Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) by Madeleine L'Engle

Many Waters - Madeleine L'Engle

Oh dear... these books are not going to get any better, are they? I continue to read this series because I liked the first book. I thought the ideas were intriguing enough that I wanted to see more and more of this world. But it would seem the more I read, the more disappointed I become. Many Waters is no exception. 

 

This installment follows the twins, Sandy and Dennys, two of my least favorite characters in the entire series. They have been in the previous books, as well, but more like side characters. I always thought they were bland and Many Waters confirm that they are. They don't even have personalities. In fact, they act as if they are one person. Nothing they do distinguishes them as individual people. They also have a snotty attitude and can be rude for no apparent reason. Especially to the people around them. Saying things like the "small, brown people don't bathe." I don't even have to point out how that's a very harmful stereotype.

 

Let me back track a bit so you can understand what I'm talking about. The twins, after having messed around with their father's experiment, travel back in time to Noah's (from the bible) time where he must build the ark to escape from the flood. So the twins are in this time period, stuck in the desert, where everyone is small (because evolution hasn't kicked in yet, I guess) and brown and only wear loincloths (in the desert...). And the twins make it a point to say these small, brown people don't bathe. I have had a problem with racism in these books in the past and it seems that it's a theme that's just going to continue throughout. And, just like in the previous book, sexism is prevalent throughout as well.

 

But, and here's the confusing part, there's also talk about how a lot of things said within the bible is chauvinistic and unfair towards women since Noah is only to build the ark for all the animals and himself, his wife, his sons, and all their wives, but not for his daughters. Now, I don't really mind all the religious aspects these books contain. We all have our own beliefs and religions we follow (or don't follow). What bothers me are the contradictions contain within them. The women in these books are either cooking or taking care of the men or having babies (there's a scene where a birth and it is described in graphic detail) and that's all they amount to. The main female character in this book, Yalith, is there to created conflict between the two twins because they both develop feelings for her. So, you see, the women are mere plot devices to further the story for the men. But then the book goes on to say how women are not treated fairly in the bible and that Noah and the seraphim (the good angels) should go against what was written in the bible. Really? It's like L'Engle wanted to point out certain flaws within the bible without realizing she was perpetuating those exact same flaws.

 

Back to the sexism. There is also another female character in the book named Tiglah. Her sole purpose: to seduce the twins so the nephilim (the bad angels) can find out why the twins have traveled back in time. That's it. She is someone who is depicted as being "terrible" because she is with the nephilim, does what her father and brother says, and is comfortable with her sexuality. Throughout the entire story, she is mistreated by the twins, saying she is an "easy lay" and even going as far as calling her a "slut." It's been a while since I've read a book that slut-shamed a character so hard that, even though you're not supposed to sympathize with her as the reader, I couldn't help doing so. I know that she stood by the sidelines whilst her father and brother kidnapped Sandy, but she said so herself: if she interfered, they would have killed her. And I'm incline to believe her, considering how common it is to mistreat women in this world. Tiglah did not deserve to be treated so harshly by the twins and I hate that it is treated as natural to slut-shame her within the narrative. 

 

Speaking of sex, there sure is a lot of it for a book that's aimed for kids. As I said before, this is a society living in the desert and in this desert, the people only wear loincloths (I know, makes no sense but we're suppose to roll with in). Meaning that people's top-halves are uncovered which means that women's breasts are very prominently featured within the text. Nudity in books do not bother me, I just thought it was misplaced since this is supposed to be a book for kids. Not to mention there are quite a few sex scenes as well. It doesn't go into too much graphic detail, but it's still there. It just seemed odd to have it in the story since the previous three books did not contain such topics. But because the main characters were "normal teenage boys" I guess sex was inevitable. (I'm being sarcastic, by the way.)

 

Anyway, I've rambled long enough. This book is just not for me. I keep reading hoping these books will get better but no. I only have one more book in this series left to read so I am going to finish it. Hopefully, the last one contains all the good things that the first book had and none of the things these last two books had. If you've read the previous three books and want to read this one, go ahead. Just keep in mind that this one is not as kid-friendly as the previous three. And, hopefully, you end up liking it more than I did.