Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with one of my two buddies. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Kaitlin’s blog! (Link below)
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Series: Precious Stone Trilogy #1
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Published by Macmillan on May 22nd 2012
Also by this author: Dream a Little Dream, Dream On, Just Dreaming, A Castle in the Clouds
Format: Paperback (322 pages) • Source: Owned
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Although I had never seen him before, I recognized him immediately. I'd have known his voice anywhere. This was the guy I'd seen on my last journey back in time.
Or more precisely, the one who'd kissed my doppelganger while I was hiding behind the curtain in disbelief.
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended - and rather eccentric - family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors' peculiar history, she's had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn't been introduced to "the mysteries," and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesly. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.
She's totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century...
View Kaitlin’s part of the discussion here.
What did you think about Gwen? Is she the kind of main character you can relate to? Do you feel like she was characterized enough so far?
Kaitlin: I think she was a great character! I mean, I really liked how she reacted to the situation she was put in and I do really look forward to reading more about her because Gwen definitely seems like she has had an interesting past. She is kind of the main character that one could relate to. I mean, I know what it’s like to have that one crazy friend but I see her as someone who has kind of always been overlooked and I honestly have not been through that struggle but I do like that though, how people who do feel overlooked get to relate to her and see how it is when an overlooked character finally get’s the attention. I am excited for Gwen’s character development throughout the trilogy because she is definitely going to change with this new time traveling gene and trying to complete the chronograph.
Lauren: I definitely agree. I think she reacted really well to everything; it’s so funny when people are in that kind of situation – where they know time travel is possible, but that they won’t be doing it… until she was! I can’t even imagine. She was definitely overlooked by her family because they focused so much on getting Charlotte ready for time travel. One thing I’ve loved so far in the books I’ve read by Kerstin Gier is her characterization. All of them have been charming, funny, and easy to relate to. I loved Gwen right away and totally can see her style of writing come into play for this series. I’m looking forward to getting to know Gwen even more.
How did you feel about the friendship between Gwen and Lesley?
Did you think it’s a good thing that Lesley knows about everything,
or will it come back to bite Gwen in some way?
Kaitlin: I think it’s okay for Lesley to know everything going on in Gwen’s life. She really reminds me of Mia’s best friend in the Princess Diaries. They’re both such weird people but love each other anyway. I can tell that Lesley is a really good friend and with all these changes coming to Gwen, I feel like their friendship is going to go through with some hurdles along the way but I know (hope!) they will be able to both get through it. I may not have read a lot about Lesley in this book but, I feel like Lesley wouldn’t be the type of person to spill all of Gwen’s secrets like that.
Lauren: I’m alway suspicious when the character tells someone ~outside~ about secret things like this. I just get a bad feeling that somehow it’ll leak out or Lesley will slip up! It doesn’t seem likely, based on their friendship, but still. I’m cautiously optimistic! I love their friendship overall. I think she’ll hopefully be around even more in the next book. It was funny to me that their whole friendship seems based around random movies and other pop culture things. It definitely reminded me of spending time with my friends back in high school.
What did you think of the ending?
Did you find the book to be anticlimactic at all?
Kaitlin: Hmmmm, I actually really liked the ending! The epilogue was pretty interesting and the actual story left off a such a cliffhanger ah! (Okay, but my copy had a preview of the next book so I read a line of that muahahaha). But yeah, I thought it was pretty climactic. I was actually expecting the author to finish that moment before ending the book but if she wants to end a book life that, nothing I can do that! The book itself was kind of anticlimactic? I mean other than the one part where a lot of stuff happened, not much happened in Ruby Red. There weren’t many fast-paced moments in the book so there weren’t many moments that could have been anticlimactic… (Does that make sense?)
Lauren: Totally agree! I liked the ending; Gier always leaves me hanging with them! The epilogue (and the prologue, for that matter) were really intriguing. It made me wonder who the characters were and what they were doing. The book overall was anticlimactic to me, in some ways – I agree. It wasn’t the ENDING that was, but more the entire story. It just felt like something crazy was cooking and we would be waiting to see what happens to them… but the book wasn’t paced that well. There were very few fast, action-y moments. What you said totally makes sense to me. I really feel like it was a great book and I didn’t notice it as much as I was reading. But, I definitely thought about it in hindsight. Like you asked in your post – it was a lot of world-building and setup.
