Published: May 10th, 2011 (Originally published in 2009)
Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy # 1)
By: Kerstin Gier
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.
Gwyneth Shepherd has a very unusual family - into each generation one of it's members is born with the time travel gene! There was a prophecy by from Sir Isaac Newton about this generation's member, and all the family believes that Gwen's cousin Charlotte is the one it speaks of. She has been trained since birth to travel through time and they are expecting that it will happen any day now. What no one counted on was a lie told by Gwen's Mom, trying to avoid the prophecy. So when Gwen time travels during class she is absolutely shocked by it. After she tells the family Gwen is thrown headlong into a whirl of secret societies, mysterious history and good versus evil. Paired with another teenage time traveler, Gideon, it is soon apparent that Gwen is in way over her head. Going up against Gideon's Uncle and her Aunt, who disappeared years before after stealing one of two machines owned by the Society that is dangerous in the wrong hands, the two must find a way to recover it before its too late. And will their growing feelings for each other get in the way of their mission and put everyone at risk?
Gwen was an interesting main character for sure. She spends her whole life thinking that she's ordinary and her pretentious cousin Charlotte is the special one. Only to learn that she herself is about to have adventures she never even dreamed of. I thought that Gier managed an interesting and original time-travel mythology all her own. I liked the explanations of the society that Gwen got, the mystery surrounding her Aunt Lucy and Gideon's Uncle running off together and the way the sudden addition of time travel into her life affects Gwen herself. She has a great sense of humor, but is a little low on self-worth in regards to Gideon and Charlotte especially. Gwen's best friend Lesley was hilarious and I was smiling every time her antics were happening on the page. Gwen has told her everything about her crazy, time travel gene carrying family and Lesley not only believes her but is super excited to be included in the whole thing. The friendship has no real reasoning behind it that we're given, but the loyalty and true strength of it is definitely shown whenever the girls are together.
Gwen's Mom seemed like a nice lady, but I thought that her reasons for trying to hide the prophecy were weak and selfish. She had to have known the truth would come out - there was no way around it. Charlotte was portrayed as inherently obnoxious and a self-entitled, priggish, know it all. But at times the reader would catch a glimpse of her as just a normal teenage girl, thrust into becoming someone not of her own making. It's understandable she's be lost without what had become her identity. As for Gideon, I agree with a lot of other readers who say that he acts like a douchebag to Gwen for the majority of the novel, all because he refuses to get to know her. Gideon falsely stereotypes her just because she hasn't been training since birth (does everything to let her know he thinks she's stupid, except for just coming right out and saying it). The romance between them was bare bones at best, insta-love at worst. The mystery, world-building and time travel aspects are just interesting enough to almost cancel this particular fault out though. The ending of the book finally gives us a window into the mysterious, 'evil' relatives and from the cliffhanger/surprise revelation, I am super interested in reading the rest of the series just to know how it plays out. Overall, it fed my time travel addiction quite well but it reads a little young for my usual taste. Unless you're okay with middle grade fiction (the level this reads at in my opinion) don't touch it; or you'll spend the whole book frustrated and no one deserves that when reading a book. If you like adventure and mystery, with a touch of fantasy though give it a whirl.
*On a side note, which cover do you guys like the best? The original German, the American cover or the Polish one? These are just a few as the series has been translated into quite a number of languages. I like the German one best personally! :)
VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**