Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

Title: Emerald Green
Author: Kerstin Gier
Publisher: Henry Holt
Rating: WARTY!

I started blogging novels just this year, and the first two novels I blogged were the first two of the Edelstein (or Ruby Red) trilogy, so it's fitting that I end this year with a review of the final volume of the trilogy, Emerald Green You can read my review of Ruby Red and of Sapphire Blue.

Once you've skipped the prologue as I did (this is the third in a trilogy! Were not the two previous volumes prologue enough, for goodness sakes?! Enough with the worthless prologues!) this novel starts out with the ultimate in cut-price fakery: Gwen having a nightmare of being stabbed in the heart. That cheap fraud was entirely unappreciated, but it does have a small bearing on a prediction her supposedly psychic relative makes later in the novel. Then we're plunged into Gwen's rather tiresome moping over leading male Major Jerk Gideon (that's not his rank and name, it's merely his entire personality). Gier repeats this type of cheap thrill again at the end of chapter nine. I thought she was a more seasoned writer than that.

I love Gier's trilogy, but for pity's sake can we not find any YA writers who can write a decent love story? The fact that this is a juvenile novel does not automatically entail a juvenile romance! Can we not find YA writers who can write a novel which actively teaches young women that pricks like like Gideon are not worth an ounce of emotion or a teaspoonful of tears? Must we brainwash our young women into thinking it's okay, even normal, to be a puppet in some manipulative scum-wad of a guy's self-idolization side-show? That it's okay to be abused and ill treated? Seriously, something needs to be done about this.

Gier does provide some humor (notably from Gwen's awesome friend Lesley) that lightens the load, and the 'fairy dies' remark was hilarious and very welcome, but even the humor is severely retrenched as compared with the first two volumes. Lesley carried the first volume, and Xemerius the animated gargoyle carried the second, but no one is shouldering that task in the third and it suffers for it. Gier doesn't lard-up the pages with tragedy anywhere near as thickly as some other writers do, but it's still tedious to read repeated references to "Gwen's tragic love life" on page after page after page. We get it. She broke up and she's broken up. Enough already. If I wanted to read reams of trash like that I'd buy a Harlequin or a Mills & Boon for goodness sakes!

In this volume, it turns out that Gwen is really Harry Potter and must die before they can be free of the evil! I am not making this up. On the good side of things, Gwen does start taking charge of her own life at this point, which is a welcome relief. Aside from her sorry and debilitating poor judgment with regard to Gideon the Asshat, she's making her own decisions and not at all willing to be buffeted around by the winds of male whim. She even makes a time travel trip when she's already in a time travel trip, which was much welcomed, and very cool. Nothing bizarre happened from it, however, which I confess I found a bit disappointing!

She finally starts to get somewhat suspicious of Count Saint-Germain, which is about bloody time, but even when she tries to impress upon Gideon how important this is, he's still a jerk. Her sister Charlotte is a jerk, too. The 'no-one is telling anyone anything' rule is still in play, so despite Gwen's importance to this project, no one is telling her a thing, not even her "mother" whom I have long suspected actually isn't her mother.

We do finally get the reverse angle on the scene from the first novel where, on her third accidental time-travel trip, Gwen sees herself in an upstairs classroom at her school. We also get a rather limp attempt by Gier to explain away one of the big issues I had in the first two volumes with this urgency to have Gwen do this on that date and time, and do that on this date and time. She can time travel for goodness sakes! It doesn't matter if she goes to the ball on this day or ten years from now - it's in the past and she can go there whenever she wants! Nor does Gier's "explanation" cover the fact that there were mysterious events in the past which a quick and surreptitious time-travel trip would have resolved, but for unexplained reasons, no one ever did this or even thought of it! Amateur hour.

Gier's excuse is that the Count is orchestrating all this and calls the shots, but neither Gwen nor I bought this! And personally, I see no reason whatsoever for her to actually go to this ball at all - except that there's this serious fracas at the ball (which would not have taken place if she and Gideon had not been there). Nothing else happens, so this stands out as no more than a really weak attempt at plotting on Gier's part.

So in the end, for once, I was pretty much right about everything I'd predicted for this trilogy! You know the writing's bad if my guesses are good. I never thought I'd do this after enjoying the first two volumes so well, but I have no choice but to rate this volume as warty. The story was dull; I found myself skipping page after page because it was, quite simply, uninteresting. The secrets were not even secret. Gwen's tiresome behavior was, well, tiresome. Gideon's big reveal that oh-so-predictably won her clueless heart in the end did nothing to excuse his behavior. The ending went on for far longer that was tenable, dragging out forever with tedious and pointless fancy dress party, and then a lousy excuse for a showdown that was over before it got underway. The epilogue wasn't worth reading. Sorry, but WARTY! What a horrid way to end the year - and to wait so long to end it this way! Then it was Twenty-THIRTEEN...!