Author: Romina Russell
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published December 2014
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Summary: 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?
I received this copy of Zodiac from my co-blogger Amber after it had made its way through our other blogger friends (Dana @ Dana Square, Britt @ Please Feed the Bookworm, & Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books!) through The Bloggerhood of the Traveling ARC. Needless to say, by the time it arrived to me it was covered in sticky notes with everyone's opinion - and I was so eager to add mine!
There was definitely a lot of world-building to wade through first - which was more than expected, since an entire new galaxy was created with the different astrological signs representing different constellations and planets. It's a pretty cool concept, and every single planet has a particular strength from their particular sign. (As an Aries, I was surprised to learn that my sign actually revolves around military strength and war. It's such a cute little goat!)
Anyway, the first half of the book pretty much requires your full attention because so much is going on with character development, world building, and pretty much a ton of stuff about the astrological signs that nobody ever really stopped to think about. Russell deserves a lot of props for building such a complex and awesome and DIFFERENT world - I fell in love with every single second of it, good and bad!
A character that I really wasn't a fan of was Mathais, from the very beginning. (Amber's definitely cringing reading this right now, but it's true - and we tend to clash with book love interests all of the time!) I'm a big fan of Hysan, because he is just *swoon* <3, but Mathais always struck me as cocky and arrogant and definitely thinking he was better than everyone else. Whether or not that was the author's intention, I still didn't like him.
As for Rho herself, I fell in love with the fact that she followed her instincts through and through. In pretty much every book I've ever read, the protagonist always keeps a whole slew of information to themselves, against their better judgement, and it's so frustrating because you just know it's going to backfire on them and you just want to scream at them to spit it out already. With Rho, it was different. She always said what she needed to because she knew it was the right thing to do. She knew the lives of her people counted on her, and she rose up to the challenge.
(Okay, there may have been a tidbit or two she was hesitant to share throughout the book. But overall, I was impressed with the way Russell painted Rho to constantly speak her mind for the good of her people.)
One other thing I would have liked to know more about was Rho's mother, since she's only briefly touched on in this book. I'm hoping that the second book in the Zodiac series will have some more information on that, because I want to know what caused her to run away and leave her family behind - a trait that is so rare on Cancer that it's never truly seen.
All in all, Zodiac was a complex, thrilling read that held my attention from start to finish, and I'm certainly more than excited to get a start on the second book! Also, a special shoutout to all of my Bloggerhood buddies who got a chance to pass this book on to me! You guys rock big time! :-)