Review: A Wind in the Door

Review: A Wind in the DoorA Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Series: A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #2
Published by Yearling on September 11, 2001
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 211
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

It is November. When Meg comes home from school, Charles Wallace tells her he saw dragons in the twin’s vegetable garden. That night Meg, Calvin and C.W. go to the vegetable garden to meet the Teacher (Blajeny) who explains that what they are seeing isn’t a dragon at all, but a cherubim named Proginoskes. It turns out that C.W. is ill and that Blajeny and Proginoskes are there to make him well – by making him well, they will keep the balance of the universe in check and save it from the evil Echthros.

Meg, Calvin and Mr. Jenkins (grade school principal) must travel inside C.W. to have this battle and save Charles’ life as well as the balance of the universe.

When I was younger, I loved A Wrinkle in Time, which I just reread and found to be not nearly as amazing as I remembered. The sequels I could not get through at the time, so I guess I like them better now than I did before, or I am less picky about my reading.

In this installment, Charles Wallace is sick and Meg has to pass three tests to help him. Like the first book, much of the novel seems seriously scientific for the audience at which it is aimed. There is, again, a serious biblical overtone to everything, although no specific references to god this time. Instead, there seems to be more of a pantheism vibe in this one.

The tests largely suffer from what I like to call “children’s book syndrome,” which basically means that the solution is incredibly obvious immediately, but the scenes go on and on. Pages are filled up by Meg whining about how impossible the tests are and how they’re stupid and too hard and she can’t do them and why does it have to be her and blah blah blah. In the first test for example, it is incredibly obvious which Mr. Jenkins is the real Mr. Jenkins, since he is the only one who has no clue what’s going on and maintains consistency with his prior self. Honestly, Meg may be brightest at math, but I’m pretty sure she should have figured that out in no time.

L’Engle’s philosophy is summed up pretty well in this comment by Proginoskes: “You are created matter, Sporos. You are part of the great plan, an indispensable part. You are needed, Sporos; you have your own unique share in the freedom of creation.” She sees all bits of creation as equally important; size and state of being matter not. Actually, I think that, in theory, is pretty beautiful, but think she has a strange way of conveying it.

In some ways, this book brings to mind The Chronicles of Narnia, in the way there are always external characters coming in to guide the children to the correct answers. Even though the book is trying, on the one hand to show how valuable and strong kids are, there is also a message saying that they need grown ups to teach and save them.

Another conflicting element is in the section that reminds me of The Magic School Bus. Meg and company have to journey into one of Charles Wallace’s mitochondria to save the whole universe, since size doesn’t matter. Anyway, during this battle, speeches like the one above abound. Everyone and everything is just as important…and yet, it seems to me, Charles Wallace is most important, since the crisis in the war of Naming vs. Xing happened within his cells.

Despite all of my criticisms and observations, this was a decent read and I do plan to keep going into the next book. We’ll see how that goes.

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