Review: Zodiac by Romina Russell

zodiacTitle: Zodiac

Author: Romina Russell

Publisher: Razorbill

Source: Gift

Check this book out on Goodreads.

Buy this book at: Chapters | Book Depository

3 stars

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 Cancerian 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? (Source: Goodreads)

Rho’s world is thrown into complete disarray when a pysnergy attack strikes on one of the moons of Cancer and millions of her people are dead. She is made into the Guardian of her planet, the leader of her people, and must act to protect them from further attack. She begins a quest across her universe to try and protect her people and find the source of these attacks. She suspects they come from the 13th house, a house of myth, but will she be able to prove this to the rest of the universe?

I’ve been waiting to read this for ages. I actually received this as a Christmas gift, yes that’s right 7 months ago, but I have been so busy with everything else I never got around to it. I’m not a huge scifi fan, so while I was drawn to the book it was never really a priority for me. I found the story compelling and I am actually interested in reading further sequels. I had some issues including the plot movement and the characters. So while I think this is an interesting read, there were definitely some things that held it back from being a truly brilliant YA book.

Russell has written an incredible world in Zodiac. There are houses of Zodiacs across the galaxy all possessing individual traits that make them stand out against each other, with each serving a separate and singular purpose. This isn’t an entirely new concept, it’s very dystopian teen fiction sounding in all honesty, but it also follows the Zodiac system that we are familiar with. Rho, the main character, is from Cancer. She is loyal and selfless, she comes from a sea world where her family are essentially fishermen. She is a university student who wants to work for the Royal Guard reading the stars. Her natural ability makes her the next Guardian of Cancer when her Holy Mother is killed by the psy attack. This is a really compelling world, a really interesting story. There are, however, some issues. Russell gets a little swept up in the action of the story and never sits still long enough to explain things. We never get a fully realized sense of the universe or the characters because there is this constant, sometimes rocky, movement. This leads to a lot of reiteration of exposition because Russell never takes time to really spell things out properly for her characters or her readers.

The characters lack a lot of definition. Rho is insecure and very Mary Jane-ish. She is constantly being told she is Cancrian at her core, but I don’t think she ever really proves this to the reader in her actions as she is very selfish. She never really considers her people for a moment, instead she is obsessed with vengeance, romance, and her Mother. I didn’t feel that she was loyal or selfless in any way. Mathias, her protector, is this stoic, hard, guardian-type. I don’t think he really had much character at all. He’s just there for Rho to pine over in the most annoying way. Then there’s Hysan, a royal emissary from Libra, who joins Mathias and Rho in there travels. He is the least trustworthy figure in the books and yet, we are supposed to blindly trust him. I didn’t fall for him at all because he is this cocky mess of obvious bad news. Brick Wall Mathias was more charming than Hysan in my opinion.

I really liked the story of this book, I thought the concept was interesting. I just don’t think it was done very well. The characters are flat and so annoyingly, stereotypical “teen novel” characters who are being rushed through what could have been an amazing space epic that the book just loses a lot of the charm and brilliance that I thought it had the potential for. I think this book is worth a read but my recommendation comes with some reservations.

Ramble on,

Have you read ZodiacLet me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Romina Russell at her Goodreads, website, and Twitter.
Connect with me on Goodreads, BlogLovin, and Twitter.

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