If you’re wondering why I’m already writing about the February assignment of the Sword&Laser book club: Well… January seems to have been the perfect reading month for me and I was able to finish five books where normally only one or two should have been possible.
Anyway, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle… Please note that the next paragraphs will contain spoilers. You have been warned 😉
This book is all about two children going out into the universe to find their dad and, while they’re at it, also save the universe from a mysterious darkness. But these two are not your normal school children. While the older girl is extremely talented with anything related to mathematics, she is a bit too impatient and emotional with pretty much anything else. On the other end of the spectrum is her little brother who is basically a genius-20-something trapped inside the body of a preschool boy.
During the first few pages you get to know these two as they lead their lives back at home with their loving mother, who is also a scientist, and their two brothers. Their father been on a top-secret mission from the last couple of years and nobody wants to tell them what happened to him.
When they meet three older ladies, who turn out to basically witches, who turn out to be beings from another world, they see a chance to go looking for their father and grab it. This is also where this books enters the science-fiction genre. The children with the help of their alien friends are able to travel more or less instantly between worlds far apart and thereby learn about a dark threat hanging over the universe who has also imprisoned their father.
This darkness manifests itself as an all-controlling power that attempts to bring peace to the universe by transforming the species under its rule into a uniform society. Free will/choice is no longer seen as a positive trait and therefore suppressed.
The children are basically pulled into the fight between the “friendly witches” and the darkness-bureaucracy in order to rescue their dad who has been imprisoned by the darkness.
To be honest, the book was far deeper than I would have thought at first. You notice right away that there are no purely good and evil forces at play here but that everything is just another shade of grey. The darkness makes quite a good case for why its way could bring peace to the universe.
In the end the boy tries to reason with the darkness (perhaps because he thinks he is strong enough to withstand it) while the girl completely opposes it. The struggle of both of them is tangible. I felt the conflict and the sorrow of both of them. Sadly the universe this all takes place in could have used a more detailed introduction. It feels more like “just a stage” for the struggle between free-will and safety than a real place. The jumping between worlds felt like a shortcut without providing enough perspective on the rest of the universe.
I’m still glad I’ve picked up this first book of the “Time Quintet” series, although I’m not sure if I will also read the others at this point. As the writing style was quite enjoyable, though, I might still do so. Just not right now 🙂