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 her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, 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.
Finally! A time-travel novel that makes sense! The author of Ruby Red does a fantastic job creating the rules for time travel. The time-travelers in Ruby Red are the descendants of two family lines, twelve in total. Somewhere over the course of the ancestors’ lives, they began to prophesy the coming time-travelers, which is why Charlotte, instead of Gwyneth, is thought to carry the time-traveling gene.
On their own, the time-travelers have no control over their ability. They can travel to any time at any time. To keep this from happening, they employ the use of a chronograph. This clever little device attunes to the blood of the gene-carriers, allowing only them to use it to time-travel. Instead of traveling without any control, the chronograph allows the time-traveler to choose a time to return to, and as long as they travel once a day for a few hours, they won’t spontaneously travel.
As for the rules of time-travel, they cannot travel within their own timeline, so the most recent time they could visit would be before their own birth. And, they cannot travel to the future because “it hasn’t happened yet”. The time-travelers cannot take non-time-travelers with them, but they can take objects back and forth between the past and present. No paradoxes so far, but if the author brings them up in the later novels in the trilogy, I’m sure she handles them perfectly.
Now, though I was mostly enthralled by the time-travel, the other aspects of the novel were good too. The plot itself deals with the time-travelers. A chronograph was stolen, containing the blood of ten time-travelers. Rumor has it that when the chronograph has the blood of all twelve time-travelers, some secret will be revealed that supposedly has great power. The quest then is to fill the second chronograph with the blood of all twelve travelers. Gwyneth joins her male time-traveling counterpart Gideon in order to complete this quest. This leads them into dangerous confrontations that I can only guess will become more and more dangerous as the trilogy wears on.
The pacing was phenomenal, though the writing itself was subpar. I won’t harp on this considering the book was originally written in German, but there were times the writing was a bit bland. I didn’t have much of a problem with this considering the story was so good, and it could be chalked up to difficult translation.
Another problem some readers may have is with the main character Gwyneth. Though it didn’t bother me much (again, enthralled by the awesome execution of time-travel), Gwyneth is really passive. Rather than her making things happen within the story, things happen to her. She is mostly an observer throughout the course of the book, rarely taking action.
All that said, there’s something missing from the story. As I was reading, as good as it was, I couldn’t help but think it could be better. I can’t pinpoint what exactly is missing, but it keeps the story from receiving five stars. I hope that Sapphire Blue, the second book in the trilogy, fills that gap.
Reading level: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Rating: Rating: ★★★★☆
[Debut Author Challenge 2011]
[Debut Author Challenge 2011]