Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Summary From Goodreads:
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.
This. World. Is. AWESOME!
Usually I dive into characters at the beginning of my reviews because generally that is the focus and how I feel about the book as a whole tends to go by how much I enjoy them, or don’t. However, with Ruby Red I just want to talk about the world that Gier created. For hours. With everyone. Alright I might be getting a bit carried away…
So in this world there is time travel, which is awesome. The MC has cool powers that she has only hinted at to anyone but her best friend and her mother (who I don’t think took it completely seriously) which are pretty incredible, and potentially dangerous should the wrong people learn she has them. Other people have different powers too, but so as not to spoil it I’ll just say at one point someone may or may not have used “the force” in a way. Aren’t I such a tease? ^.^ There are organizations that have complex prophecies that, if completed, may or may not result in powers untold. Oh, and wonderfully detailed descriptions of the time periods that the time travelers visit, who doesn’t love that?! Aaaaah I love this world so much. *hugs*
Oooh and the writing style! The dialogue is captivating, the characters have these in depth conversations and the vocabulary used is expansive and a thrill to read. The way Gier creates this web of family history that even the characters within the families can’t always figure out is intriguing and I’m very curious to see where she goes with it. What ties will be made next? Every scene just felt elaborate and shiny and aaaaah I can’t stop gushing. Books just aren’t written like this very often and it is such a refreshing experience. Love.
So, plot. The general idea here is girl winds up with special time traveling abilities, is completely unprepared and still has to deal with her new powers and resulting change of lifestyle while attempting to complete missions for this group of families that are trying to fulfill a prophecy. Except she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing because she wasn’t trained at all. Oh, and she isn’t completely on board with some of what she is expected to do on these missions and the supposed “enemy” may not be so bad after all. We see some initial displays of time travel, transition into wonderful action sequences and then get some motivation leading into the second book, Sapphire Blue, by the “enemy” and a little romance. Still with me? Sounds pretty awesome right? I thought so too. ^.^
The romance is where I have some quibbles. No insta-love thank goodness, but certainly some instant attraction on the part of Gwyneth which I’m completely fine with. She likes the other MC, Gideon, right from the start at least on a looks level and as the story goes on she learns more about him along with the reader. However, Gideon doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings and we even see him involved with someone else early on. So near the end when one of the characters does a 180 I’ll be honest and say I was a bit frustrated. There weren’t a ton of warning signs (some small ones but nothing big enough to make the kind of change that occurred) and it seemed like it was just a tactic to generate more interest potential in book 2. Meh.
Finally, a bit more on the characters which in a reversal of my usual style I have saved (unintentionally) for last. To tell the truth this is the one area where I just didn’t connect with the book. I couldn’t get invested in what Gwyneth was going through except to marvel at the world and times around her. It isn’t that she is dull or irritating, she just didn’t have any qualities that stood out and grabbed me. Gideon at least had a solid sense of humor and while he is “annoying” in the first half according to Gwyneth, it’s his thing and he owns it. Oh, and the best friend (Lesley) just felt completely fake to me. She was like a robot built to help Gwyneth understand certain developments in the plot and catch up since she is so behind in training. Not thrilled with her character. Until the last 10% of the book or so this was going to really hurt the book for me but then BOOM new characters! Hello friends! I wanted to give the author a hug for introducing these people because I LOVED their characters and I’m sure they will be around more in Sapphire Blue which is a major reason why I’m super excited to read it.
I really enjoyed Ruby Red when all was said and done. The second half of the book, the more action packed half which comes as no surprise, was much better for me because it focused less on Gwyneth, Gwyneth, Gwyneth. The world is immense and complex and just awesome. Gier’s writing is such a nice change of pace from the vast majority of books I’ve read and I can’t wait to experience it again. The new characters introduced at the end of the book gave new life to the story and hopefully as Gwyneth is trained she will be less bland a MC. I don’t know how the romance, if there is going to be any, will impact Sapphire Blue but it should be interesting no matter what. Definitely check out this book and the series! Thanks as always for reading! ^.^
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #109/200; Mount TBR Challenge #64/150; 2013 TBR Pile #64/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #27/51; Genre Variety Reading Challenge – Category – Historical Fiction #26/30