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In ZODIAC, humanity has long left the earth and moved on to another group of planets named after Zodiac signs. Telling the future is the new science of this galaxy, until one girl starts predicting the impending doom of all twelve planet constellations brought upon them by the mysterious thirteenth star sign.
Why it intrigued me: I love everything astrology and I'm a sucker for books with a space theme. Also, this probably has the most beautiful cover of 2015.
Mediocre World Building Can't Carry This Premise
Though the premise is very, very promising, Russell absolutely fails in world building. The biggest problem of the book is that it's set in a distant future instead of an alternate timeline or fictional world. Having those twelve planet constellations named after the star signs with each person living there having a personality associated with that star sign, is pretty hard for me to believe. Even taking this as just high fantasy concept, it's nothing that we haven't seen before. *cough* DIVERGENT *cough*
ZODIAC has this nice concept and promising idea of fortune-telling futuristic humans living somewhere in space, but that's it. A lot of it doesn't make sense and the biggest problem is that so many concepts are named, but remain unexplained. I don't even remember all the specific names for emperors and soldiers and matriarchs. There is so much lingo in this and so much unexplained, complicated pseudo-world building that I was just at a loss at some point and felt like giving up.
I'm not sure what the world of ZODIAC is trying to be. High fantasy, futuristic, science fiction, something entirely unique? For a different galaxy there is just too little imagery to even create a world in my head.
From Zero to Holy Mother of Everything??
I'd forgive all the issues I have with the confusing world of ZODIAC if the characters were decent and likable. Rho Grace is a fortune teller from the planet Cancer that somehow is able to tell the future without any science-y gadgets. So far so good. She's one of those blank slate characters that you can't help but not care about because she doesn't really have a personality.
But then she randomly gets promoted to emperor of everything and addressed as Holy Mother for literally no reason at all and her voice and everything just changes and I felt like I must have skipped 300 pages of character development by accident. Honestly, I've never had the issue with too much character development before, but this novel will probably become my standard example.
The whole novel is simply about her trying to convince everyone that someone coming from the ancient long forgotten thirteenth planet is trying to kill everyone. Along the way she also falls in love with two very easily forgettable, replaceable love interests who I'm sure were pretty much taken straight from SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi. It's just every cliche every packed in an insanely beautiful cover and thrown into space. Can I get my time back?
Overall: Do I Recommend?You can try, but it's just too light for me. Nothing I haven't read 700 times before and with a way better execution. It's every debut YA novel ever smashed into one. I'm grieving for the wonderful premise.
Published: November 9th 2015
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space and Other Planets
"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)