Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Was More Like A Nice Garnet

How Excited Was I To Read This Book? 5/5. Young adult time travel with some sort of mystery to unravel. And I love grapefruit. Good associations.

How Excited Was I After I Read This Book? 3/5. I sped through it, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. I think I even skipped some pages at one point and didn’t notice. Ruh-roh.

Book Jacket: 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: I liked Gwyneth and I liked time travel. I was just never caught up in THE BIG SECRET. In fact, I still can’t tell you anything about what it might be. I should at least have an idea of what it could be, having finished the first book in the trilogy. Or, more importantly, why it’s important! Couldn’t tell you to save my life. All I know is it’s a BIG SECRET. And there’s definitely some conspiring going on. Also some crazy young lovers hopping around in time who Gwyneth isn’t supposed to trust But she totally should! (When is a villain ever named “Lucy”?! Never, I tell you!)

I thought Gwyneth handled becoming a time traveler very well. There wasn’t too much swooning or weirdness. And she didn’t worry too much about her cousin Charlotte’s feelings now that it turns out she’s the one in the family with this super cool ability, not her. Which was good! It might have seemed a bit insensitive. I felt a pang for Charlotte. I really did. But it was fleeting. Probably just like Gwyneth’s. I had a feeling Charlotte would turn out just fine. Plus, the girl doesn’t like sweets. We definitely wouldn’t be friends in real life.

Now for the things that Gwyneth handled badly. First, secrets. She never listened in at keyholes before? Tried to figure out the true contours of this little (huge!) family secret? Or got angry when she was left in the dark?! She doesn’t seem to be of a very curious frame of mind. Even when she starts time-traveling, when she is on her own she basically stays put wherever she is sent! Yawn.

But the thing that Gwyneth definitely handled most badly was boys. Boy, actually. Her designated romantic foil, Gideon. Gideon is incredibly rude to her when they first meet. And keeps on being rude. And yet all we hear is how touching him makes her nervous and her heart is going pitter patter and blah blah blah. Gideon stinks, Gwyneth! Wake up and smell the supercilious jerk, my friend!

I’m going a bit too negative for a book that I did manage to finish in one setting, so here are some of the highlights. I loved the way she and her best friend Lesley talked about, well, everything. When they went to the National Portrait Gallery, they noticed Elizabeth I didn’t look much like Cate Blanchett (much less pretty) but she had great clothes. That feels kind of right on to me? And lest Gwyneth sound too shallow, there is totally some art history knowledge getting thrown around here: Charlotte often pulls out her “Mona Lisa smile,” which was a great way to describe a smile and her character.

LAST POINT: Gwyneth sees ghosts. In case we need a reminder that she’s special. It’s probably going to help her solve the big secret that is so important that we can’t even learn why it might be important. So she’s got that going for her… which is nice.

Unresolved-But-Maybe-Later-Resolved-Sexual-Tension: I think I already covered this? But the most insulting point (SPOILER ALERT) is the book basically ends after they kiss for the first time! (It was late at night, something not so memorable might follow, I don’t recall and don’t feel like checking) Her kissing Gideon is supposed to be my cliffhanger? Can’t wait to see how that turns out! She’ll be feisty (in words, never actions), he’ll learn to appreciate the female sex… and become a patronising supercilious less jerky jerk. At least he speaks several languages and can fence. Swoon.

Re-readability: Low. Library book!

Recommended for: I think I am just a little too old for this one. Recommended for readers who can suspend their disbelief (not of events or whatnot, but of people) for the length of a quick and sometimes fun story. It’s very popular on goodreads! Don’t pay too much attention to me! My sister would probably eat this up, actually.

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: I really like The Time Traveler’s Wife – the book, not the movie. Just go read that instead. Or Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I think time travel just deserves to be a little more epic. For a young adult book… hmmm… I’d go classic! Madeline L’Engle! A Wrinkle in Time! It doesn’t have the same time travel, but I would also point out Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer – we reviewed it very early on when we’d just begun blogging and it’s a lot of fun and in some ways has a similar tone.