Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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 Title: Ruby Red

 Series: Precious Stone Trilogy (#1)

 Author: Kerstin Gier

 Genre: YA fantasy, sci-fi

 Rating: ★★★★☆

 In short: creative, funny, and an insanely enjoyable read 

Warning: may contain accidental spoilers, since I’ve already read the entire series

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.

Obviously, I hadn’t read the blurb properly, because when I first started Ruby Red, I had this strange idea that it was set in the 18th century. Time travel steampunk, as great as it sounds, isn’t the premise of this book, but Ruby Red actually proved to be surprisingly good. Gwyneth Shepherd is an ordinary sixteen-year-old whose family carries a time-travel gene. Her cousin Charlotte is the one who’s supposed to have the gene in dominance and has trained her whole life for it, but it turns out that Gwyneth is the time traveller. The story follows Gwyneth’s journey through the present and past with the secret society of Guardians and Gideon de Villiers, the one who carries the gene in the male line.

Gwyneth’s narration is something that Goodreads reviewers seem to have a problem with, but I found it was something I actually enjoyed. It’s great to read from the perspective of someone who obsesses over movies with her best friend rather than your same old YA heroine who’s too deep and profound for that sort of thing. Gwyneth, to me, is a much more realistic character than a lot of other heroines, and she’s hilarious. She does the most ridiculous things at precisely the wrong time, but I feel like that’s what makes her so endearing. I found myself smiling at some of her antics and thinking, oh, man, I would totally have said that.

There are numerous situations where I was yelling at Gwyneth to speak up, because for some reason she decides to keep her mouth shut precisely when she should have been confronting the Guardians—particularly in the presence of one Gideon de Villiers. And that’s where one of my only problems with this series comes in. The insta-love is pretty unbelievable, considering the entire series takes place over a couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, and about Gideon’s treatment of Gwyneth, because to be frank he’s an arrogant twit a lot of the time. Gwyneth doesn’t hesitate to yell back at him eventually. Then again, though, Gideon’s snobby arrogance made him more realistic as well.

The book is also painfully short, like the other two in the series—or at least that’s what I thought. Apparently the physical copy has 300-odd pages, but reading the ebook felt really brief. Each individual book doesn’t really have a conclusion; it’s a series in all sense of the word. I’d recommend reading them all at one go, which is what I did, because that way it’s easier to understand and it feels more conclusive.

This series was extremely enjoyable, though, and I’m glad I picked it up. Especially for Gwyneth and Lesley’s friendship. Maybe I’m just not reading the right books, but YA seems sadly devoid of true-best-friendship—either it’s totally absent, or the best friend isn’t even nice. Sigh.

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