Many Waters Review

Friday, February 11, 2011

Title: Many Waters
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Published: September 1, 1986 (1st Ed.)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Pages: 336
Source: Personal Copy

A touch of computer keys, a blast of heat, and suddenly the Murry twins, Sandy and Dennys, are gasping in a shimmering desert land. 

If only the brothers had normal parents, not a scientist mother and a father who experiments with space and time travel. If only the Murry twins had noticed the note on the door of their mother's lab: 'EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS. PLEASE KEEP OUT...

Many Waters is, in many ways, a retelling of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark, with a science fiction twist. Following twins Sandy and Dennis in the aftermath of a mishap in their mother’s lab, the twins are sent back in time to world thousands of years before life as they know it. In a world divided between humans, Nephilim and Seraphim, Sandy and Dennis stick out like a sore thumb, and there’s a strong undercurrent of hate towards the twins, both seen as a threat and a useful ally, as they’re much taller than the people of the land they’ve found themselves in. To make matters worse, Noah is building an ark, and they know this story. Can they find their way home in time, and what happens to those left behind?

I have to admit – I really wasn’t a fan of the first few books in the Time series by Madeleine L’Engle. I just couldn’t get into the characters’ heads, and frankly, they bored me a good bit. Then, I found this book, the fourth in the series that isn’t completely chronological because the books stand alone. The premise fascinated me, as I’m very familiar with my Biblical tales (Catholic, party of one.) The prose is simple but sweet, with two twin boys as the MCs. It’s rich with history, embellished with touches of the supernatural and speeds steadily to an outcome I’m sure we all know all too well.

Sandy and Dennis were refreshing main characters. They kept true to a very boy-esque voice, which I find is missing in a lot of male MC books these days. The secondary characters like Adnarel, Yalith and Grandfather Lamech (and all the cute lil mammoths!) were fabulous, too, and I loved the cast of Nephilim and Seraphim, as well. I enjoyed that they shifted shapes into animals/beasts/insects very much like their own personalities. It was definitely the intricacies within Many Waters that drove it towards the climax, and the sweet touch of love that led to a sad, but beautiful climax was well-written and not overdone unlike a lot of YA romance these days. The themes of destiny, belief in things unseen and fate definitely weighed heavily, as well, making Many Waters even stronger.

I read Many Waters a long time ago, but I’ve kept it on my shelf and bough multiple copies as I wear it out through re-reading. I loved it back then, and I still do. I give it a firm 4.5 out of 5, and I’d recommend it to all YA fans, especially those who enjoy a touch of sci-fi and fantasy with religious undertones.


  1. Hmm, this book sounds interesting. The only book I've ever read by L'Engle is a Wrinkle in Time. Aaaaand...I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the plot, but because it seemed the characters weren't developed much, I had a hard time really getting into the story. I've been weary of reading more of L'Engle's books, but I just might have to give this one a try!

    - Jackie

  2. I know what you mean about wearing out a favourite book and needing multiple copies. Not really a fan of sci-fi but this does sound like an interesting. Great review :)

  3. You're always introducing me to new books! I love it! This one sounds interesting, because (like you) I am familiar with Biblical stories. I'm curious to see how the author ties in the flood with the modern world.

    It's also neat that the MCs are two dudes :)

  4. I enjoyed Many Waters too, but the biblical nature of the story took a while to sink in. Once it did, I really enjoyed the intricacies and characters!

  5. It seems a book I might want to read, thanks! It is really refreshing!

  6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is one of my all time favorite books. I have read it multiple times since I use to teach it and loved all the extraordinary characters. I have not however, read any of her the other books in the series, but think I might like this one too. Glad it is a stand alone although I probably should try the other books too.

  7. This sounds like a great book. I grew up reading bible stories and I am most definitely interested in reading one that is modernized. Nice review!

  8. I haven't read many L'engle book since I didn't like fantasy as a kid. This sounds like it was ahead of it's time. It's surprising that not more books are take-offs on Biblical themes, other than ubiquitous angels. Perhaps they worry of sounding too religious or offending people, but stories like the prodigal son are universal. And every religion has it's version of the big flood.

  9. This sounds really interesting. I just finished a L'engle book called Certain Women for a book group...and I hated it, maybe this would be a better choice from this author....

    Great Review!!

  10. I loved a Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle when I read it years back. I think I picked it up because it was mentioned in a Babysitters Club book and I was obsessed with BC at the time. lol. Random!

    Great review - you reminded me of one of my old faves! :)

  11. I'm actually a massive 'A Wrinkle in Time' fan, but I don't think I've read this one yet. I'm trying to remember if it's one of the books I picked up at the last library sale here... I hope so, because it sounds good! I've been meaning to re-read my L'Engle books sometime soon-ish, so I'll definitely have to pick this one up if I don't already have it. =)

  12. Multiple copies, wow you sure must love this book :)

  13. Sounds interesting. I've actually not read any of her books. Looks like this one is a keeper for you! :) Great review!

  14. You've given me hope. I didn't like A Wrinkle In Time. So maybe this means I should try this one. Great review. I'm off to add this to my TBR on Goodreads.

  15. I still need to read the first book in this series! A Wrinkle in Time has been on my TBR forever it seems. I worry that the religious undertones may just go whoosh over my head but it still sounds like a series that I would really enjoy reading. Thanks for the review!

  16. I had only heard of Wrinkle in Time by this author. I really want to read Many Waters since I have always been fascinated by Biblical stories. Thanks for the review!

  17. I really liked your review of Many Waters, especially since this is one of my favorite books/series.
    I know have the sudden urge to go and re-read the whole series, but mainly Many Waters because I like the slight (yet strong) biblical reference in it.
    Hope this doesn't sound too weird, but it's really cool to know there's another Catholic blogger (that makes 4 or 5 that I know of). ^_^

    Happy reading.

  18. Oh man I LOVED this book and many of her other books. It's nice to see blogger's revisiting older books. There are some really great older books out there but so many of us seem to only review the newest titles. I'm surprised that publishers don't market some of these older fantasy titles with the popularity of the genre....

    Anyway, thanks for the reminder that there are excellent older books still floating around out there!


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