I promise, I do read about things besides YA romance and time travel. But it's summer, and right now we need poolside reading and airport books. So for the foreseeable future, it's all YA romance and time travel, all the time! Do you like your time travel with a side of medieval pseudoscience and a heaping helping of secret societies? ME, TOO! So read on.
Here's the premise: For 500 years, time travel has run in Gwen Shepherd's family. Starting around their 16th birthdays, certain members of the family swing through time like pendulums. They use a unique gadget called a chronograph to control when (not where!) they go, because travelling to Plague years is no fun.
Gwen's prissy cousin Charlotte inherited the time travel gene in their generation. Charlotte's life has been like a weird history/etiquette/fencing bootcamp in preparation for her time traveling activities, but don't feel sorry for Charlotte--she's a bitch with a superiority complex! So Charlotte is due to start hanging out with Marie Antoinette at any moment... but instead, Gwen is the one who falls through time.
Here's where it gets awesome: (also, minor spoiler alert!)The de Villiers family also carries the time travel gene, and those de Villiers boys are really really hot. A shadowy Knights Templar-eqsue organization called the Guardians has been studying and protecting the two families for the past 500 years. Alchemy and astrology figure prominently in the Guardians' work. Sir Isaac Newton(!) used astrology to predict the exact birth date of each traveler. And each traveler is associated with a certain color, gemstone, and musical note. The book is illustrated with alchemical charts showing the travelers' relationships to each other. I love that.
Here are the minor spoilers: Gwen, the last and most important traveler, is The Ruby. But something has gone wrong: Gwen wasn't expected to be The Ruby! To complicate matters, there seems to be a conspiracy within the Guardians. Is Gwen being protected or controlled by them? What happened to Gwen's time-traveling cousin Lucy, who ran away from the Guardians and is living sometime in the past? Why did Lucy rebel against them? And what should Gwen do about Gideon de Villiers, aka The Diamond? He's the really really hot guy with whom Gwen is now travelling through time. Did I mention that he's really really hot? Yeah.
Here's what I love about this book: Gwen is believable and likable because she's completely normal. She's not an orphan living under the stairs (HELLO, HARRY) or an emotionally dead hunter living in an enslaved mining community (HI, KATNISS). Gwen is a girl who loves watching movies with her best friend. She's confident enough to trade insults with the class bully, but she does have a sensitive side--Charlotte's snide remarks hurt her.
Here's what I don't love: Have you ever read a book where the main character has a secret that they really ought to tell someone, and the plot doesn't progress because the character won't tell? I hate that! When Gwen first travels through time, she and the reader know exactly what happened--but Gwen doesn't tell anyone who can help her until page 101. Meanwhile, she flails around telling her best friend Oh gee, no one will believe me. It's silly and annoying.
Here's what I'm not sure about: I was excited by the parts of the story that deal with alchemy and astrology, but they weren't as detailed as I'd like. What is the significance of the colors, gems, and other alchemical associations? Why do Gwen and Gideon need to travel through time and collect a blood sample from each previous traveler to "complete the circle"? What happens when the circle is complete? The next book in the series, Sapphire Blue, will be released on October 30. I think Sapphire Blue will either make or break the series for me. Give me more medieval pseudoscience, please!