Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan/2011)
Source: courtesy of Zeitghost Media
Young Adult/Time-travel adventure
Ruby Red Trilogy
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.
Ruby Red, set in present day London, follows 16 year old Gwyneth Shepherd as she discovers that she has a gene that enables her to time travel into the past, sometimes multiple times per day. Her cousin Charlotte has been prepared for this eventuality her entire life, but it turns out Gwyneth has the gene instead. This, of course, creates more animosity between the already at-odds cousins, and even more problems for Gwyneth since she hasn’t been prepared for time travel at all, since her mother hoped she wouldn’t inherit the gene. Ruby Red is told from Gwyneth’s point of view, and she makes a mildly charming teen heroine. Unfortunately, for me, that was the problem with this book. It was only mildly charming. It was mildly a lot of things, actually. I had high hopes since it’s gotten such stellar reviews, but not much really happened in Ruby Red. Gwyneth hops back in forth through time, interacts with her best friend and family, nurses a mild crush on Gideon, who’s also a time traveler like herself, and puzzles over secrets kept by the Guardians, the group responsible for taming time travel using a device called the chronograph. She can also see ghosts, a talent which provided some of the most entertaining scenes in my opinion. This was firmly a young adult novel (which is certainly not a bad thing), and really just didn’t have much cross-over appeal to this 34 year old, although I tried, I really did. The writing is just fine, although it is translated from German, so a lot depends on the talent of the translator. I chuckled a few times and found the characters likeable, but it just didn’t do it for me. I do, however, think my 12 year old daughter will adore this book, and see nothing wrong with recommending it for young teen readers. The next book in the series, Sapphire Blue, is set for release in Spring 2012.