A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Time Quintet #3
2016 Book Challenge: a book by a female author
by Madeline L’Engle
narrated by Jennifer Ehle
(young adult, fantasy, classic fiction)
I have the paperback version of this book, and I know I have at least started to read that version, because I remember the early parts of the story. But when I got about half to two-thirds of the way through the audiobook version this time, I started to not remember characters or plot points. So I’m not sure if I never finished the book, or if I got lost and confused when I read it (I was pretty young the first time I read the first three of L’Engle’s Time books) and so have forgotten the more complicated plot points. In either case, it was very enjoyable to listen to a “new” story with old, familiar characters.
The story in this one is fun, and if you have read the prior two in the series, you will be pretty well prepared for the mechanics of the story and the format the plot takes. However, I feel that each of these three gets more intense than the previous one, so I do recommend starting with A WRINKLE IN TIME, then moving to A WIND IN THE DOOR, and only then reading A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET. Not so much for the character development (though that helps too), but more because I don’t know how well someone could grasp the way time/space travel and such works in this world without starting at the beginning and working through it. The books build on each other without being completely dependent on each other. I think it’s a good thing.
One interesting thing – this book focuses on “changing might-have-beens” for a more positive future. (AKA one where there isn’t a major war which will destroy everything.) However, because of the way things are changing, it can be hard to see what the changes are when they are being made. It’s not like the “Back To The Future” movies, where you jump back and forth and can see the differences. In this case, you know that in each case there was a turning point where something good could happen, or something bad could happen, but you don’t always know what impact Charles Wallace had on the timeline. It is easier to see the first time it happens, but by the end it’s really difficult to see what the changes were.
(Mostly, I think this is an interesting difference in cultural ideas and entertainment style. While it used to be okay to be more passive, and for things to change based on who one was, now it is generally understood that it is what one does which makes the difference. I suspect that this same book idea, if written today, would have the hero/s taking action and saving the day in some obvious fashion. Then again, L’Engle makes a point of having Charles Wallace realize that when he tries to control the situation is when they get in the most trouble, so maybe this was a comment on the cultural shift as well. Anyway, finding cultural differences is one of the things I always find interesting about reading books more than 10 or so years old.)
So, to sum up: should you read this book? Yes. Definitely. (But read the other two first, I think.) If you read it as a child or teen, but haven’t touched it since, you should also read it again. I guarantee that you will get more – or at least different – things out of it than you did then. You should also read it with your children, if you have them. Don’t assume it will be over their heads because it has some intense stuff in it… just read it with them so they can come to you with questions.