Top Ten: A Wrinkle in Time

Cover of a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Art by Taeeun Yoo.
Art by Taeeun Yoo. Click to read a preview!

Title: A Wrinkle In Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Nutshell: Meg Murray has woes. Her father disappeared during a science experiment. Her younger brother is bullied. Her teachers think she cheats. And she is at the age where she is growing into everything, gawky, flyaway, peering at the world through glasses. She wants her father to come home and solve all her problems. She’s about to find out that sometimes instead of being rescued, you have to be the rescuer.

A strange woman comes to visit Meg. The visitor, Mrs. Whatsit, seems to have an uncanny connection to her little brother, and a profound knowledge of Meg’s father. Intrigued, Meg and Charles Wallace meet Mrs. Whatsit and two of her friends at their home to talk about their father.

It turns out, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which aren’t people, and they aren’t from earth. They’re from distant planets, and Meg’s father is trapped out there. The children must travel across the galaxy to save him.

Readalikes: The Space Trilogy, by C. S. Lewis, is like this. Very like. The Giver, by Lois Lowry and the Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie are the closest of the dystopias to the dystopia section. 

Ramblings:

Wrinkle is another book I’m not sure what to say about. I read this when I was very young and it’s very foundational to my personal cannon. It’s an odd blend: part space exploration, part sibling adventure, and part dystopian fantasy. The dystopia might seem fairly ordinary to readers who rode the dystopian wave of a year or two ago, when Hunger Games was king, but you must remember that L’Engle’s was much, much earlier.

The space exploration aspect has a mechanic that I am not familiar with from any other science fiction work (though the scientific principles do make appearances here and there), and if a reader knows of an example I would love to hear about it.

The space travel works on a principle I cannot really understand, though it is laid forth simply in the book. Based on a five-dimensional structure, the mechanic, tessering, allows people to fold space, apparently without any technology whatsoever. It’s as if, once you really understand how space is shaped, you’re able to manipulate it. It’s quite elegant.

I’m really fond of Mrs. L’Engle’s characters. Meg is a geek, and always seemed to me like someone who I would be great friends with. Charles Wallace is an alarmingly intelligent little boy, which is always great fun to watch in action. And Calvin isn’t stunningly intelligent (he’s by no means dumb) but has strength and honor and possibly a bit more of the practical sense to balance out the intellectuals.

I’m also really fond of how poetic space travel is. This is really more of a Space Fantasy than “real” science fiction, but really any space travel book is pretty fantastic, and I like how this one works. Its based on as much science as many other sci-fi books are, after all. It’s just very classic, and that’s what I like about it.

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