August 1, 2013

Emerald Green: A Panoramic Review

*Note: There will be spoilers here for the first two books in the series, Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue. You can read my reviews of those here and here.
"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-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along. This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate." (from Goodreads) 

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

My reaction: I read it in a day, so it's safe to say I was pretty into it! It was certainly better than Sapphire Blue. Of the three, this one focuses the most on the mythology of the Circle of Twelve and the philosopher's stone. On the flip side, though, there wasn't as much experience of the historical atmospheres and costumes (and very little fencing!), which was a bit of a bummer since I always like reveling in the historical side of things. Like in the first two books, the humour here is light and gentle, not taking itself too seriously or trying too hard.

Gwen and Gideon are super cute, especially once they get over their big misunderstanding (begun in Sapphire Blue) and bond together. Just generally the characters are lively, and I grew to quite like Gwen in this one. She didn't act as ditzy as she did in the previous books.

Best aspect: I am impressed by how Kerstin Gier really embraced the time travel concept; the plotline relies heavily on the fact that Gideon and Gwen go back in time, meet people, gain knowledge, and manipulate things. Of course, I'm sure there are a whole bunch of holes in reasoning — such is the nature of the time travel beast — and in the case of Emerald Green in particular it gets very convoluted. I couldn't keep all the back-and-forth time travelling and the sequence of events straight (although I think I got the main gist of how things were handled at the end). Nevertheless, it was neat the way the author so thoroughly utilized the mechanism she'd set up for time travel to enable her characters to solve the mystery involving the Count's search for immortality. 

If I could change something... I'd give it a stronger ending. I was a little disappointed with the present-day villain reveal (spoiler: I didn't guess it was Mr. Whitman, but I was expecting it to be someone who seemed very innocent, and quite frankly we'd gotten lots of warnings about how creepy he was!) and I thought there should have been more denouement. The ending came off as rather abrupt, and I wanted more closure (in particular I wanted to know what happened to the villain). I also thought the way the climactic scene was set up was kind of cheesy (spoiler: Gideon getting shot and then it turning out that he'd swallowed a potion of the philosopher's stone) and not as epic as I was hoping for. I would have liked something that involved all the Guardians, and that never materialized; instead the focus was just on Gideon and Gwen. Overall it seemed like the ending was wrapped up in a slapdash sort of fashion, as though the author had spent less time on the final chapters than the rest of the book.

I also wish some of the side characters — the gargoyle, Great-Aunt Maddy, Gwen's siblings, Charlotte — had been given more of a role to play, plotwise. It seems like many of them were mostly there for comedic effect. I thought Gwen and Gideon should have involved one of the Guardians they thought they could trust; they rely on this or that Guardian at very specific times, but I feel like they should have had a mentor.
If you haven't read it: read the first two books before you read this one! Even if you've already read them, a re-read might be a good idea to refresh your memory. It'd been a while since I'd read the first two, so during my read of Emerald Green I was kind of shaky on some of the names and details of the world-building.

If you have read it: I don't understand something spoileryhow were Lucy and Paul able to escape to the past and live there? Did they stop aging at that point? Gwen meets them and they're really young... so are they immortal too? How are they able to elapse for that long without getting sick? I'm not sure if this issue was addressed and I just don't remember, or if it was never fully explained. Anyone else have an answer to this?

Just one more thing I want to mention: the other reveal (spoiler: that Lucy and Paul are Gwen's parents) was not very shocking for me, as that possibility had crossed my mind at least a couple times earlier in the series. 

Quote (from the ARC): 

"That's just what I don't know! What ought I to beware of?"

"Pastrami sandwiches, for one thing, and too much sunlight. It's bad for the complexion," said Lady Tilney firmly—and then she blurred in front of my eyes and I was back in the year 1956.

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars. The series as a whole didn't blow me away, but they're certainly very quick, easy reads. I think readers who enjoy time travel and history but aren't super picky about historical accuracy or sci-fi notions would enjoy this series. If you really want to figure out all the time travel details then things get complicated, but it's impressive that the author went to that much work. It seems like if you tried to connect all the dots it would probably make sense... Anyway, I think this series would actually make a really entertaining movie. 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC for review from Raincoast Books.

1 comment:

  1. I think that, when Lucy and Paul escape to the past, taking the first chronograph, it was to 1912. When Gwen and Gideon first meet them at the end of Ruby Red, they are in the year 1912. So no, Lucy and Paul have not aged since it's the same year. They can't travel to the future because the chronograph doesn't go forward, only back.


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