Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Review: Ruby Red
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Colt & Co.
Publication Date: 2009
Genre: YA, Supernatural Fantasy
Gwyneth Shepherd lives in London with her eccentric extended family. The time travelling gene runs through the female bloodline of Gwen’s family, but luckily for her, her cousin is to be the time traveller in the family. Charlotte has been prepared her whole life to travel into the past, from being given fencing and dancing lessons to extensive history lessons. Any time now Charlotte will travel into the past and start her life as a time traveler. Gwyneth is one day younger than her cousin, and is happy she gets to be a normal person who doesn’t have to worry about slipping into the past without any notice. She gets to spend her time watching movies with the best friend Lesley, while Charlotte doesn’t have time to make friends. Just as everyone is expecting Charlotte to time travel, it happens to Gwen instead. One moment she’s walking down the street to buy some sherbet lemons, the next she’s standing on the same street in the early 1900’s. In one day, Gwen travels back into the past three times, and it’s clear to her that was some sort of mistake and she’s the time traveller in the family, not Charlotte. She is soon introduced to the mysteries of her family and their travels in the past. With Gideon, another time traveller, Gwen learns a way to travel back to a specific time instead of being thrown somewhere randomly. Gwen doesn’t know who she can trust, and she finds herself amidst the pages of her history books. Only days ago Gwen was a practically ordinary school girl, but now she’s a time traveller who is essential in a mission set out by a Count hundreds of years ago. All of a sudden, anything is possible.
Ruby Red is the first book in the trilogy by German writer Kerstin Gier. I’d heard good things about this book, and when I saw it at the library I decided to give it a chance, since I love time travel. Reading the back excerpt, I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t look like anything special, but first impressions are often incorrect (see Pride and Prejudice.) But once I finally started reading Ruby Red, I couldn’t put it down. Only 20 pages in, I was hooked. Overall, I thought that this book was amazing. Gwen was a believable and compelling protagonist, and before reading this book it felt like it had been a while since I could connect with the lead character in a book. Even though we don’t get to see as much of her, I loved Lesley and her enthusiasm for everything. She believes Gwen no matter what, and what more could you ask for in a friend? When they were at school, the girls did seem a bit younger than 16, but most of the time Gwen seemed like a mostly typical London schoolgirl. If you had told me beforehand that Gwen would not only be able to travel through time but also see ghosts, I would have said that would be just too much. Surprisingly, it worked very well and provided some of the comic parts of the novel, as well as a few sad moments. I’m sure this ability will come to be more important in the later books. The plot was fast paced and full of suspense and mystery. In a way this book was more of an introduction to time travel and the plot points, but at the same time it still felt complete. I’ve read time travel books before where it just kind of happens, but Ruby Red was interesting because the time travellers are usually prepared their whole lives to travel to the past. The family history was very interesting and one of the strongest aspects of the book. I’d definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. If the next book in the series was out in Canada right now, I would have honestly gone straight to the bookstore after finishing Ruby Red. Getting caught up in a new series is the best feeling, and I can’t wait to see what happens in this exciting and original series.