A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle



Goodreads: A Wrinkle in Time
Series: Time Quintet #1
Source: Library
Published: 1962


Meg Murry’s father went missing years ago during his experiments with the fifth dimension.  Now, Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their new friend Calvin are going on an adventure through space to bring him home.


“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”

I have never liked A Wrinkle in Time.  I did not like it as a child and I do not like it now that I have reread it as an adult.  I understand that it is a children’s classic beloved by many.  I even understand that it is celebrated (or sometimes criticized) for its blend of science and Christianity, demonstrating that the two can coexist (though, honestly, I think the majority of people already know this).  But the fact remains: I do not like it.  I find it boring and simplistic without complex characterization.  It is, at least, mercifully short.

A friend suggested to me that this book appeals to children and teens who feel out of place or who have difficult relationships with their parents.  I can see that this might be so.  Still, Meg does not resonate for me as a character.  I do not mind her stubbornness or her anger–sticking points for many.  I simply do not  find her an interesting character.  She starts out stubborn and she ends that way, without readers ever really getting a chance to see her channel her faults into a positive avenue in her regular life. I wanted to see her return to school and advocate for herself, not just hug everyone at the end like it’s all good now because the family is reunited.

The other characters are  just as boring.  Calvin is a nonentity, brought into the story solely to act as the love interest for Meg.  He’s ostensibly good at communication, but we don’t get to see him have any success with this on the journey.  Otherwise, he seems pretty poor at communication, calling Charles Wallace a “moron” (at first in earnest, later presumably as a sign of affection) and indicating to Meg’s father that Meg is…not as intelligent as the rest of them.  Charles Wallace is probably the most interesting character, but quickly leaves the story once he’s taken over by IT.

The rest of the story?  It’s not that interesting, sorry.  We don’t see enough of any one world to make it interesting.  I think this is because the worlds represent ideas more than they actually are worlds.  Some have seen Camazotz as a representation of communism; L’Engle seems to think it’s just about the need to celebrate difference.  Either way, Camazotz is an allegory, not a place.  Just as Aunt Beast’s world is a representation of an unfallen land, not a place.  I didn’t get the sense that there were other locations to explore, cultures to learn about, people to meet.  I got the idea that Aunt Beast and Co. are unfallen creatures and that’s what I think I was supposed to get.

I give L’Engle credit for publishing a sci-fi story with a female lead when that was unusual.  I give her credit for showing that Christianity and science coexist when people apparently also wondered about that.  And I give her credit for creating a heroine with whom many teenagers have sympathized.  But I still don’t enjoy the story.  It doesn’t feel like a story to me but a message.  And it isn’t a message that I felt had enough subtlety, depth, or new information to make me interested in hearing it.

3 Stars

34 thoughts on “A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

  1. Jheelam says:

    I was mildly curious about the book as the movie is releasing today. But now it seems, I should pick up my sci-fi carefully. Thanks for your review.


  2. TheBookHamster says:

    Thank God someone has this opinion! I feel the same, half of the book, boring, and I feel like I have a slump reading here! I do read other books in the same time, so I feel imensly guilty for every read when I skip this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy says:

    When I read this as a child, I remembered loving it and because of the movie coming out, I decided to give it another read. I completely agree with your review – it just wasn’t the same for me. Which is doubly disappointing as now I’m not sure I’ll go see the movie. I enjoyed reading your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      I thought about giving the movie a chance because it seems to have a good cast and I thought it would be nice to support it, but I have seen some disappointing reviews. If I watch it at all, it will probably be when it’s on TV in the distant future. :/


  4. Liv says:

    I totally relate. I bought this when I was younger hoping I would get into it but I felt the narrative was off, I didn’t like Meg and just couldn’t get into it, no matter how many times I put it down and picked it up. Meh :/


  5. Alex says:

    I first read this when I was pretty young, and I didn’t like it at all. I’ve been feeling kinda guilty and debating going back and rereading it for YEARS, especially because I’ve talked to people who’ve liked it! But this post confirmed for me that I definitely should not go back. Hopefully the movie is better than the book!


    • Krysta says:

      People keep raving to me about how it was their favorite childhood book and they’re going to check it out from the library again. It makes me feel quite like the odd one out. I’m so used to everyone loving this book that it seems weird to me that I don’t!


  6. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Ok I’ve got to admit, my response to this was *phew, I’m not crazy*- I read it because someone told me that it was “the best children’s book ever” recently and didn’t really connect with it. I also didn’t relate to Meg and I totally get what you mean about this feeling that it’s more message than story. Great review!


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