Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier. Time Travel and Gargoyles and Ball Gowns, Oh My!

Remember how much I liked Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier? I tore through that book in a weekend and couldn't wait for the second book in the trilogy. Sapphire Blue is finally out! I liked it, but it's sooooo got the second book slump that plagues so many trilogies. For me, that slump comes from constant action and little character development. But there are bright spots: In this installment, Gwen's friend Leslie embarks upon a very interesting geocaching project. And Gwen has a mischievous new gargoyle buddy named Xemerius. When he gets too excited, he spurts water. He reminds me of my favorite line from Finding Nemo: "You made me ink!" Adorable. So let's talk about the story's good points first.

Everything I like about the first book is sill in place: 

a) Gwen is a believable teenage heroine. She's not a buttkicking kung-fu master, a wizard, or a supernatural creature from another dimension. She's a normal teenage girl who really likes watching movies with her best friend, and she's bewildered by her new ability to travel through time. And sometimes she cares more about dinner than time travel, cuz it's french fry night, y'all. I get that.

b) The Guardians are still a super-creepy, ultra-regimented secret society. They have a Knights Templar-esque clubhouse, impossibly detailed logs going back hundreds of years, a fixation with astrology and alchemy, and a vaguely defined mission to collect time travelers' blood and "Complete the Circle." I love that shit. 

c) Even though there are ominous prophesies and scary sword fights that leave Crush Boy all sliced up, the tone is very light. Xermerius' antics and Gwen's drunken musical performance will crack you up. When Gwen travels through time to meet The Bad Guy, you totally expect her to get home in time for french fry night. It's comforting.

So, what's the problem with this book?

a) It has no discernible storyline or resolution. All books must have a story arc that gets resolved, even when the book is part of a larger series. The Harry Potter books are a wonderful example: Each one is a self-contained story that makes sense and can be read alone. But Sapphire Blue doesn't have a defined story arc. It's like Hey, let's hit the ground running. Stuff is happening! And more stuff is happening! And now stuff isn't happening because the book just ended. Instead of leaving me wanting more, I felt gypped.

b)  Gwen's crush on Gideon is annoying. She's not a weak girl, but her weakness for Gideon is a problem. He runs hot and cold, alternately making out with Gwen and then ignoring her. Yeah, he's got a perfect face, but he's acting like a jerk. Stop mooning over him, Gwen! I wish there was more snappy dialogue between Gwen and her friends, and less Heathcliff style brooding over Crush Boy.

c) In most of this  book, Gwen is either traveling through time or preparing to travel through time. The nonstop action = Little character development. I think certain events (no spoilers from me!) should've elicited a stronger emotional response, or at least prompted more reflection. But this book is all action, all the time. The following illustration sums it up:
Sapphire Blue created more questions than it answered, so I'm looking forward to the third installment, Emerald Green. Hopefully it tells us important things, like what's up with Paul and Lucy? What is Count St. Germain's real background? What adorable mischief is Xemerius going to get into next? Will someone please kick Gideon in the teeth?  And what happens when one completes the circle? And hey, this is also worth noting: The first book has been made into a German movie that comes out next month. No, it's not in English, but if the trailer is any indication, it looks good! At 0:23, when Madame Rossini appears, I grinned like mad. She's perfect!

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P.S. All trolls will be fed to the bookworms.