Review of EMERALD GREEN by KERSTIN GIER
(third in the RUBY RED trilogy, review based on an advance reading copy, translated by ANTHEA BELL)
In my review of SAPPHIRE BLUE, I wrote that the book definitely feels like the middle of a story - more like the bridge you have to cross to reach your destination than a destination in its own right. Well, if book two felt like a build up to the really good stuff, then EMERALD GREEN is indeed the really good stuff. The final installment in this trilogy gave me everything I wanted and more.
I finally found the romance satisfying by book three. In the first two books I couldn’t get past how quickly these teenage characters start tossing around the word love. There’s still a rushed sense (and there always will be for any romance that jumps from nothing to soul-mates in a matter of days to weeks), but I understand why these two characters feel drawn to each other and, especially under the high-pressure circumstances, believe their initial attraction has developed into something more substantive.
There’s also a greater depth to the villain than I anticipated. In the first two books, I wasn’t quite convinced there was a villain other than the general mistrust within the Guardian ranks. In fact, Gwen’s unease around certain characters has been well-founded all along. Not only that but he’s far more cunning than I gave him credit for, with carefully managed plans that won’t be easily overturned. What seemed a petty threat to me in earlier books became quite terrifying and unpredictable.
EMERALD GREEN boasts many other plot twists that I didn’t see coming at all. So little happened in the first two books (RUBY RED mostly follows Gwen’s discovery of her power and SAPPHIRE BLUE a back and forth between trust and mistrust in her romantic relationship) that I started to underestimate the series. EMERALD GREEN bolts into a much faster pace and it’s clear Gier has had much of these startling revelations carefully plotted out and patiently lurking behind corners all along.
My only complaint is that I don’t understand why the book focused so much on Cynthia’s party, especially on what everyone would wear. My best guess is that the focus was an effort to keep some mundane in Gwen’s life as it turned increasingly outlandish, fantastical, and downright dangerous. Also, at the party it seems Charlotte’s finally about to receive a more compassionate treatment, but then she’s brushed aside again and Gier doesn’t follow-up on that brief attempt to view everything from her perspective.
Like its predecessors, EMERALD GREEN is a fast and easy read, but one that bests the earlier books by almost any measurement. The story ensnared me to the end, satisfied many of my earlier quibbles, and layered on far more depth and detail than I expected. A wonderful finish to an enjoyable trilogy.