Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Emerald Green - Kerstin Gier

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, time travel, romance
Published on October 8, 2013
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 464
Read From: 10.18.13 - 10.19.13

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is. 

She's only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-Germain, is up to something nefarious, but nobody believes her. And she's just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? The cover is, as usual, gorgeous, with the bright emerald color and the silver filigree designs and little jewels. The character impersonator doesn't bother me too much, because she is not prominent and she isn't staring directly at me.

Characters: Gwen has returned to being the old protagonist that I loved in Ruby Red, though she still tends to get too emotional over Gideon and blowing her cover in the past. Still, she isn't as bad as she was in Sapphire Blue, and I was back to laughing at her amusing narration. It helped that this installment focused more on the plot itself and a little less on the Gideon/Gwen dramatics. However, my opinion that Gwen should have taken what Count Saint-Germain said with a grain of salt still stands. Why did she seriously believe the guy? The guy, who I might add, is the enemy and who will say anything he possibly can to win? Gwen will, sadly, never be a favorite protagonist; she's too prone towards emotional outbursts and not keeping her mind on what's important. But at least she's back to being something of her old self in this one. Gideon, who I always kind of sympathized with (poor guy was having to deal with an unreliable time-traveling partner), wasn't in my good graces for this book. He was downright rude to Gwen 99.9% of the time for no reason and was up on his high horse way too often. His behavior is explained later, and I did forgive him afterward, but that doesn't change the fact that I spent well over half of Emerald Green disliking him pretty intensely. But Xemerius the ghost gargoyle seriously makes up for a lot of this book's character shortcomings, because he is just adorable beyond words. And I am happy to report that he is a constant presence in this installment - even more so than in the last one. If all gargoyles are like Xemerius, I want one! And what about James? He is barely in it, I am sorry to say. The one ghost character I was dying to be in the books more and he wasn't! What a disappointment. Count Saint-Germain continues to be a relatively okay villain. He's not the world's greatest, but he's horrible, either, and at least chooses good moments to monologue - and when he does monologue, he doesn't do it for too long. His evil plot, however, was a little unimaginative.

The Romance: Yes, Gideon and Gwen have their dramatics. But it isn't nearly as bad as in Sapphire Blue. Gwen struggles to give up her feelings for Gideon (and doesn't succeed), and in order to help herself do that, she turns her attention on what matters: namely, stopping Count Saint-Germain and convincing the Order that he's a villain. So while there is romantic tension, and while it is irritating when it is focused upon, it isn't the book's main point. Therefore I didn't find myself getting irritated nearly as often as in Sapphire Blue.

Plot: Emerald Green picks up where Sapphire Blue left off! Gwen now knows that her grandfather hid something important in his house; something that could stop Count Saint-Germain for good. All she has to do is find it, and with the help of Xemerius the ghost gargoyle, that shouldn't be too hard. Should it? Meanwhile, Gwen is also having to sort out her feelings about her time-traveling partner Gideon. Last time she met Saint-Germain, he all but told Gwen that Gideon had been using her all along; that he had lied about loving her. While the Order continues to follow Saint-Germain's orders and close the Circle of Twelve, Gwen is sneaking behind their backs and trying to understand why the Circle of Twelve shouldn't be closed - all while battling turbulent emotions and figuring out who she can trust and who is her enemy. I have stated earlier on that the romance is not the main focal point of the story - thank goodness. It still gets page time; don't get me wrong. But we do finally return to the interesting aspect of this trilogy: Saint-Germain's motivations, the prophecy, and why the Circle of Twelve shouldn't be closed. This is the plot that originally made me like the Ruby Red Trilogy, and after the rather disappointing volume that was Book #2, I honestly didn't hold out much hope for Book #3. It wasn't perfection - I'll be honest. I found myself grinding my teeth more than once, especially over Gwen's continued disregard for historical protocol and emotional breakdowns at the most inconvenient moments possible. I still agree with the Order that Gwen isn't cut out for time travel. She wigs out during a very important mission and starts behaving incorrectly at a 1700s social ball when she isn't supposed to attract attention to herself. Really, Gwen? And you wonder why everyone loses patience with you? Other than those now-common irritating moments - and a scene where Charlotte gets drunk (which was an attempt at humor, but was just a waste of page space and not all that funny) - Emerald Green is almost as good as Ruby Red. The plot moves as a good pace; not too fast and generally not too slow. Amid the more brow-slapping scenes, when the story focuses on the plot, it really and truly delivers, and I found myself once more enjoying this trilogy.

Believability: Not real complaints here. Gwen messes up at the ball, of course, but it's not nearly as bad as in Sapphire Blue when she starts singing a song from Cats.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. As usual, there is the wit and sarcasm that we've come to expect in Gwen's narration. The style is modern, of course, but it's a modern that works.

Content: 7 s-words.

Conclusion: I admit that the climax was a bit too smooth. At first it kicked off really strong, but then it kind of petered out. There weren't very many hiccups, and it could have used just a few. Even so, I liked the conclusion pretty well, and I good opinion of this trilogy is more or less restored. Sapphire Blue had stumbling points - lots of them - and I wasn't sure if I really was looking forward to reading Emerald Green. But I had faith, even though my common sense told me not to. Once a trilogy has stumbled as badly as this one did in Book #2, it rarely recovers. But it did! And while Ruby Red is definitely the best book of the trilogy, Emerald Green isn't bad. It focuses on the plot, it wraps everything up well, and it has Xemerius.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of time travel stories that are more chick reads than historical reads.

Others in This Trilogy:
1)Ruby Red
2)Sapphire Blue
3)Emerald Green

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