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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy)

Sapphire Blue (The Ruby Red, #2) - Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell This is going to sound like a backhanded compliment of a review. I swear, I’m really trying not to do it, but the more I think about it the more I can’t get away from it. I was hesitant about going into Sapphire Blue. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy reading Ruby Red—except as time went on, I was more unsure if it was as really good as I thought on that first read. (And seeing how my current reading list has the majority of recent rereads pretty much unavailable…) Maybe, the lurking hipster voice in the back of my head went, MAYBE the sequel will prove the true colors. Maybe I’m just focusing on one or two things and overemphasizing them to have a YA book that’s not so by the numbers. So I did what I typically do in this situation: get a copy from work and read it. Yes, Sapphire Blue has its problems, chiefly in that nothing really happens in this book. Nothing. The stakes aren’t raised, there’s little development as to what Paul and Lucy are really doing, not even what Count Saint-Germain’s true plans are. The plot of this book is making sure that Gwen passes her etiquette exam to make sure that she can attend an 18th century soiree. And yes I was very much frustrated with the plot and felt that there’s way too much time spent on “Does Gideon like me or doesn’t he?” I want to know what’s going on, especially since none of the Guardians will tell Gwen anything or simply dance around the subject. (My God, it’s because most of the de Villiers family are misogynstic assholes who want Gwen to swan around in fancy dresses and not say a damn word to them. I hope she gives them all a righteous smackdown in Emerald Green.) The only major plot detail that’s revealed is that Gwen’s power to talk to ghosts and gargoyles is tied to her being the “Ruby”—which I called in book 1—and that’s pretty much it.And yet…I had a blast reading it. It’s pure fluff, sure. But it’s really good fluff. I’ve been mulling over it the past few days, even asking my best friend (who I did give Book 1, with the expectation that I’d be chewed out for liking it) why she liked it. And the more I thought about it, it kind of became more clear.Does Gwen Shepard have the traits of the majority of recent YA PNR heroines? Well, let’s see here: super-special abilities, check. Outcast at school, check. Insufferable love interest, check. Destined to save the world, check. Blank slate personality that the reader projects themselves on? No.Gwen is her own character. She actually feels more like an average teenager girl than a lot of ‘normal’ heroines in a lot of YA literature. It’s not all about GIDEON GIDEON I LOVE YOU GIDEON LET’S SAVE THE TIME TRAVELERS! She has friends, friends who are not only in the know but also help with the sleuthing. (LESLEY I LOVE YOU.) For all the run-arounds the Guardians give her, Gwen stands up for herself and takes matter into her own hands. She cares immensely about her family. There’s a wonderful scene when Gwen elapses back to 1953, assuming she’ll be locked in a room by herself, only to meet her grandfather. And not only does Gier dispense with any pretense of Gwen’s true identity (look, they’re in a time travel institute), but it’s a very sweet and touching interaction with a man Gwen never really could see as being young and potentially in love. And her grandfather doesn’t act existential about meeting his future granddaughter. She’s gossipy and occasionally horrible and says misinformed things, but that’s what makes her a teenager! (Please raise your hand if you were/are a perfect human being at sixteen. I know I wasn’t.) She’s realistic. I do believe that a teenage girl continually traveling to the past is going to want to take pictures of her gowns to send to her best friend; that she’s going to slip up and comment on how horrible everything is; and that she would break out in showtunes when trying to impress 18th century gentry. But it’s never presented as being self-righteous or that Gwen’s suddenly better than everyone else at any time period (she is actually called out on her embarrassing behaviors during her trips). And it’s really not just Gwen either. Lesley is a fantastic character in her own right, helping Gwen out by doing research on the sly so that they’re not as easily caught. (I do kinda love that Gwen and Lesley are inept at being secretive, though.) And Gwen’s family; it’s more noticeable in the first book than here, but they’re not just clueless relatives who let Gwen go about her way. They all care for each other, and they’re all willing to help Gwen discover the truth. If—IF—Paul and Lucy are truly her parents (it hasn’t been confirmed yet), I would really love to see a scene where Gwen’s mum and siblings still treat her like their daughter/sister. I think that there’s way more layers to Charlotte then what’s being led on here, and I would love to see more development in the next book. Exerimius—I thought that I would hate his character, why the hell would you do that and yet, he’s actually halfway decent comic relief. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on Gideon—I haven’t warmed up to him yet, there’s still nothing grabbing me. And the villains are still…*sigh* Kinda surprised Count Saint-Germain doesn’t have a mustache to twirl, honestly. Yes, it was really frustrating that I got to the end of this book and the biggest revelation was around “Does Gideon truly love Gwen?” instead of, say, Paul and Lucy kidnapping Gwen and telling her flat-out “No we seriously need to talk about Saint-Germain’s plans because this is not good.” Even more so when nothing happens at all in the plot. But as frustrating as that is, it’s still an enjoyable book, to which I credit Kerstin Gier mainly because she took the time to give us not only a relatable main character, but one who’s still likeable and realistic without succumbing to more prevalent tropes in the genre. (Keeping in mind that this is based off of the English translation, not the original German.) And I’m not going to lie, the lack of plot did effect my overall feelings…but you know what? I’m still enjoying the hell out of this series. Unless Emerald Green immensely cocks everything up, I’m very much looking forward to the final volume.