(Original review on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/32539.html)Why I Read It:
Last year, I re-read and enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time
for my Children's Literature class and then read (and also enjoyed) its sequel, A Wind in the Door
for an essay in the same class. I actually bought this back in the summer sometime, but just never got around to it. I started reading it around Christmas because I was working like crazy and didn't have a whole lot of time to read, so I thought this would be a good book to pick it up on account of its length.
As I mentioned above, I read and really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time
and A Wind in the Door
, so I was fairly excited to read the next book in the Time Quintet. I wanted more crazy original stories that has L'Engle's staple mix of science fiction and fantasy with a dash of feel-goodness that usually accompanies the religious tones of her work (and I'm not even religious). Unfortunately, what I got was a weird family epic where the Murrays didn't really do... anything. I was disappointed.
The first thing I want to mention, and this is really more of a nitpick, was how the Murray family was depicted. I find this strange because they're depicted in much the same way in the previous books of the series, but this time around, I found it equally comical and annoying just how PERFECT all the Murrays are. They're all SUPER SMART (everyone has PhDs in science!!), SUPER NICE, SUPER BEAUTIFUL (Meg flowered into a beautiful woman, just like her mother always said she would) and they NEVER get mad. Ever. Of COURSE Mr. Murray would work and be BFFs with the president of the United States, of COURSE Meg would have a PhD despite being a married housewife. It's just... it felt like too much this time around for some reason.
I think what bothered me the most (and what seems have bothered a lot of other reviewers) is the passivity that transpires in this book. The novel largely follows Charles Wallace as he tries to find a way to stop some dictator named Mad Dog Branzillo from launching some nuclear bombs. How does he do this? He travels in time (with a unicorn) and lives the lives of other people throughout history who turn out to be Branzillo's ancestors. This wouldn't be so bad, except.. I don't know, it was BORING. This novel really isn't about the Murrays and just felt so disjointed from the other two installments in the series. All Charles Wallace does is live in other people for awhile, and all Meg does is kythe with him and once in awhile finds out little bits of information to help him on his way. Boriinnggg. It didn't help that almost all the ancestors shared the same names -- it made it hard to follow the different threads in the narrative. It didn't help that I was already distracted and only reading this for a little bit every night before bed, so I'd find myself confused as to WHICH ancestors from which times did what and with who, etc. etc.
The ending was extremely anti-climatic (which I won't bother spoiling), but really, I don't think it could have ended any other way.Final Judgment:
This did not feel like a story from the Time Quintet which I began to love last year. This novel is NOT about the Murrays AT ALL, but rather it's a family epic that follows someone else entirely. The presentation of this family line only made the Murrays side-characters at most, which made it a little harder to engage with (since we've followed the Murray kids and Calvin in books one and two). I was also thrown off at how many of the names are so similar, which made it hard for me to keep track of who was who sometimes. All in all, this was a disappointing read. Will I let this turn me off from L'Engle altogether though? No. I do still plan on reading her other MG titles; I just hope they're not like this one.