Review of “Ruby Red” by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth Shepherd, born in 1994, is now 16, the age at which those few who inherit the time-travel gene start to travel at unexpected times into the past. This can obviously be quite inconvenient as well as dangerous, so a sub rosa society evolved: “The Guardians” – who not only act to keep the trait itself a secret, but help exert control over the traveling impulse. They developed a “chronograph” to send gene-carrying people to specific periods on a regular basis, thus rendering the activity more predictable.

Gwyneth never gave much thought to time travel. Although her family descended from the chronologically sensitive line, it was always expected that her cousin, Charlotte, would be the one with the gene. Anyway, Gwen has a “power” of her own – she can see, and communicate with, ghosts from the past (even though no one believes her except her best friend Lesley).

According to the writings of The Guardians (quoted at the beginning of each chapter), there is often a pair of travelers alive at any one time – a male and a female. Eighteen-year-old Gideon has already been active for two years. Suddenly, the chosen female turns out to be Gwen, not Charlotte, and Gwen is thrust into a life for which she was not prepared at all.

How and why Charlotte was groomed for the role instead of Gwen is part of the mystery that is unraveled as the story progresses. And there are mysteries aplenty! How does the chronograph work, and where is the missing original chronograph? Where are the two time travelers who disappeared in the previous generation? Why did the Guardians predict that the twelfth traveler (who is Gwyneth) would be the last? And who is the Count with the Transylvanian sidekick who seems to be in charge of the process?

Evaluation: It’s clear right in the beginning this will be an entertaining book. It’s not as intellectual or well-written as the time travel books of Connie Willis, but it’s fun and more geared (in terms of dialogue and plot developments) to teens (…and to big superannuated teens like me).

Rating: 3.5/5

Note: There is a sequel, Sapphire Blue, which I will certainly be reading, and an eventual third because of course it is a trilogy!

Published in the U.S. by Henry Holt and Company, 2011


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20 Responses to Review of “Ruby Red” by Kerstin Gier

  1. sandynawrot says:

    Well, Alyce convinced me. I have not gotten my hands on it as of yet, but I will. I’d love to find it on audio. And I’m not sure anyone does time travel like Connie Willis, so I’ll just keep my expectations in check!

  2. Beth F says:

    Sounds good. Time Traveler’s Wife has a genetic basis for time travel too. I have a thing for time travel books.

  3. bookingmama says:

    Surprise — it’s a trilogy! It does sound like a book that will attract many teens.

  4. Not every book has to be intellectual or well-written. Sometimes a fun book is exactly what I need.

  5. I have this one, but I haven’t picked it up yet. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll keep it in mind when I want a fun read.

  6. Oooh — I’m intrigued. I hated The Time Traveler’s Wife but kind of love the idea of time travel so I’m going to look for this one.

  7. It’s definitely not as intellectual as Connie Willis’ writing, and certainly geared toward a younger audience, but oh so entertaining! 🙂 There were some answers given in the second book, but many mysteries left for the third book.

  8. Rachel says:

    This book sounds very intriguing – I’m going to put it on my list.

  9. I’ve had this on my list and I really need to get to it. I’m glad it’s so good.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  10. Of course it’s a trilogy!! Ha!! I am going to read this one because Alyce loved it so much!!!

  11. I bought this book too! I’m a time travel fan and will add this review to my Time Travel reading Challenge page.

  12. aartichapati says:

    Hmm, I wonder if the third book will be called Emerald Green? I’d be willing to bet money on it!

  13. Alyce got me to read Fire Study too — and I think this one will be next! 🙂

  14. Jenners says:

    Oh I was going to say “this sounds like the book Alyce was raving about.” I’ll have to check it out.

  15. Being a superannuated teen myself 😉 … this sounds really good. I love the premise! I’m adding this to my list.

  16. Jenny says:

    I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to. The mother’s motives seemed inadequate, and the plot apart from Gwen’s learning to come to terms with time travel was pretty thin. Alas alas! And it had such a nice cover.

  17. Iris says:

    On the one hand, this sounds really appealing. But I am not entirely convinced by the plot? I don’t know. Perhaps it is that time travelling can result in such great books but often backfires which always makes me a little hesitant? I’ll be on the lookout for this one though.

  18. I just read Ruby Red and really enjoyed it!

  19. stacybuckeye says:

    I think Alyce convinced me that I should try this one, looks like I’m not the only one! Now that I know you liked it I’m sure I’ll be happy with it 🙂

  20. Zemirah says:

    I really did like that book. The second installment is quite good as well. Though the entire story only takes place in around a month at most it was never boring. I really did like and am currently waiting for the third book. I highly recomend it to all females above the age of 11 or 12. Males may not like it but it is quite wonderful in context. I think that it deserves a little more than what you rated it but it is pretty close.

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