Meg Murray doesn't fit in. Her twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, do, and that bothers her. It also bothers her that people talk about her family; her absent father, her younger brother Charles Wallace, even her mother is at the center of town gossip. And, of course, they talk about Meg; she's strange, ugly, rude, a moron and a misfit. They draw conclusions and judge her and all of it keeps Meg from being happy.
On a dark and stormy night when the wind is whipping up and shaking her house, Meg cannot sleep. She ventures down the stairs from her room in the attic, to find her younger brother, Charles Wallace, waiting for her. Soon, her mother arrives as well, and the three enjoy a chat while eating a late night snack with hot cocoa. But the night is about to turn strange. Mrs. Whatsit has somehow appeared inside their mother's lab. Meg immediately distrusts the strange woman, yet her brother not only trusts her, he seems to know her quite well. The woman ends the evening by mentioning to their mother that there really is such a thing as a tesseract. What is a tesseract? Meg doesn't know, and her mother makes her wait until the next day to find out.
The new day dawns, and Meg learns nothing more of the tesseract from her mother, but she does meet and make a new friend in Calvin O'Keefe, a junior at her school, and an accomplished athlete, who considers himself to be quite the outcast and misfit. They become fast friends and Calvin joins the family for dinner. After, Charles Wallace announces that he, Meg and Calvin must all go and see Mrs. Whatsit and her friends immediately. Meg is unsure about the strange women until Mrs. Who claims the three children will be able to do something Meg has wanted desperately—find and rescue their father, a scientist who disappeared some time ago.
With the strange trio of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children embark on an adventure across the galaxy to find their father and free him from The Black Thing, a mass of evil, which is attacking the universe and holding their father prisoner.
Although a classic, I think I missed the boat on this one. If I'd read the original novel growing up, maybe this adaptation would have had a greater impact on me. Since I didn't, I came in fresh and have to say that it didn't resonate with me. Sure, the art is good. A choice was made to do everything in two-color—blue and black—and I'm not convinced that was a good decision, especially when we come to the “man with the red eyes,” whose eyes aren't red.... I felt it took a very long time to get the story going. I was 100 pages into a 400 page, hardcover graphic novel before all of the characters had been introduced. I'm not sure if that's an artifact of the adaptation or not, but it certainly made me feel like I was plodding my way through a very slow, almost meandering book.
There are some decent science-fiction elements here, and I think the right audience would enjoy the book. From my perspective, that's probably kids between the ages of 5 or 6 up to around 13. I was immensely impressed and happy to see a young, female protagonist in Meg Murray, who came about at a time (originally published in 1962) when science-fiction novels simply didn't feature such characters. Meg’s voice is quite distinct, and her arc from beginning to end is satisfying (if slow to build). There is also a strong Christian influence throughout the book, much more pronounced than in, say, The Chronicles of Narnia, which cloaks a lot of the themes within fantasy elements. Christian families looking for something in the sci-fi genre to read and share would be well-advised to pick this one up.
This volume is a very nice hardcover edition just shy of 400 pages.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal). He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012 and a 2013 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.