Rossdavidh's Reviews > A Swiftly Tilting Planet

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
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Well, that was interesting.

I decided to read this book because it was assigned reading for my daughter, who is 14. I bought two copies at the used bookstore so we could read them in parallel. It wasn't the only reason I decided to read it; I also was curious as to what I would think about L'Engle's writing. I recall, barely, having read "A Wrinkle In Time" when I was a youngster, maybe 7 or so? I recall liking it, but not much more about it. Returning to books from your childhood reading, can be risky, but I wasn't so emotionally attached to the memory that it would be crushing for me if it turned out her style didn't look so good to 52 year old Ross as to 7 year old Ross. Of course, I don't know how "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" compares to "A Wrinkle In Time", precisely, but most of the people who liked one liked the other, and vice versa.

First off, I can say that it is most decidedly a young reader's book. This doesn't mean it cannot be enjoyed by an adult, but it does mean that there is a certain amount of, um, saccharine content which one must simply live with, or else you will not be able to enjoy the book. I can shrug this kind of thing off, if I am aware of it going in, for me it is kind of like magic being real in a story; fine if made clear at the beginning, annoying if encountered in the last half. Still, some of it did get a bit excessively sweet. The baby unicorn, for example.

I also had to shrug off certain plot holes. For example, if the same two families kept marrying each other, generation after generation since before Columbus as in this book, you would have some mighty inbred children by the time you hit the mid-20th century. Part of my mind was thinking of the European royal families with their problems of hemophilia and the ever-growing Hapsburg jaw. But, you know, put it aside.

There is also an issue with similar names being used, generation after generation, in a story which involves traveling through time as this one does. It was not at all easy for me to keep Zillah, Zillie, Zillo, and Bran/Brandon/Branwen clear in my head. This would not have been much of an issue if the story stayed with a linear, first-the-past-and-then-the-future kind of narrative, but we have a time-traveling unicorn and some "Quantum Leap"-style mind melds to take us hopping around, and it began to get a bit fuzzy in my mind.

Still and all, if you know going in that you're going to be reading a kind of extra-sweet, slightly hippy-dippy melange of science fiction and fantasy, with a bunch of time travel thrown about, it was not badly done. Sort of like when you see a Saturday morning cartoon, and there is actually a little bit of a plot. It would not be hard to find things to be critical about, but if you're not going into it with a harsh mentality, it is entirely possible to enjoy. There are a couple villains who are eminently dislikable, and some good guys who are earnest and a tiny bit precious but basically likable. There are a few brief combat scenes, and a heaping big budget of special effects when space unicorn with wings takes the protagonist through space and time.

There might have been a few as-you-know-bobs. Not too painful, not too long, but if that sort of thing really annoys you, be warned.

Still and all, I found it easy to read, and a not unpleasant experience. I'm not sure I'm off to gobble up the rest of the series, but I'm glad I decided to read this one, and that my withered old heart was able to hold back on the caustic scorn enough to allow myself to enjoy it.
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Reading Progress

November 17, 2019 – Started Reading
November 17, 2019 – Shelved
November 24, 2019 – Shelved as: blue
November 24, 2019 – Finished Reading

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