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Ruby Red

Review

Ruby Red

written by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell

Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth Shepherd appears to be an average British teenager: going to school, detesting her uniform, and hanging out and watching movies with her best friend, Lesley. But there is more to Gwen's story than homework and boys. Gwen's family has a deep, dark secret, a secret originating from the 1500s, and around which a complete network of scientists, doctors and even a secret society has formed.

Certain people in Gwen's family carry a unique gene that actually tosses them back through time. Those with the gene usually start transporting around age 16. They don't have any control over when or where it will happen, and no idea of when or where they will end up. Then, after anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, they will slip back to the present. And surprise! Gwen is the next in line with the special gene. Oh yeah, Gwen also sees and speaks to dead people, like she doesn't have enough on her mind already.

Everyone in on the secret expected Gwen's cousin, Charlotte, to be the gene carrier. In preparation, Charlotte spends years learning all there is to know about this phenomenon, plus receives important instructions and lessons on surviving certain challenges of the past, like fencing and waltzing. Gwen, on the other hand, learns only the bare necessities about the family secret, such as needing to escort Charlotte straight home when she starts showing signs of her first trip, like dizziness. But it turns out that Charlotte is the "normal" one, and Gwen is the one who zaps into the past. And she is completely unprepared.

And that's not all. Someone in the organization has gone rogue. Gwen's older cousin, Lucy, and another time traveler, Paul, have disappeared, and are suspected of conspiracy. Gwen isn't sure who to trust, especially when someone tries to kill her on one of her zips to the past. It appears the family has more secrets than they are willing to share, and Gwen is stuck right in the middle of the danger.

RUBY RED is the first in a trilogy that is already a bestseller across the ocean. Anthea Bell translated the novel from German into English, and now it's available for us to enjoy. The author, Kerstin Gier, is sure to acquire quite a few new American fans with her amazing series. She does a wonderful job of hooking a reader's interests right away and continues to reel us in by revealing small pieces of the secret here and there, leaving us as hungry for information as Gwen.

Gwen is a very likable character: a bit clumsy, with a good heart and a snappy sense of humor. Enthusiastic and loyal, her best friend, Lesley, is the perfect sidekick. Gideon first presents himself to Gwen with a haughty, dismissive manner, but later moves into the role of leading man with charm and mystery. Other characters are impossible to judge. Are they good guys or bad? It's best to follow Gwen's mom's advice and trust no one.

RUBY RED is a wonderfully intriguing adventure filled with mysterious time travel, breath-catching action and heart-fluttering romance. Fans will be excited for the remainder of the trilogy, which wraps up with SAPPHIRE BLUE and EMERALD GREEN.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 18, 2011

Ruby Red
(Ruby Red Trilogy #1)
written by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell