Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

I read A Wrinkle in Time years ago and don’t remember it very well (with the exception of a scene where the humans were trying to explain sight to aliens who had no eyes). With the movie coming out in March, I decided to reread it. I got it out from the library back in December and started reading it on my break. Then I somehow managed to lose the book. :/

I started getting desperate, and even phoned a few stores I had been to and friends I had visited, just on the off chance that I had left it there. No luck. I finally found it in a weird spot under my bed - it had fallen against the wall by the window, and was behind a bunch of books that were under there. I have since cleaned up under the bed; there are no longer any books under there, so this should never happen again!

So with that whole fiasco behind me, I also had to get through the holidays and another commitment this past weekend. I’ve also been playing video games a lot rather than read. So last night I finally sat down and started rereading A Wrinkle in Time. I managed to finish it a few hours later (I was planning on stopping, but at that point I was so close to being finished that I just continued on).

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Meg, her little brother, Charles Wallace, and their new friend Calvin. Meg’s father has been missing for about a year and the whole town is talking (they all believe he has run off with another woman). Meg is a bit of an oddball, and has a hard time fitting in. Her younger brother is believed to be mute, but is quite intelligent (he just chooses not to speak much to other people). Their twin brothers (who are between Meg and Charles Wallace in age) are rather average (or at least content to seem average).

During a hurricane, Meg, Charles Wallace, and their mother find themselves in their kitchen when they get an unexpected visitor - a strange lady named Mrs. Whatsit appears at their door, having been blown off course. The next day, Meg and Charles Wallace go to visit her; she and a few other ladies have taken up residence in the nearby haunted house. On their way there, they encounter Calvin, who had a strange feeling that he needed to go to the haunted house as well. After speaking with Mrs. Who, one of the other ladies, the three children head back to their house. Later that night, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which arrive and spirit everyone off through time and space to go and save Meg and Charles’ father (and hopefully save the universe or something? The book kept saying more was at stake but I’m not really sure how or why?)

There was an amusing moment where Mrs. Which lands everyone on a 2D planet.  They can't stay though because the children can't survive there. 

To travel through time and space, the immortal ladies (who are stars? Or something? I don’t really know what they were - Mrs. Whatsit was a centaur-angel or something? But later said she was a star who gave her life? Yeah, it confused me. Were Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which the same things? The book never really said.) “wrinkle” time. This was a concept Meg’s father was working on and had discussed with her mom - that there was a fifth dimension, a tesseract, and that you could travel through manipulating it (I apologize, I’m probably butchering this explanation). It’s a really neat concept - it lets you get somewhere much faster rather than travelling the long way from star to star.

Here's the ant on a string diagram the book used to explain the concept:

So somewhere along the way, Mrs. Whatsit shows the children the big evil black thing (I have no idea what it is beyond a black thing). It is around the Earth, but people fight it with art and science and enlightenment. They then travel to Camazotz, a place ensnared by the black thing. Everyone behaves identically (and if you don't you're punished as an aberration).  The children then encounter IT, the central intelligence that controls everything, first through a man.  In trying to divine ITs true nature, Charles Wallace ventures too deep and becomes lost in IT.  Charles Wallace (controlled by IT) then brings Meg and Calvin to Meg's father.  She manages to get him out of the holding cell he's in using Mrs. Who's glasses.  Charles Wallace then brings everyone to IT.  Mr. Murray manages to get everyone (except Charles Wallace) away by tessering.  They encounter the aliens who cannot see, who nurse Meg back to health (she was the worst off in the showdown with IT).  This is also where that conversation I remember reading years ago happens.

Everyone then makes plans to go save Charles Wallace (with Meg throwing temper tantrums because she doesn't think they're wanting to go save him - she blames her father, who she thought would fix everything, for leaving him behind).  Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which arrive around this point.  Meg figures out that it has to be her to go back to save Charles Wallace, because he doesn't know their father at all and only barely knows Calvin.  Mrs. Which brings her (because Mrs. Which is far better at wrinkling time than her father is).  Meg returns to IT, where Charles Wallace is waiting.  She uses the power of her love to free him from IT.  Then they all go home. 

I found the end to be a super abrupt thing - I expected a little more of something (especially since the black thing wasn't exactly defeated).

So that was A Wrinkle in Time.  I feel about the same reading it now as I did many years back - it's got some super interesting concepts, but as a whole the narrative isn't very engaging (hence why I forgot most of what happened beyond that conversation with the sightless alien about what it's like to see).  I looked a bit into the rest of the quintet, but they honestly don't sound interesting enough for me to continue reading the series, especially since this book itself was really just okay.  If it had grabbed me more, I would have probably continued with book 2, but as things are, no thanks.

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