Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Ruby Red (Gier)

AUTHOR: Kersten Gier; Anthea Bell (translator)
SERIES: Edelstein Trilogie, book 1
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Co.
PUBLICATION DATE: May 10, 2011
ISBN: 9780805092523
PAGES: 324
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: sci-fi (time travel)
GIVE IT TO: MS boys and girls
SUMMARY: Sixteen-year old Gwyneth discovers that she carries the gene/gift/curse that enables her to time-travel. Together with her insufferable companion Gideon, Gwyneth seeks to discover why the chronograph was stolen years ago and why her mother lied about Gwyneth's birth date to ward off suspicion of her abilities.

READALIKES: The Alchemyst (Michael Scott)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 2/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 2/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 2/5
  • Appeal to teens: 1/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 1/5
CONTENT:
  • Language: mild
  • Sexuality: mild; one boring kiss
  • Violence: mild-medium; a man is killed in swordfight, another man is shot by a cannon
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. It's on the Lone Star Reading List for 2012-2013, but I can't endorse this book with most students since I did not really like it. There are a few I would recommend it to, but as a whole, I doubt Ruby Red will be popular in my library.

WARNING: The reviews on this site are intended for librarians who need thorough book reviews in order to make informed purchasing decisions. As such, anything below this warning may contain mild spoilers. I try not to give away too much, but I do review the entire book.

WHAT I LIKED: There really was not much I liked about this book. It took way too long to get started (around 180 pages), and I seriously considered abandoning it. Right when I was about to abandon ship, it suddenly got interesting (just before the first time Gwyneth traveled back in time with Gideon). For about 50 pages or so, Ruby Red was a page-turner. I was curious what would happen; there was action and excitement, and I thought maybe I might possibly start to like Gideon.

And then it all crashed again. I struggled to finish what was left, hoping for something like that small moment that actually sparked my interest. Sadly, the magic did not happen again.

I did like how Ruby Red reminded me of Scott's The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series. As in The Alchemyst, Ruby Red features a known historical figure who manages to transcend age and possibly even death. There are lots of interlocking pieces of history that have the potential to come together for a very interesting mystery. References to the Philosopher's Stone and Count St. Germain appear throughout, which will appeal to fans of The Alchemyst and Harry Potter.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Overlong. I am surprised I did not abandon this one; that took incredible stamina from me. If it hadn't gotten interesting when it did, I would not have lasted. I can't imagine many of my students having the desire to see this through to the end.

Unlikeable characters, many of whom begin with the letter G (Gwyneth, Gideon, Gordon Gelderman, Glenda, Grace, Count St. Germain). Gwyneth is okay, but she is just not very interesting. I tend to agree with her that she is "just an ordinary girl." Gideon comes off as a complete jerk, and his sudden change of heart toward Gwyneth (after she boldly saves his life) seems self-serving and mighty convenient. Gideon is arrogant and mean, and I don't picture him as anything other than someone who is being used by The Guardians or whoever is in charge of the whole blood-getting operation. Charlotte's character is incredibly flat; her jealousy defines both her mother and herself, and we know little else about her motives. Lesley seems to only exist to build Gwyneth's confidence and to research all kinds of cool facts about the past. Boo.

Considering all the amazingly positive reviews out there, I had to have missed something. The book putters along for 180 pages, gets really good for 50, then back to dull until the last chapter, where the action abruptly stops. Then, the Epilogue comes out of nowhere and leaves me wondering what detail I missed. Am I supposed to have some sort of "Aha" moment after reading the Epilogue? Am I supposed to understand it or get what's going on? Does it have some deeper meaning that I don't see? Surely it must. I am not at all stupid, but I kind of felt that way when I finally (FINALLY!) closed the cover.

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