Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review: Ruby Read (Book #1) by Kerstin Gier

Source: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Series: The Precious Stone Trilogy (Book #1)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: 10th May 2011
Tagged under: YA-fiction, fantasy, historical, 2014 read, trilogy marathon
Pages: 337
Buy at: Amazon

It wasn't meant to be her...

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for travelling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! 
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon - the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Review [may contains spoilers]

Now this is what I'm talking about! By the time I picked up the Ruby Red trilogy this year, I had already read and finished several YA series, most of them from the dystopian genre. I had almost become a bit numb to the whole reading experience. So when I started Ruby Red, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. I simply couldn't put it down and I ended up finishing this book all in one night.

Living in modern-day London, our protagonist Gwyneth Shepherd was content with her life. She had her best friend Lesley. She lived with her mother in their grandmother's house along with her two aunts and her cousin Charlotte. The beautiful Charlotte had, since birth, been preparing for travelling through time. She was one of the lucky few in the family who was a gene carrier and now that she was past her sixteenth birthday, everyone in the family (along with those in the associated organization) were waiting with bated xbreath for Charlotte to start developing symptoms such as a headache and take her first journey back in time - also known as the initiation journey.

So when Gwyneth developed a headache in the middle of the day with no apparent trigger, she was surprised and then quickly brushed it away. After all, Charlotte was the one who carried the gene. Charlotte was the one who has been training her whole life with piano lessons, fencing practice and history lessons for this. Charlotte was the one whose headaches meant she was about to travel back any day now.

So to say Gwyneth was shocked when she jumped back in time instead would have been an understatement.

Thus began Gwyneth's rushed initiation into the world of time travel, chronographs and their quest to fill the chronograph with the blood of all gene carriers so that they will be able to fulfill the prophecy. She was the last gene carrier in the prophecy - the Ruby - and she is to be partnered up on her quests with Gideon de Villiers, whose family also carries the time travel gene but in the male line. Gwyneth feels like a stranger who's been thrown into an organization which always appears to be keeping things from her. Together, both Gideon and Gwyneth must discover who exactly they can trust to tell them the truth of their quest.

The book has a very fast pace. Gwyneth's POV is actually a very energetic read and reminds me of some of Meg Cabot's protagonists - all gutsy and not afraid to speak her mind. Gwen is young, impulsive and curious. Despite her lack of knowledge when it comes to the world of time travel, it is obvious she is quite a strong character who won't simply take things as they are just because someone told her to. 

Gideon de Villiers is also quite an interesting character and I really enjoyed reading their interactions, especially since on Gwyneth's third travel, she went back to a time where she saw herself kissing Gideon in an attempt to distract him from finding out the younger version of Gwyneth hiding behind the curtains. So the anticipation to see the pair go from Gideon belittling Gwyneth and seeming to be in a sort of relationship with Charlotte to the pair of them kissing each other - I want to see that right now!!!!!

Also, a big shout out to Anthea Bell for doing such a fantastic job is translating this from German into English. 

However, the book does has its fair share of flaws. The biggest of which is that the whole concept of time travel seemed a bit too hastily put together and not very well thought out. Gwyneth is meant to be the last gene carrier. So what happens after that? Does that mean no one will ever have the ability to travel back in time ever again? So then what's the whole point of time travel if there's only meant to be 13 people who can do it (12 spots with one set of twins so 13 people)? That whole thing felt a bit too small to warrant a whole secret organization that supposedly encompassed all the famous people in history including Isaac Newton.

There were several plot twists that were carefully seeded throughout the book by Gier but unfortunately, they were a bit too obvious for my liking. I spotted almost all of them, some which were left unrevealed by the end of the first book so I suppose they will be brought out into the open in subsequent books. 

Overall: 4/5

Overall, Ruby Red is a solid book. While this book is not perfect by any means, it was a really fast-paced enjoyable read and as soon as I reached the end, I was immediately reaching for its sequel Sapphire Blue

1 comment:

  1. Great review - and I completely agree. Although I did seem to love this book more than you did (I give it a 5+ in my review) I see where you are coming from about the predictability (especially with the in the past kissing scene) and the missing pieces in the time travel. Did you read the other books in this series, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green? They do help explain the reasoning behind the time travel fact, since really all three books are just continuations of each other and could be one long one. Anyway, great blog! I love your taste in books and thought-out reviews!