I had been dabbling with the idea of including the concept of the Nephilim (half human, half demons, as mentioned in Genesis 6 and also in Numbers) in my next book, so a friend recommended I check this book out. Since I love the concepts of quantum physics, I’d tried to listen to “A Wrinkle in Time” several times, but I couldn’t get through it, mostly because it was read by the author, and something about her voice just grates on my nerves. But this one had a different narrator, and the sample led me to believe that it could be read as a stand-alone anyway, which turned out to be true.
The story follows teenage twins Sandy (short for Alexander, which is a strange nickname for that) and Dennis, who stumble into one of their physicist parents’ experiments-in-progress. It transports them back in time to the Days of Noah, just before the flood. The world at first seems unrecognizable–L’Engle’s assumption is that pre-flood, everyone was much shorter and smaller than they are today, which is the opposite of the speculation I’ve always heard (if there was a canopy over the earth, the thought was that the extra protection from UV light would have allowed everything to both grow bigger and live longer.) In her version, people are mostly 4 feet tall, and woolly mammoths are also like tiny shetland ponies (no idea where the big bones of the skeletons came from then). I’m assuming the reason she made this choice is so that Sandy and Dennis could stand out as “giants,” which are similar in size to the Nephilim, whom they consider to be giants. The Nephilim are also very much the way that Stephanie Meyer described vampires: beguiling, beautiful, and deadly. For some reason the fact that Sandy and Dennis are identical twins baffles everyone, and it comes up over and over again that nobody can believe they’re not the same person, which seems odd. Not sure why there would never have been such a thing as identical twins back then. Also, there are a few strange fantasy creatures–one is critical to the story (unicorns, who only materialize when a believing virgin calls for them, and then vanish again once they’ve fulfilled their purpose), and others that seemed completely random.
The retelling of the days before the flood is mostly interesting, and particularly the dynamic between the Nephilim and the women they seduced. There’s a lot of seemingly unnecessary filler too, though–Noah and his father were having a spat over the best tents and vineyards, and Sandy and Dennis helped to heal the rift before his father dies. The Nephilim seem to feel threatened by the twins, and send a human woman to try to seduce them to get information about where they’re from and what is coming in the future. They both fall in love with a girl whom they know isn’t part of the biblical flood story (once they realize that’s what they’re in) so they’re afraid she’ll drown… but then it turns out God saves her by translating her directly to heaven like Enoch (why? No one knows.) Really it was an interesting time travel concept, but once the boys get there, then what? And the rest of the story is part of the “then what,” just to pad it out until the deux ex machina moment at the end (in the form of the unicorn who obeys the Uncertainty Principle) arrives to whisk the boys back to their own time before the flood waters begin to fall.
Very creative, in short, but only mildly entertaining.
My rating: ***
Sexual content: none (though there’s a lot of attempted seduction going on)
Political content: none