladies to save the world, or at least a small part of the world. Using a technology called “tesseract,” which is basically combining space and time in your head to get to the fifth dimension, they move through space to rescue their dad from a communist-type world that has succumbed to the darkness.

This is, bar none, my favorite book from my childhood. I love the idea of kids who aren’t “normal” doing amazing things, taking risks, going far above and beyond. I love the science fiction combined and fantasy combination that L’Engle has going on here. This book is also the start of many (not just the ones in this quintet) that she uses to show a sort of balance of faith and science. The overall theme is one of a battle between light and dark, which could also be good and evil. I also love the characters, especially Aunt Beast. She’s featured in my dreams since I first read this (I think I was ten).

The sheer goodness of this book: the writing, the fact that Meg as the central character is real enough to throw temper tantrums, the descriptions of the planets they visit and their three helpers – none of these have paled with my maturity or with my numerous readings of this book. I find the references definitely dated now and am less enthused by the more faith-based aspects of the book, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a good story, with writing that’s far above what you might otherwise get in a YA book.

Book 2: A Wind in the Door

Summary: Charles Wallace is very ill. With the help of a cherubim, Meg and Calvin along with the much-maligned elementary school principal Mr. Jenkins, do a little inner-space exploration to try to make him better. This will, in turn, help to balance darkness and lightness again. Because Charles Wallace is just that important.

I’m guessing this is the second or third time I’ve read this book. It’s good, but it’s no Wrinkle in Time. I love the idea of them going inside Charles Wallace’s cells, and I love the science of it all (of course!). I also love that the fate of the entire world – heck, the UNIVERSE, is once again in the hands of a bunch of kids. Well, plus a grumpy principal. There are some scenes that stick out for me, for now anyway: Mr. Jenkins splitting into three and the farandolae dancing like dervishes are my favorites. What I don’t like about this one is the even more heavy-handed religious overtones. As I was reading it, I kept thinking cut that out already. Little did I know what was awaiting me….

Book 3: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Summary: Mr. Murray gets a call from the President that the leader of a small, south American country has somehow obtained a nuclear warhead and is planning to start World War III. Charles Wallace, along with a friendly unicorn, must travel through time, making subtle changes in the past that will make incremental changes that will, in current time, stop the madman with the bomb.

This is the first in the quintet that I’d never read before. I LOVED it. Again, religion and faith. Again, darkness and lightness and angels and evil. But! What a fascinating story. It’s the first time that the tesseract is used to travel in time and not space, so that’s an awesome carryover from the first two books. It also relies heavily on what the call “kything” which is sort of like mind-reading but not quite. I loved the places (times) that CW visited – the descriptions were amazing. I just loved this book. The reason I didn’t read it before is when I was on my L’Engle kick many years ago, it was Meg I was following. I read everything with her in it so this one was skipped.

Some other awesome stuff: Characters that continue through the timeline and pop up in different forms. A unicorn with sass. Time travel. It was easier to stomach the faith stuff because I could put it in perspective for the times he visited. Plus it’s about time CW got to be the hero. What I didn’t like: no Calvin!

Book 4: Many Waters

Summary: For the first time ever, the normal middle sibling twins in the Murry family, Sandy and Dennys, get in on the action. While poking around their dad’s computer, they click something and are whisked way back in time. They hang out with Noah and his family and get to experience the very beginning of humans choosing dark over light.

This was another in the quintet that I’d never read and, like the last one, I found it simply amazing. There weren’t faith overtones here, there was straight up religion, of course. It’s a retelling of a Bible story, after all. And it’s a fascinatingly good retelling. I loved getting to “know” the normally overlooked Murry twins. I loved the angels who hang out with the people. I loved the relationships that the faithful had with their God. I found myself feeling that if such a pure and sweet religion existed today, I might find my way back to it. But the story is one that might be echoing forward to today: people screwed it all up so God shook things up like an etch-a-sketch and started it all over.

They should have left the cockroaches behind.

I found parallels to Eve by Elissa Elliott, a book I read earlier this year. There’s something I find rather enjoyable about the retelling of a familiar story in a new and interesting way. In this go-round of L’Engle’s books, this one was my favorite.

Book 5: An Acceptable Time

Summary: Meg and Calvin’s daughter Polly has been sent to live with her grandparents in New England, and finds herself in a bit of a precarious situation when she follows a family friend through a time portal into prehistory. Once there, she wants to help a friend and save herself at the same time.

Another time traveler! I’d read this before, a few times, and still love it. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember why Polly was sent to live with the Murrys, and drawing a blank. Maybe I should go back and read the other Meg books? Or maybe I should give YA a break for a bit?

Anyway! There’s whining! A LOT of whining! There’s smart girls, saving the entire universe! There’s the Murrys as grandparents, and in a much more central role than in the other books. There’s bunsen burner stew, tesseract as traps, fantasy, and haunted swimming pools! Pretty mush a whole lotta awesome packed into one little book, right?

Currently reading

  • The Odyssey by Homer (for school – a really good translation
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth (book 3 in the Divergent series, and YA, right?)
  • An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfied Jamison (mostly hibernating)

On Deck

I honestly have no clue what I’m going to read next. I have some stacked up on my Kindle from the library and BookBub, and a pile of “real” books yet to get through from a recent shopping frenzy. So many choices!

Springtime…

…when a middle aged woman’s heart turns to mush, apparently.

I am feeling introspective and am not setting out on this little writing journey with plans to talk books or yarn. Either or both may come up, but my brain is really elsewhere.

I feel as if I am always busy, but when I actually think about it, I spend hours immersed in books (okay that was fast) and while reading is more than fundamental, it lacks a certain feel of activity. Unless I am reading in a sauna, which I don’t think would be a great idea for either paper or electronic books, reading tends to be a sweat-free sport. And it produces nothing that is physically recognizable or practically useful. In other words, it could be a great waste of time.

At the same time, I am finding myself nearing addiction to random Facebook games. How on earth does this happen to me? How do I let myself waste hours in what is really useless and non-productive? I worry about this often. I would be better off watching television, which I really don’t do, not much at any rate. Maybe an hour or two a week and always with a project in hand being actively worked, so that time is not wasted. But the stupid games? Stupid. Useless. And I am not sure how to stop doing it. And I must, like now, for my own peace of mind among a host of other reasons, like my kitchen floor and my lonely iron and the front stoop that is home to a bazillion helicopters, those lovely gifts from our friends the maple trees.

So how do I do it? I’m not ready to ax Facebook altogether, it is an easy way to keep up with my family. I am not fond of talking on the phone at all, I prefer a lack of noise, typically, and therefore love electronic communication. I also really love looking at people’s babies and kittens and puppies. Do I figure out some other method of communication (can you still buy stationery sets?) and just delete my Facebook? I think instead that I am going to try something a little more surgically precise – blocking and removing games. As they come up, I’ll block them. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to move on to something bigger and bolder. Perhaps I can convince my mom and friends to go to MySpace, where the temptation will be much lower. Does MySpace even still exist?

If I remember (note the bit about the mush brain, above), I’ll follow up and let you know if this little excision works. If it does, I will get a whole lot more reading done. Or maybe I should just plan to read again in October.

Speaking of reading, which I do, a lot, there are two nearly-finished books calling my name. The windows are open, birds are singing outside, the ceiling fan is stirring the air. My little living room is (mostly) clean and my books are close at hand, so what am I waiting for?

Until next time… play a round for me!