Wednesday, 7 March 2018

#CBR10 Book 13: "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle

Page count: 247 pages
Audio book length: 6 hrs 26 mins
Rating: 3.5 stars

I read this book for the first time back in October 2012. My review from back then can be found here. Back then, I rated the book 4 stars and from my write-up, I really appeared to enjoy it.

The first Cannonball Read Book Club of the year was a discussion of this book, since the star-studded movie version, directed by Ava DuVernay will be in cinemas any day now. From the trailers and promotional material, the movie looks like it's going to be visually stunning, and DuVernay has also chosen to make Meg bi-racial, played by newcomer Storm Reid, with the lovely Gugu Mbatha-Raw and best Chris (Pine) playing her father. This book has been a very important novel for a lot of generations of children growing up, by added diversity in the cast, it will now hopefully provide important role models for children of colour (especially girls), by allowing them to recognise themselves in Meg.

I don't know if it was the audio version I listened to this time (I didn't like the way Hope Davis, the narrator, did some of the voices) or whether it was because last time I read the book, I glommed it over just a few hours, while this time, it took me a few days to get though the book, but I liked it somewhat less than I appeared to have done last time. I know that quite a few of the Cannonballers had a hard time getting through, or with enjoying the book. Maybe that coloured my view this time?

When it comes to the "core cast", I think the introduction of Calvin and his obvious infatuation with Meg (despite the fact that they are in different years in school and seem to barely know each other socially) was a bit sudden. This could absolutely have been given more of a build-up, but the storytelling in the whole novel is rather sparse and lacking in detail. The book transitions from one scene/place to another very fast, and I generally feel that there could have been quite a bit more elaboration in the book.

Charles Wallace, Meg's little brother, is a little bit too "other" and while I don't seem to have had any objections to him on my first read, I found him a bit too precocious and quite a bit off-putting this time around. The scene at the end where Meg rescues him from the It is excellent, though.

Meg, our main protagonist, is a rather prickly young woman, and I can see why that would make her unlikable to some. I don't mind her crankiness and occasional rudeness, it frankly feels natural under the circumstances, with the situation she finds herself in. Feeling like an outsider in school, constantly worrying about her mother, questioning the disappearance and long absence of her father. If she'd been mild-mannered and meek and constantly pleasant, that would have felt a lot more wrong.

On revisiting the book, both the strong religious overtones and the very obvious anti-Communist propaganda bothered me. I was speaking to my best friend, who read the book as a girl and never connected with it very much. She grew up in a Christian family, going to Church every Sunday, and still found the “God” bits overly preachy. As someone living in a socialist country, having Communism portrayed as “the ultimate evil” felt really uncomfortable to me. It was a portrayal very much lacking in nuance, understandable due to the political climate when the book was written, but heavy-handed nevertheless.

I really do think the film looks very promising. Of course, now that I have a baby, I'm forced to hope that the Oslo Cinema's offer the movie as a early afternoon baby-friendly screening, otherwise I'll have to wait until it comes out on blu-ray.

Judging a book by its cover: This book really has had so many different covers over the years (some of them profoundly creepy). My favourite might be the 50th anniversary one - this is not it. My book has this cover, with the dark star-studded sky in the middle, and various details from the contents of the book around the edges. The Mrs W, the children's visits to several of the alien planets. It's certainly one of the more child-friendly of the many covers, I think.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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