Zodiac by Romina Russell
Series: Zodiac, #1
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?
Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.
Age: 16 years and up
Review: 3.5 butterflies
Rhoma—or Rho, as her friends call her—is a teenage girl learning about her world and living her life when all of a sudden, an attack she had foreseen happens. She hadn’t told anyone about what she saw because she didn’t think it was real, but when the attack happens, she begins to trust herself. I do say begins, however, because throughout this book she doubts what she sees just as much as everyone else does.
Rho has a gift—she can see dark matter in the Ephemeris, which many others can’t. When she is forced to become the Guardian of the House of Cancer, she is thrown into a battle from which she will emerge changed forever.
Throughout this whole story, one thing happens right after another, which means that poor Rho doesn’t ever have time to breathe and assimilate all of the things that have happened to her. From the attack to the danger of Ochus attacking other Houses, she is constantly on the move, trying to protect other Houses from Cancer’s fate. Unfortunately, Rho’s age and lack of experience make her a target for a whole lot of skepticism, which means that many people don’t trust the warnings she gives them—especially because everyone thinks Ochus isn’t real. Because of this, very little of the other Guardians believe her—and no one supports her—not even Mathias, a person that is very close to Rho. Throughout this novel you never know who you can trust, and you find yourself constantly doubting the predictions you made for the novel.
Rho was a character I could very easily relate to—especially because as a young adult, I am confronted by many others who think my lack of experience and my age mean that I can’t ever know truly what I’m talking about. Her drive to help other people as well as her perseverance in the face of adversity makes her a truly worthy person to be the “Holy Mother,” as Cancerians call their Guardian. While Rho made decisions that I maybe would not have done, she is definitely someone that I would have the pleasure of knowing and looking up to.
Mathias is a very interesting character. Though all I truly know about him is through Rho’s perception of him, I feel like honestly we, as readers, didn’t get much insight into him. Mathias, for the most part, was quiet and moody—and many of Rho’s training sessions were slightly glossed over. I don’t think I really got to bond with Mathias because of everything else that was going on, which saddens me.
This book seems to have that fatal error of the secondary characters being back-up and the readers not actually being able to form a connection with them. The only secondary character that I felt like we got to know a little better is Hysan. Hysan is an “ambassador” for the House of Libra, and he is one of the few secondary characters I found myself actually caring about. Unfortunately for the author, the secondary characters tend to fall a little flat—being only two-dimensional. While that isn’t always a bad thing—especially with so many secondary characters being present—I do wish we could have gotten a better look at Mathias, Hysan, and Nishi.
However, what this book lacks in secondary-character depth, it makes up for in action. Event after event happened and this book was very much fast-paced. At times it felt like Rho didn’t even have time to breathe, because she was always traveling and getting attacked. The few times this book slowed down was when Rho was forming connections with other characters, but even these were sometime glossed over in exchange for the action. This book is definitely one of those that you have to take a small break every once in a while because of all the action and suspense (you’ll feel as exhausted as poor Rho!), but you’ll be opening the book soon after to find out what happens.
I definitely recommend this book for those looking for a protagonist that is coming of age while she’s trying to save the world, as well as a book that has fantasy, a lot of action, and a little bit of forbidden romance to spice things up. This is the first of an unfinished series, however, so read with the warning that you’re going to have to wait for the rest of the series to be written!
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