My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cute and fluffy. It’s like Hex Hall except the insta-love is lukewarm.
Gwyneth, our air-headed protagonist, realizes that she, not her cousin Charlotte, was the one who inherited the time travel gene. She finally tells her mom about it but by the time she does, she’s already traveled back to the past three times. I’m telling you though, Gwyn is not frustrating but I pity how helpless she is. The whole series of events leading up to her confession takes up nearly 175 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of interest in the plot and the writer/translator (Anthea Bell who also translated Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider and Inkheart trilogy) was highly proficient but the meandering was not necessary.
If the plot was not as captivating as it was, I would not have tolerated Gwyn’s babbles. I read this book in one sitting because I really wanted to know what would happen next and although I saw where things were going, I wanted to know how it would end. The storyline and concept is what led to my 4 stars. I only wished the author did not spend so much time lingering on Gwyneth’s whole detailed day because it would’ve have fine in a 400-page book but Ruby Red was only 311 pages long. A measly 311 and 175 of it waxed on about Gwyn’s turmoil!
I was also not impressed by the love interest Gideon de Villiers because he was simply an arrogant poop. He’s not the kind that so many girls dream about dating because he’ll very blunt in terms of insults and orders. Sorry, I’d be fine if his jibes were funny and made to build upon a friendship but he literally insults Gwyn by saying ‘she’s not his type’ and indirectly calls her dumb. I don’t know, I guess that would have been okay except Kerstin Gier does not know how to write chemistry or romance because whenever they’re together, it’s dry. Their conversations are not riposte and even worse, it’s insta-love. They’ve known each other for only two days TWO DAYS and Gideon (spoiler alert: kisses her). It was nothing exciting but I really like the time travel because it was done very well and there’s a clear objective. I understand why this book became so famous internationally since Gwyn reminds me very much of a feisty, incompetent girl like Sophie Mercer (from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins). Those are always a favorite for readers because that means her comments will have a sassiness that coaxes giggles. This book obviously targets teen girls who love romance, a light-hearted fluffy story, and a protagonist that they can relate to. Gwyn is always shoved into the background or compared as inferior to her cousin Charlotte who is supposedly the one with the time travel gene. We all have felt that way at least once in our lifetime before. Families compares their children to others and always finds one lacking and singles out the ‘golden child’ to treat differently.
I know where the hype comes from: the uniforms that Gwyn wears is a foreign setting and the fact that it takes place in England certainly piqued everyone’s interests. The casual references to street names in England and the historical twist of dresses, etiquette, and fashion back in 1912 and the late 18th century was fun. Also back in 2009, this is a welcome change in lieu of vampires, angels. werewolves, and other banal premises then.
Still, I encourage people to read this because the story certainly requires no overthinking or analyzing. It’s just semi-frivolous enough to pass the time with.