Do you like hate-to-love romance? Do you ship Gideon and Gwen yet?
Kaitlin: I actually do not mind hate-to-love relationships! Why? BECAUSE IT PROVIDES SO MUCH ANGST. (And I love reading angst sometimes) I feel like for Gideon and Gwen, they didn’t necessarily hate each other but rather got off at the wrong foot. I mean Gwen basically took Charlotte’s place and it’s kind of weird to automatically be friends with someone who replaced your friend. I also think they got off at a wrong foot because of their individual personalities. I will admit, Gideon is a little bit of a jerk, but Gwen is a bit judgy and aggressive as well. I mean, in the beginning even, Gwen was always talking about how annoying Gideon was and mentally scoffing at everything he did. I do ship them though. Really, they just had to get to know each other more and finally figure out how to get along. I think Gwen saving Gideon’s life was a pretty good pathway opening for them to finally start getting along and put down the guns in this war because it really needed to stop.
Lauren: Okay hate-to-love is my FAVORITE because of the banter! I know what you mean about angst too; you just want them to get together ASAP! They definitely got off on the wrong foot. He came across looking cocky and rude. She kind of looked frazzled, haha! I wonder exactly what was going on with Charlotte and Gideon before Gwen was thrown into the mix. She kind of assumed that they were romantically involved, but I bet they weren’t. Gwen and Gideon are definitely an interesting pair because, you’re right, they were both standoffish at the beginning. I ship them already too!
What do you think Gwen’s mom, Grace, knows that she isn’t telling her?
Any theories? Do you think it’s related to Lucy and Paul?
Kaitlin: I honestly am really clueless about Grace. She definitely has a complicated past and I think that will have a huge affect on the story. Lucy and Paul have definitely done some weird things and wow! Look at that, our plot is already surrounding what Lucy and Paul did. Very much looking forward to seeing more of them and to read more on what more they will contribute to this story. Also, I want to know more about their past and why they did what they did in the first place. There are things that Grace isn’t telling Gwen about and maybe it will kick Gwen in the butt later. So many secrets and unknown things that I cannot wait to find them out! And no, no theories on what may happen with secrets in future books, I am just as clueless as the next person.
Lauren: Grace seems to know what’s going on behind the scenes and I bet she knows about Lucy and Paul. That’s what I’m thinking, at least. The plot is definitely about them, because clearly the rest of the people (the doctors, Gideon, his uncle, etc.) want Gwen to complete the circle with the blood. By the way, what a weird and cool concept for a book! My biggest question still is WHY Grace decided to change Gwen’s birth certificate. She knew this could happen for her and she definitely complicated things by not helping her prepare. I know she wanted to keep her safe, but changing that date wouldn’t prevent it from happening if it was meant to happen! I feel like she just KNOWS something about what’s going on. There has to be a reason! I’m terrible with theories though, so I have nothing specific in mind.
What final rating would you give this one and why?
Kaitlin: I gave this book a 4.5. I generally enjoyed it but I think the relationship between Gideon and Gwen was kind of rushed, which sucked because I would have loved to give this book a full 5 stars. I loved the plot, the characters, and the writing was really great, even though this book was originally written in a different language, it really did not feel like that. I am excited for what the rest of this trilogy will bring though! For me, it’s off to a great start.
Lauren: I gave this one a 4, but would love to do a 4.25 if I’m being technical! I would totally round up a bit because of the overall feels. I love the concept of the story and feel like there’s SO much potential. This is the epitome of a series-starter though. There’s a lot of information dumped throughout the book and very little action until the end. Even then, I didn’t feel on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen. I just feel like the door has been opened and so many crazy things may come up at some point! I love that feeling. The ending and relationship between them were both rushed, for me. I think the writing was awesome too. I’ve been worried about the translations in the past, but think the translator does a wonderful job with keeping the spirit of the characters the same too. Definitely off to a great start!
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