Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sara's Library: The Precious Stone Trilogy

The Precious Stone trilogy by Kersten Gier
Consisting of: Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green
Original German editions: Arena Verlag 2009 (books 1 & 2), 2010 (book 3)
US edition: Henry Holt 2011 (book 1), 2012 (book 2), 2013 (book 3)
Translated from German by Anthea Bell

Summary of Ruby Red from Goodreads: 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.
When every-girl Gwyneth discovers she carries the rare time travel gene, rather than her perfect cousin, she's confused and uncertain what to do.  While Charlotte has been studying foreign languages, history, dance, and etiquette, Gwyneth has spent most of her leisure time watching romantic comedies with her best friend.  As such, the secret organization that has been overseeing such time travelers for centuries is less than confident in her abilities.
Ms. Gier writes a fluffy, plot-driven series of novels that will appeal to teen girls, even those who normally stay clear of genre fiction.  Although there is a talking gargoyle and discussions of alchemy and the philosopher's stone, the series is, at its heart, a romance, albeit it a sloppy one involving insta-love.  While the story is spread across three novels, the plot takes place over the course of a week, so it is rather unbelievable when Gideon professes his love for Gwyneth, even taking into account the perils they survive together in the past.
Gwyneth herself is likable enough, but she's primarily a stand-in for the reader.  What she manages to accomplish is all thanks to her best friend, Lesley, the gargoyle, and a ghost who haunts her private school, the latter two visible thanks to a handy ability to see and speak with spirits.  Everything that happens just seems entirely too convenient, and there's no character development to speak of.  Over the course of three novels, that's unacceptable.

If one is looking for a featherweight romantic fantasy, this might make a nice choice.  But anyone searching for something beyond a few hours of entertainment should look elsewhere.

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