Monday, December 24, 2012

RUBY RED

Review of RUBY RED by KERSTIN GIER
(first in the RUBY RED trilogy, review based on an advance reading copy, translated by ANTHEA BELL)

I don't like time travel fiction much. I often find myself confused by the chronology of character's lifespan versus historical timeline and skeptical readers like myself usually find logic lapses. (Even when I don't, my brain starts hurting with the effort of juggling events that might not take place in the order one at first assumes or with the implications one at first assumes, etc.) That being said, I still enjoyed RUBY RED, perhaps because it's actually surprisingly light on the time travel.

RUBY RED has a strong first person voice that drew me in within a few sentences and the book turned out to be a quick, easy read from there to the end. Gwen has lived her life in her cousin Charlotte's shadow, whom the family believes carries a time traveling gene. As readers will expect, it turns out that Gwen's the one with the gene, to the surprise of everyone including herself. The story clings very close to the characters, with only a few days passing during the entire novel, and the emphasis remains on Gwen's inner monologue as well as her daily routine and mundane life juxtaposed against the magical elements. (I loved that with all the possibilities of time travel, Gwen’s mother wants her to go to a cellar - specific time period doesn't even matter - so she can finish her homework.) That close focus helped speed the book along towards an ending that still feels like only the beginning of a larger story. (Yes, this is the first in a series.)

RUBY RED contains minimal time travel, focusing more on Gwen's discovery of her power along with a few other intriguing mysteries that remain unsolved for now. The book is also surprisingly light on history. Most of the time travel scenes could take place anywhere, anytime without altering the core. The story roots itself in the characters rather than the premise. I've already mentioned Gwen's fantastic, realistic, and accessible voice, but she also has a fun, funny, awesome best friend named Lesley and a bickering family that, stripped of the time travel specific arguments, feels all too believable.

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