I’ve been reviewing a lot of well-known books and series and some recent publications, so I thought it would be time to explore some maybe not so well-known books. Being a German native speaker, I’d like to introduce you to a YA trilogy that is everything a novel for young people should be. Fun, thoughtful, engaging and equipped with beautiful covers. (And for those of you who are wondering: The name is pronounced CARE-stin GEER)
The first teaser trailer is up and you can watch it HERE.
original title: Rubinrot
published: Henry Holt and Co. 2009
my rating: 8/10
goodreads rating: 4,14/5
first sentence: I first felt it in the school canteen on Monday morning.
Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who, in the middle of class, takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why she has inherited the time travel gene instead of Charlotte, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon – the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
These books are just so much fun! Gwyneth (who is called Gwendolin in the original books) is a hilarious narrator and instantly lovable. While she is easy to identify with, she is not flawless, says really silly things sometimes and has no idea what to do with this handsome boy she has to work with now. Gideon, as the male protagonist, is seen through Gwyneth’s eyes, so the reader’s esteem for him will grow as slowly and steadily as does Gwyneth’s. But the love story is really not the main plot of this story. Although giggles and girly noises may ensue once you’re in book 2, Sapphire Blue.
Time travel and young adult books only go well together if the author trusts their readers to have brains. Who in turn are willing to use them. And Kerstin Gier clearly does. She thought up a wonderful idea of how and why time travel is possible, with its own set of rules, pros and cons. Not everything is peachy if you have to travel in time every single day due to a genetic mutation… Her language and wit makes this one of my favourite summer reads. You can just fall into these books and become a little girl again, remember your first love and kind of wish you could travel through time – though maybe in a less rigorous way.
I should warn you that while these books are sold as a trilogy, they are really one long story told over three volumes. Every book ends with a huge cliffhanger and scenes are simply cut in the middle. Lucky for those of you who hear about these books for the first time, the trilogy is completed and the mysteries are resolved. The ending, while a little overdone in parts, was highly satisfying and offers explanations for all questions raised. The epilogue even holds a little surprise that made everybody I know smirk for a long time. It’s like a goodie bag right at the end of the story. But I will say no more.
Kerstin Gier also has a knack for creating side characters that serve a certain purpose without feeling cardboardy. Xemerius is everyone’s favourite, he makes sure even the dire scenes offer some comic relief. This little talking gargoyle accidentally spurts water whenever he gets too excited. What’s not to love? Gwyneth’s best friend on the other hand is a smart girl who loves to solve riddles – and there are more than enough of those. But even random classmates who only get a couple of lines have their own personality and are, in their own way, memorable.
Gwyneth’s story takes place in modern London, a setting many authors have tackled. Kerstin Gier, as a German, has done a fantastic job of bringing the city to life in modern times as well as in the past. It’s not just wigs and fancy dresses (though there are some of those), it’s her descriptions of ballrooms and gentlemen, horse-drawn carriages and pianofortes that make for vivid surroundings. These descriptions are never too much and don’t stop the plot from moving forward with lightning speed. It’s very hard to lose attention – which is just as books for children or young adults should be.
If you read these books, you won’t find an extremely deep tale about life and death, good and evil, morals and humanity. But you will have uninterrupted fun, discover an original time travel idea, and fall in love with the cute characters. And you might even pick up some history – because light as the read is, Kerstin Gier did do her research.
There’s also a (German) movie in the making. For more infos, check out the homepage: Rubinrot, der Film.
THE GOOD: Adorable characters, a fast paced plot, great time travel ideas, suitable for young adults, highly accessible.
THE BAD: The ending was a little over the top.
THE VERDICT: The perfect gift for teenage girls, a gateway book into fantasy/sci-fi and just a fun and funny read you shouldn’t miss.
RATING: 8/10 Excellent trilogy overall (part 2 being my favourite)
- Ruby Red (also published as Girl About Time)
- Sapphire Blue
- Emerald Green
About that movie…
19th September 2012 RUBY RED MOVIE TRAILER
Yesterday I paid one of my very rare visits to the homepage for the upcoming Ruby Red movie. And there is an announcement for today at noon – when the movie trailer will be shown for the first time. I do hope we’ll get to see it right away because the few pictures you can find on the homepage look quite promising. My faith in German movie-making is not exactly overwhelming but I am starting to hope that this will actually be a good film.