Black Moon by Romina Russell
Book Three of the Zodiac series
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?
Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared in the Zodiac Galaxy.
But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.
When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth--but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.
What I Liked:
People often question why some readers continue to read a series that they are not totally enjoying. Why waste your time? What's the point? Well, folks, THIS novel is why I keep reading a series that I might not completely enjoy. I liked Zodiac but was a little disappointed by Wandering Star, but I enjoyed Black Moon a lot. THIS is why I keep reading - because I hope that the series will get better, and how else would I know but to keep reading?
In this third novel, Rho and her friends are trying to navigate in the minefields of politics while also trying to discover the truth about the master and the Marad. Bouncing from House to House, Rho doesn't know who to trust. Her friend Nishi invites her to House Aquarius to support the Tomorrow Party, a new group that has emerged with grand plans of a House-less planet not under the jurisdiction of the Plenum. It seems like fate, since Rho has Seen her mother as an Aquarius. But everything is not as it seems on the Aquarius planet, and the truth will shock everyone.
The thing I liked probably the most about this book is Rho's character development. FINALLY I feel like I am completely on her side. She grows so much in this book, more than she did in Zodiac and Wandering Star combined (in my opinion). She is always riddled with guilt over lives lost and taken, how much she's sacrificed and how many people she has hurt. But she is learning to take the hurt and move forward, rather than wallow and shut down. Rho has to be more and more of a politician in this book, and I think she handles the constant secrets, truths, scheming, and double-crossing well.
Another thing about Rho that I was totally on board with... she finally sorts out her feelings. It's obvious to us readers that she knew all along, but I like how Rho comes to those conclusions. The beginning of the book seems like two steps backwards, but about halfway through, Rho is very definitive and assertive, and clears the air with both boys.
I hate love triangles, and 90% of why I felt disappointed by Wandering Star was because of the resurfacing of the love triangle (surprise! Mathias isn't dead, at the end of Wandering Star). But even though I hate the love triangle in the previous book, I think the author did a REALLY good job of making it disappear, in this book. I will say that both boys are alive (i.e. the author didn't do the cliche kill-one-of-the-boys-to-resolve-the-love-triangle). But the way the author removes the love triangle is really well written, in my opinion. And for me to say that... well, you all know that I abhor love triangles. This book wouldn't have gotten more than three stars, if I thought the love triangle was something more in this book. I LOVE that it disappears.
To avoid spoilers, I won't say much specifically about the romance, but I loved the romance and the direction that the author took it. Good for Rho, for sorting everything out, and NOT stringing along anyone (too much) in the process. She is intimate with one guy throughout all three books, and it is wonderful to see that she knows her mind and sticks with it, and separates past feelings for the other boy. I loved the romance, and I'm very happy with it.
I love how political this book was! There is a lot of politics, and Rho is much more than a figurehead leader. She goes to Aquarius to join the Tomorrow Party, but she recognizes that things aren't as they seem. Rho uses her influence and her skills wisely. She doesn't trust anyone, and is always looking for ways out. She's smart, and it's good in politics.
This book has a lot of parallels with events of the world today. House Cancer was practically destroyed, and the other Houses are wary of the refugees, because the Marad (think terrorists) are among the refugees of the destroyed Houses (besides Cancer). Sound familiar? How about what is happening in the Middle East, and the reputation of the refugees, how countries won't accept them? I like that Russell "went there".
One of the reasons why I stuck with this series, despite hating the love triangle in Wandering Star, is because I love science fiction books, especially novels set in space. Russell does a great job with the world-building of this series, and she has created a unique world and setting. This is science fiction with some elements that almost seem magical, and I love it.
So many revelations in this book! There is no way that this could be the end of the series. I am really looking forward to reading Thirteen Rising.
What I Did Not Like:
I'd mention the love triangle, because while it does disappear about halfway through this book, it's there in the beginning. I like that Rho is definitive in this book, but obviously I wish she had been from the start. I hate love triangles, and while I liked this book a lot, I will warn you that this series (at least, Wandering Star) does have a love triangle (though it's pretty much confined to Wandering Star, and it's not too bad - she's only touchy-feely with one guy).
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this series if you like space-related science fiction novels in YA! However, I can't recommend this series if you hate love triangles. I don't regret reading this series up until this point, but part of me wishes I had waited to possibly binge-read the books. I might have been more "okay" with the love triangle. At this point (with only one more book to go, and the love triangle being completely resolved by the midpoint of this book), anyone who hates love triangles (like me) is sort of safe to binge-read the series.
4 stars. Of the three books published so far, I think this one is my favorite. I'm most impressed with Rho's character growth (you go, girl!), but I also love the developments in the romance, and the plot twists that lead right up to the cliffhanger ending. Bring on Thirteen Rising!
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