Zodiac by Romina Russell
Book One of the Zodiac series
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.
When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.
Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.
But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?
What I Liked:
Ahhh, I have been waiting for this book for SO LONG. Before BEA 2014, before it had a cover, before it seemed like everyone else had heard of this one. Science fiction? Astrology? Wars? A girl named after a Greek letter? Awesome! Totally up my alley! I'm so glad to say that for the most part, this book did not let me down.
Rho's world has actually been turned upside down. She's been seeing a dark mass in her star readings, something that no one else has been seeing. Then Cancer has been attacked, and suddenly, Rho is thrust into the role of Guardian of Cancer. She must travel to each of the planets to warn them about the mysterious dark matter that is forming, and the myth that isn't a myth - Ophiuchus and the Thirteenth House is real. But who will believe her? And who will stand by her side, when all twelve Houses don't trust each other - exactly what Ophiuchus wants?
Science fiction! Ah! I love anything that has to do with space, honestly. This book gets really into that kind of science fiction - there is a lot of hyperspace hopping and planet traveling and intergalactic crazies. Well - maybe not intergalactic. Intragalactic? In any case, I love the depth of the science part of this book! Russell does an excellent job of creating and constructing this science fiction world - a world that is completely fictional (thus, not futuristic). The world-building is phenomenal and very believable and fun to read.
Also, how cool is it that my star sign is the same as the protagonist's!? Go cancer!
Also, it is worth noting that while I LOVED the original cover, I think the new cover is awesome! I would have loved a copy of the book with the old cover as well as the new cover... but ARCs (and finished copies) have the new cover. Right? Any ARCs with the old cover? Someone let me know. Ha.
Rho is an interesting character. She isn't perfect, and I didn't always agree with her decisions. She doesn't expect to be a Guardian, so I totally feel for her. She is an excellent student (something I'd like to think I relate to), an apt observer, and a clever mind. She doesn't let others' disbelief in her stop her. Her own planet didn't believe her when she started to talk about the potential of Ophiuchus being real.
Rho also doesn't let a tricky and confusing romance shake her. She is determined to visit the Houses and warn them about the impending doom that is Ophiuchus, but no one will listen to her - save a Libran ambassador, Hysan. Not even Mathias, the Lodestar she appointed to protect and serve her, believes her claims.
As you can probably guess, there IS a love triangle in this book. Not sure how it will go in the series (for obvious, spoilery reasons), but in this book, there is a love triangle. Russell does a really great (and cruel) job of making readers love one boy in the first part of the book, and then love the other boy in the second part of the book. So, basically, I actually really like both guys, and I'd hate to see one of them get hurt. Hysan is charming and flirtatious and a secret genius. Mathias is protective and skeptical and quiet. Both are different, but I really like them both, as characters AND as love interests.
The plot of this book follows Rho's journey to each House (which are planets) to warn them about Ophiuchus. None of the Houses really believe her, and with each House visited and warned, Rho's reputation both grows and splinters. I love seeing her tested, House after House. I feel like Rho definitely wises up from beginning to end.
The ending is... interesting. Nothing is really resolved, which is sort of how a first novel in a series functions. So much is occurring within Houses, in Rho's Guardian life, with Ophiuchus roaming about, in Rho's romantic life. Rho is definitely confused, and isn't about to make a decision in terms of a relationship anytime soon. Which is smart.
Overall, I'm pleased with this book! I've been begging and pleading for it, and then it dropped into my lap - which is cool with me! Thank you, Razorbill! Now, the wait for book two...
What I Did Not Like:
The love triangle is the only reason why this one isn't getting five stars. Seriously, I enjoyed the book that much. I'm not sure how the romance will go in the remaining books in the series, but in this book, the love triangle is clear. Rho is torn between both guys - but the thing is, I can totally see how she is. The situation makes sense, ish. I still don't like the presence of the triangle (it's not necessary, honestly), but I get it. Kinda.
Would I Recommend It:
If you love science fiction, then DEFINITELY check out this book! There aren't nearly enough awesome space-related science fiction novels in YA literature these days... Beth Revis's Across the Universe series, Amie Kaufman/Meagan Spooner's Starbound series, and Imogen Howson's Linked series are three other really great example of space-related science novels!
So, if you liked any of those books, definitely check out this one! And even if you haven't read any of them, pick this one up anyway.
4 stars. What a wonderful debut! I'm so glad that my instinct was correct with this one, and that the story did not disappoint. That would have been heartbreaking! What's really heartbreaking is waiting for the next book...
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