December 27, 2012

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L'Engle

It's hard not to like L'Engle's books. They all have such poetry and imagination that you can really escape into them. And this one, a sequel to "A Wrinkle In Time" does that first book justice and continues the story of the Murry family who are all special in their own way.

It's Thanksgiving and Meg and her brothers are back at the family home to be together. Meg is heavily pregnant and resting while her husband is away and has even invited her strange mother in law to join them as well. But it is at this dinner that her father gets a call from the President saying that a dictator in Vespugia is threatening war and bombing. Her younger brother Charles Wallace is set to a mission and using a verse that Meg's mother in law gives him, he must travel through time with the help of a unicorn to try to tweak the past and change the future.

I didn't feel as connected to the characters in this book as I did in Wrinkle of Time. I think its because everything bounces around so much and from time to time to different whens and wheres that it's hard to get a read on the characters. Meg is a constant, but she is just an observer telling Charles Wallace's story so we don't get much of a sense of her in this. Being that previously she was always a child, I had somewhat looked forward to learning of her as an adult, but alas, that is just not for this book. Charles Wallace is so many different people during his travels in time that he too is not described greatly aside from being brave in a unique sort of way. But the people he is in the past all have interesting stories, and there is a chain that ties them all together through history.

I liked the concept of the time travel and the tweaking of certain events to get a better future. I think L'Engle handled it excellently, as she does will all scientific and mythological combinations. She just has a way of weaving unlikely things together in a beautiful way. Combine that with the poetry and legend she incorporates into her book and it's hard to be disappointed when reading something of hers. There is a little bit of religion incorporated into her works as well, but it was actually pretty light in this book as compared to some of the others. And her version of Christianity is so peaceful that it doesn't come across preachy like so many other authors do. As for this book tying in to the others of the quartet, it probably could be read alone. There isn't much mention of the other books and no important details are left out. In fact, reading it, it almost seems as if the other books didn't exist at all.

I beautifully written book with a lot of interesting topics and concepts, A Swiftly Tilting Planet is appropriate for all ages. With a little more character development, I think this could have been right there at the top of fiction.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Copyright 1978
278 pages

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