Thursday, March 5

[Review] Ruby Red - Kerstin Gier

Author: Kerstin Gier
Original title: Rubinrot
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release date: May 10th 2011 (original: January 6th 2009)
Finished date: March 3rd 2015
Pages: 336
Read in: English

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for travelling 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 traveller 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.
Source: GoodReads

Final Rating: ★★★
Ruby Red was a really nice surprise. I have always been fascinated by the concept of time-travelling, but I had never read a book in which it was the main issue. This book has it all - history, science-fiction, witty and funny dialogue, intriguing characters and even a little bit of fantasy.
I was a tiny bit disappointed that this was such a small book. It felt a little like an introduction to the actual story. When I was so excited I couldn't stop reading, it ended. I liked it very much, but I didn't feel like I was satisfied by the end. I definitely have to get my hands on the next instalments. 
I recommend this one if you are looking for a short, fun and intriguing read or if you also are interested in the subject of time-travel.

The following extended review contains spoilers
If you have not yet read the book and/or do not wish to be spoiled, please do not read any further.

⌛That prologue confused me. In a good way.
«"You want to marry me? On board the Titanic? Are you out of your mind?"
"It would be so romantic."»
I was actually, up until about half the book, under the impression that these two characters from the prologue were in fact Gwyneth and Gideon. As the story slowly progressed and we began to hear more about Lucy, it didn't make that much sense anymore.
I think this prologue was a very cleaver and very well constructed move by Ms. Gier. It made the story infinitely intriguing, even before it actually began. 

Lesley is a sweetheart. A bit too wild and overexcited but still a sweetie. 
«"I'll borrow us the DVD when I get a chance."»
She believes everything can be solved with Internet research, a few good DVDs and optimism. And it is a relief to hear that Gwen has her amidst all that craziness to balance out the weirdness of the situation. Lesley is incredibly loyal, and even though she was a bit too loyal (kind of like a dog if you think about it - with all that unconditional support) she was a great character.

Gwyneth seemed so meek and shy and not all that self-respectful, but as the book goes on, we begin to understand that she can be very strong and that she does stand up for herself.
«I retched, but nothing would come up.
"Gwyneth, we have to get moving! Breathe deeply, and it'll pass."
I stopped dead. This was too much!
"Oh, so it'll pass?" I made myself speak very slowly and distinctly, although I really felt like screeching. "And so if I've just killed a man, will that pass, too?"»
She speaks up when she doesn't agree with him. And that is a huge plus. 
The one thing I did not like about this character was that every single situation seemed to bring her to tears. But that was not enough. Her freaking lower lip had to tremble every time she felt like crying. Which was a lot. Oh well.

Gideon is a jerk. He is condescending and sexist. He treats her as if she were just a replacement for Charlotte - someone who had to be there to complete the Circle, but who didn't really compare to him. Yes, she had no preparation for the time-travelling profession as Gideon and Charlotte had almost from birth, but that doesn't make her useless. And keeping her in the dark and expecting her to keep quiet in the corner isn't going to help at all either. And honestly he makes every decision without ever asking for her opinion and then he thinks he can just kiss her and everything will be fine? It was not fine with me, and it shouldn't have been fine with Gwen, but who am I to criticise her?

Count Saint-Germain is a vile little thing. While reading their travel to the Brompton residence, I wished I could reach into the book and strangle him with my bare hands.
«"I'd say the female blood is considerably more sluggish than ours. Just as the female mind is inferior to the masculine intellect. Would you not agree with me, girl?
Seriously? I mean, I get that this was normal thinking for that specific period in time, but you would think that a man who can travel through time and has certainly witnessed some of the wonderful things women have accomplished over the ages and especially one who shares this gift with women who are just as important as him to the Circle would have a clear mind about gender equality.
But to be fair, Gwyneth said - or thought - exactly what I was thinking. It made me feel avenged.
«Male chauvinist pig, I was thinking as I kept my eyes cast down, stupid, pompous, boring old chatterbox
Madame Rossini was awesome. I tend to enjoy secondary characters a lot, because I can feel the voids of characterisation in my head and make up a background story to go with them. My ideas about them are very seldom right, but I still enjoy doing it.
«There were wonderful fabrics lying around everywhere, and Madame Rossini was probably the only person here whom even my mother couldn't possibly have distrusted.»
Wouldn't it be awesome if somehow this sweet and trustworthy woman ended up being the mastermind behind all this?

The world building was very good. It kind of felt like the world building was the whole point of this book. The world is presented to us slowly with all its rules and intricacies and we get comfortable in it, and then the book ends and it just makes us cry out for the second one.
I felt like a lot of information that will be crucial in the next books was dumped on me on this one and will purposefully not be repeated.

And finally, that ending. I hope we find out more about Lucy and Paul's story in the next instalments - I feel there's a lot of potential there.
The truth about that prologue, of why Lucy was crying about having left someone behind - I was in awe of how obvious it was now that I knew about it, but at the time I really had no clue. And honestly, I got a little confused. If Lucy and Paul are actually Gwyneth's parents, and if Paul and Gideon are related... Doesn't that mean that Gwen and Gideon are related at some extent too? Ew.

All in all, this book was very good. The only reason why I didn't give this 5★ is simply because it felt too short.
I highly recommend it, and I will definitely be reading the next in the series.

Oh Cher, if only you knew...


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