Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

11 October, 2013 Reviews 19 comments

Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin GierRuby Red by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on May 10th 2011
Pages: 322
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

I’m sorry you guys but I did not like this book. I tried, I really did. It came highly recommended and I went in with a good attitude but the best intentions in the world wouldn’t have been enough to make Ruby Red work for me.


I found Ruby Red to be incredibly frustrating. The plot felt like something straight out of the Fast and the Furious school of writing, i.e. we need something to happen! Quick, insert a shoddily constructed plot device! The twists were obvious, I’m 99.9% sure I’d figured out what seems intended to be a major plot reveal later in the series by the end of the first chapter. I kept finding myself spacing out for entire pages, a bad enough sign by itself, but then it didn’t even matter because anything of significance was repeated over and over again just in case the reader failed to miss its importance the first, second and third times whatever it was came up.

Most of the characters were flat, one dimensional stock versions of people. They all have one defining trait and work it relentlessly all the way through the book. Best friend Lesley is keen, cousin Charlotte is snooty, Aunt Glenda is bitchy, Gwen’s mother is vague, Dr. White is a total assface, etc.


Gwen and Gideon weren’t any better. Maybe I’ve read a few too many mushy YA books, but I thought the romance was completely formulaic. There was a hate/love dynamic in the beginning, but the hate wasn’t particularly hateful and so it only seemed like a waste of time. From the moment Gwen’s all ‘ooh, he’s attractive, but such an arrogant ass’ you know exactly where its going to go. Within a chapter he will call her a stupid child or the equivalent (he did), she’s going to tell herself she doesn’t care because he sucks but then continually notice how hot and awesome he is (she did), he will probably express nicer feelings toward someone else, showing that he’s actually a good guy, just not to Gwen (he did) and blah blah blah, ZZZZZZZZ.


My biggest problem, however, was the time travel. This is not a good book for people who like their time travel to be anything other than a thinly veiled plot vehicle. Or explained. At all. It started off promising, the idea that the ability to time travel is in your DNA sounds super interesting right? What a unique approach, how does that work? Well, there’s a jeweled clock and if you carry the gene, you put your blood in the clock and poof! Off you go!


Say what now? Personally, I prefer a little less fluff and more stuff (ha!) in my sci fi.

There were contradictions all over the place. For example, they (the shadowy time travel secret society) stress how important it is to not upset the continuum (the natural flow of events) which makes sense, right? Any time travel scenario is incomplete without addressing the dangers of paradoxes. But it’s totally cool for Gideon to pop back in time and tell the head of the time travel club about this major betrayal that’s going to screw up all of his plans and that the responsible parties got away with it because no one thought they would do such a thing. Except now everyone knows they would do such a thing 200 years before they do it. I don’t know which is more upsetting, the part where they blatantly broke their own rules about doing anything that could affect the natural flow of events by saying something or the fact that nobody does anything with this highly useful information. They don’t even say ‘it’s a damn shame we can’t do anything to prevent this because of the continuum.’ (It really says something about this book that such an obvious line wouldn’t have stuck out.) They’re just like ‘Ugh, I can’t believe that’s going to happen, how annoying and unfortunate. Let’s have tea!’

Uh, ok

I’m giving Ruby Red two stars because I can see it’s potential and the rest of the series may pick up (in the last few chapters it seemed like something interesting was finally going to happen but then the book abruptly ended.) Unfortunately, I didn’t connect even a little bit and I don’t see myself continuing. It’s too bad, I wish I did like it, my natural state is fangirlish enthusiasm, so this has left me extremely out of sorts. But you know what they say, if wishes were horses…actually I have no idea how that’s supposed to end. We’d all get hit with a rampaging herd of Palominos every time we wanted anything? Maybe it’s for the best then that wishes aren’t horses.

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

19 Responses to “Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier”

  1. Abria @ Read. Write. Discuss.

    This one didn’t work for me, either. I spent the entire time feeling frustrated or underwhelmed. The only reason I picked it up was because I got a copy for free. I took a look at book 2 to see if it got any better, but saw the same problems before I reached the end of chapter 1.
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  2. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    I did quite enjoy this one as you know, but it was definitely in a “turn my brain off” sort of way. I was REALLY in the mood for something light, fluffy and non-complicated, because I was (and maybe still am?) trying to resist a reading slump. It came to me at the right time, which can make all the difference in the world. Still definitely didn’t think it was a great book, but it was entertaining if you can ignore some of the issues.

    I wouldn’t recommend you continuing, because I think it will only bug you more as it continues. The time travel only gets more messed up in the last book.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review + Blog Tour Giveaway: The Girl Who Soared Over FairylandMy Profile

    • Meg Morley

      I think part of my problem is that I had the exact opposite thing happen. I’ve just come off a streak of awesomeness, especially in the cute and fluffy arena (Fangirl, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door; all of which are so cute it makes me want to punch something) and so when it failed to meet those (admittedly high) levels of adorable shipitude, I placed my hope in the time travel bits and clearly that didn’t work out to me. Oh well, can’t love all of them even if I want to.
      Meg Morley recently posted…Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin GierMy Profile

  3. Miranda @ Tempest Books

    Great review! I haven’t read this book yet, but it sounds like you’ve brought up some legitimate points about it. If I ever do get around to reading it, I’ll be interested to see if we have the same opinion about it.

    • Meg Morley

      Good to know! I’m not ruling it out, I just don’t have a burning desire to rush out and read right now.

  4. The Red Queen

    I did love this book, but I have to admit, the second one is much better. The first one doesn’t even give you much plot. I would really recommend that you read Sapphire Blue. It’s my favorite out of the series and it has much more of the time-travely fun stuff.
    The Red Queen recently posted…What’s Next?My Profile

    • Meg Morley

      If you have high expectations for time travel, this is not the book for you. This is more of an adventure/mystery prologue to further action.

    • Meg Morley

      *sigh* Oh Gwen.

      I don’t think I wouldn’t have minded the lack of depth so much if it hadn’t seemed to contradict itself all over the place.

    • Meg Morley

      I felt bad when I was reading it because I wanted to love it as much as you did but my brain refused to turn off (its obnoxious and contrary like that.) Oh well, I’ve loved every other Debby Book I’ve read so you’re still winning. 😀

  5. Ashley Mullins

    I think the first book was just sort of fluffy. Sapphire Blue after chapter 3 picked up and I was glad I stayed with it. Almost done with Emerald Green. Some of the things I do not like havent been solved yet but still not over yet.

    If you get to focused on the time travel rules it might not be a series to read right now. Maybe wait till a little bit of mindlessness is needed.


  6. Ellis

    Oh no! I intended this series to be one of my exam reads. Everyone mentions they are kissy books and that’s the kind of distraction I can use when I’m supposed to learn about dead white males and linguistics. I wonder if maybe they were initially meant for a younger audience. The covers of the German originals seem to indicate it. It also could be an explanation for the simplicity of the plot and the sci-fi lite tone of the novel. I do wonder how much its status a translation plays a role. I’ve been toying with the idea of reading it side-by-side with the original but that’s so much work. Hmm, it still might work as an exam read. I usually turn my brain off during that period anyway. From what I see, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Loved your review (as always :D)!
    Ellis recently posted…Reviewing the Week (9)My Profile

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