Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling 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:  Goodness, this book is a hot batch of bubblegum pink cotton candy, and I find I don't care a bit.  Time travel isn't my usual reading preference, since I find that the "rules" of time travel in any such book almost always contain only a thin layer of logic that itself only serves to mask the huge heaping of confusing and convenient loopholes.  You'd think that owning a time traveling device would give you sufficient resources to prevent or correct any huge crises from occurring.  But peaceful and crisis-free stories do not make fun plots, so.  

THIS book, however, avoids the error that so many other time travel books make by never taking itself too seriously.  Gwyneth is a much more typical teenage girl than is found in much of YA fiction.  She's not wise beyond her years nor witty beyond her species.  She's just a girl who suddenly finds herself in extraordinary circumstances and tries her best to makes sense of it.  She stumbles along her journey with an amusing band of co-characters, including her amiable sidekick, her hunky love interest, her self-righteous cousin, a french clothing designer, a good looking teacher, and an arrogant ghost named James Augustus Peregrine Pympoole-Bothame who cannot accept that he's dead and who no one else can see or hear, among others.  Gwytheth is curious and light-hearted by nature, and the book adopts her blithe and bonny tone.  You want Gwytheth to succeed, you just don't know how she will in this world of secrecy and intrigue.

That's why you keep reading.  You want to know what happens.  There are plenty of characters who take the whole time travel thing extremely seriously, and there are mysteries both around and about Gwyneth that need to be solved, but the cheerful tone prevents the plot from being too heavy.  There are ambushes and sword fighting and jealousy and confusion, but there is also humor and camaraderie and sarcasm and laughter.  Imagine watching transformers on mute, while playing Katy Perry in the background, and you have a sort of idea for the feel of this book.  

I wished the plot was clearer, though.  Gwyneth doesn't know everything that's going on, and as a result she is often frustrated and impatient.  The reader doesn't know everything that's going on either, though, so as a result they are often frustrated and impatient as well.  I hoped by the end it would clear up, but it didn't to a satisfactory degree.  There's always the next book in the series, but I wished for more clarity in this book alone.  As much fun as I had with this book, I prefer my fiction to carry some sort of subtle, overarching theme or message.  I couldn't find one here.  There is definitely a place for these kinds of books, but not on a five-star list.  It didn't change me.  But it did make me smile.  

I enjoyed reading this, but I would only recommend it to someone the same way I would recommend a Baskin Robbins flavor: cheerfully and readily, but only after they'd had their dinner.

PS- I never mentioned, though I think I should, that the original was written and published in German.  Yay for more international authors seeing widespread success!

PS- I thought the other covers were interesting to look at, though I admit I prefer the above one best.






  1. Ha! You'd recommend it like a Baskin Robbins flavor. I love candy reading every once in a while. I like the German and Spanish covers best.

    1. I like those covers a lot as well! The Italian one really threw me, though. It's way too dark and dramatic for this light and fun story.

  2. When I first heard about this series, sometime last year, I knew I just had to add it to my TBR! Though I have yet to try a time travel novel, because I often worry about complicated plot lines and overreaching details, I like how this series isn't pretentious in that way and gives us a different take on the subject. I like that it doesn't take itself too seriously, but it delivers on the importance of friendship and trust. I even like that there's a bit of mystery and not everything is revealed right away. It makes me eager to find out more! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Melissa! This was a wonderfully-written review!

    P.s. I adore the American covers for this series! Thanks for including some of the others! I agree, the Italian version is rather dark and unfitting.

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

    1. Thanks, Marlene! I agree, time travel is a difficult genre to deal with. The only time travel books I've really enjoyed (besides this one) is probably the Outlander series. And that was probably because the characters in that series didn't time travel all that often. It happens only once or twice per novel. The focus is rather on the ramifications of time travel, rather than on the travelling itself. This series is much more juvenile than that one, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit! :)

  3. I just finished reading this series as well. I'll admit that I've been getting fed up with a lot of YA books lately because I'm having a hard time relating to the characters (I've never understood teenagers - not even when I was one). But I actually really enjoyed these. Though, I agree 100% about it being a fluffy read. Not a whole lot of substance to the message, but it was fun and kept me interested. I'd totally recommend these to someone who is just looking for some escape.

    1. Agreed! This would be a great recommendation for someone who just finished their end-of-term exams, or something like that. Just something fun and light to put a smile on their face. I'm glad I read it, but I don't think it will stick with me. Not enough substance for that. But I still enjoyed it.


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