Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #1
Published by Henry Holt & Co. on May 10th 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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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!’
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.