Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Gwyneth Shepherd has led a carefree life compared to her cousin Charlotte. She gets to spend time with her best friend, Lesly, watch any movies she wants, basically have a barely structured life outside of school compared to Charlotte who has to take fencing lessons, etiquette lessons, extremely thorough history lessons and other lessons all geared towards a life of time travel because she has supposedly inherited the family gene. For time travel. Through time.
However, we find out that Gwen's mother lied about her actual birth date and she was the one to inherit the family gene. For time travel. Through time. Gwen is unexpectedly swept back in time twice before she tells her mother what is happening. Her mother takes her to the Guardians who have the fancy chronograph machine that will control her time travel once she supplies it with a small amount of her blood. While there she meets her travel partner Gideon de Villiers who has inherited the male line gene. For time travel. Through time.
So, the basic set-up is that the gene inheriters before Gwen and Gideon, Lucy and Paul, had stolen the original chronograph that held blood samples of the ten time travelers before them. Supposedly, when the samples of all twelve gene carriers are finally in the chronograph some secret will be revealed. Somehow, Lucy and Paul learned something of what the secret might be or who it might adversely benefit and took the chronograph and hid somewhere in time, warning past gene carriers that Gideon and Gwen were be coming for their blood (no, this book doesn't have any vampires) to complete the circle of the spare chronograph. The knowledge that Lucy had, and the danger it might bring Gwen, was the impetus behind Gwen's mother lying about Gwen's actual birth date and possibility of inheriting the gene. For time travel. Through time.
The premise of this story was very promising when I first started reading it. However, the promise of time travel was a bit of a letdown. The first two times that Gwen went back in time were unexpected to her--she did't know when or where she was and how long she was going to be there. It was mostly of her hiding away while she waited to get back to her present. When she finally got in with The Guardians and Gideon the time travel was a bit more structured. Gwen knew when and where she was going and Gideon, who has been time traveling for almost two years, would be there with her for guidance and support. However the goal of the travel was more mundane than I anticipated and it was only for a few hours--not really any time for anything catastrophic or extraordinary to happen.
The very best thing about this book was the friendship between Gwen and Lesly. Gwen wasn't supposed to let anybody outside of her family know about the mysterious gene but totally disregarded that edict to let Lesly know. And it was a good thing she did! Without any of the fancy lessons that Charlotte endured Gwen was left mostly in the dark (besides what her basic schooling--and for somebody who wrote reports based on movies starring Kirsten Dunst about Marie Antoinette--that's not saying much) Lesly was invaluable doing research on certain aspects and people in the realm of Gwen's new world. I thought of her as Gwen's Hermione (you know, from Harry Potter?) with all the knowledge and background information (although more google-y than library book-y).
I think if the time travel part had been more adventurous I would have been more enamored with the story. I do see the possibility for improvement in the storyline and series from the ending of the book (no, I won't give spoilers) and because the friendship chemistry between Gwen and Lesly was so much fun (as was the eventual and tenuous friendship between Gwen and Gideon). So, in the end I think I'll progress on to the next book because I'm a bit intrigued to see what happens to these people who have inherited this unique gene. For time travel. Through time. And maybe they'll actually spend some time traveling throuh the past.