Ruby Red is a young adult novel about a 16 year old girl who learns she has the time travel gene when she suddenly travels back in time. All her life, Gwyneth thought her cousin Charlotte had inherited the gene. Everyone did. Charlotte is beautiful, poised, and intelligent, all of the things Gwyneth doesn’t think she is. While Charlotte has spent the last ten years learning dancing, fencing, history, and languages, Gwyneth has been a normal kid, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and doing the bare minimum at school. But when Gwyneth travels back in time, she’s suddenly thrust into the world of time travelers. The time travelers aren’t impressed by Gwyneth’s lack of preparation and understanding, and she doesn’t like or trust most of them. But she’s stuck and has to make the best of it. Her only consolation is that her time travel companion, Gideon, is awfully dreamy and not as awful as she originally thought.
I discovered this book on display at my local library. I picked it up because I thought it was about Snow White’s sister, Rose Red. Nope. After reading the jacket and seeing the Goodreads rating, I decided to give it a whirl.
It’s a frustrating book. I can deal with the fact time travel and the time travel gene aren’t explained. But the main character, Gwyneth, is fairly bland. The parts with only her and her best friend Lesly are painful. They don’t act 16, they act like a stereotype of 12-14 year old girls. By the end I was skimming their passages. Every time I thought about giving up the book, there’d be an action sequence or interaction with the more interesting characters.
Some things I did like:
I liked Gwyneth’s interactions with the ghosts. One of the ghosts can be a bit rude but she’s very patient and understanding with him. Gwyneth is a nice person so it’s easy to root for her. And her strategy for preventing the Count from reading her mind made me laugh.
I like the bits with her “crazy” great-aunt Maddy. Maddy has visions but most of the family treat her like she’s just making things up. Gwyneth believes Maddy.
I liked the characters and things brought up in the last couple of chapters (no spoilers). I’m now curious about the next book.
Thinking about it, I liked a lot about Ruby Red. The passages with her friend Lesly just annoyed me.