Zodiac (Zodiac, #1) by Romina Russell
Published December 9th 2014 by Razorbill
Source: Traded
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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?

So I’ll admit – I was lured in by the whole “thirteenth zodiac thing” because of Fruits Basket. I can’t help it, really. Anytime I see the phrase “thirteenth zodiac” for the rest of my life, I’m probably going to flash back to Fruits Basket. And cry a little. But Zodiac turned out to be nothing like Fruits Basket. It was more… think Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series! But with Divergent houses, and it’s set in space. Except for Zodiac doesn’t read nearly as cool as it sounds.

First of all, nothing really happens at the beginning? The first few parts are kind of boring and makes you tempted to skim, except for there is crucial worldbuilding stuff lurking around, so you can’t really. Then we hit the second half and honestly the politics and psy stuff would be kind of cool. And I loved the Gemini twins. But when we hit the second half, we’re also plunged into this love triangle which can be explained, as Mathias so kindly puts it: “He’s forbidden, and I’m too old.” So. It’s lovely.

HA. Paragraph break and you thought I’d leave the love triangle stuff as is but I’M NOT DONE. So there’s Hysan and Methias, and, well, I thought Hysan was pretty cool – he’s the sunny, cocky, confident type, and made the book more bearable and interesting. I experienced the burning urge to eject Mathias off the ship, but then after the love triangle started and heated up I started feeling really bad for him instead because wow does Rho leads them on. She sleeps with one of them and then gets jealous of him hanging out with other girls – which call me crazy but gives off the impression that she’s got a serious thing for him? – but then in the next instance, she’s actively encouraging the other guy with implied love confessions? ??? ??????? Is this messy love triangle really necessary? Can Rho not just. Be a young guardian and save the world. Does that not make for a good enough book?

Also I was really confused because at the beginning of Zodiac, there’s a part where Rho and Mathias interact for the first time in the book at least, and it reads as if they’re meeting for the first time ever, or at least are distant strangers, but later on Rho talks about how he’s been important to her for ages and I am Confused.

ALSO they keep emphasizing how cancer was nurturing and all about family but whereee are those qualities in Rho because I don’t see it? The family stuff’s hammered in here and there when the story remembers that Rho’s mother and father and brother exist, but the nurturing part… Well. It leaves room for discussion, to say the least. Most of the other characters were also pretty dry and forgettable in the same way, until all their personalities started melting into one large, undefined mass of Secondary Character.

Actually, in that same vein, the whole book was pretty filler-y and dry. The politics and intergalactic expeditions would’ve been super super cool had it actually gotten adequate attention and page time; the thing thirteenth zodiac guy of myth was really cool – him showing up as a different person/thing to every single house was a really smart move. Why does he fall apart when he actually shows up in the book? I don’t know if it was meant to highlight how special and capable and amazing Rho is, but in implementation, it doesn’t make Rho seem any more capable. It just makes both of them seem woefully incapable.

But most of Zodiac is overshadowed by the love triangle. As well as the writing, constantly reminding us that Rho’s special and talented and wonderful.

Zodiac had so much potential but in the end, everything I would’ve enjoyed about it took a backseat to everything that didn’t work for me.

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