Book 1 in Romina Russell’s Zodiac series is a YA sci-fi featuring-you guessed it!-the zodiac constellations.
Beware the 13th sign
That’s the tagline for this series. In this future universe mankind have settled into twelve houses. These houses are the zodiac, and they’re a system of moons and planets that look like the twelve constellations. The world building based on the zodiac signs was pretty cool and different to me and I liked the mythos that went into this.
So, we have 16-year-old Rhoma Grace from House Cancer who’s a student on one of her planet’s moons as our main character. Her mom left her, her dad, and her brother, and the only thing she ever taught Rho was how to read the stars. One day while having an outdoor (as outdoor as you can get on a moon) concert when her House is attacked. Cancer’s moons are destroyed causing catastrophe on the planet itself and killing the House’s Guardian.
Suddenly, Rho’s world is not only smashed but turned upside down as earlier she kept seeing a vision in the stars. This dark vision points to an old legend about a thirteenth house and its Guardian, Ophiuchus. Rho is then made the new Guardian of her House and while she tries to warn her council of the dangers, they don’t believe her.
After a few encounters with the big baddie himself, Rho sets out to warn the other Houses of danger heading their way. With her is Lodestar Mathias and ambassador Hysan from House Libra which sets up a-you guessed it again!-love triangle. (Telling you right now, Team Hysan! Yes, I’m shipping! Space shipping!)
Needless to say, these other Houses don’t really take her seriously either. An old zodiac boogieman coming to get us? He caused all these calamities? Get real!
The people in this world rely heavily on the “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” philosophy which makes things frustrating for Rho.
Rho has a single-minded purpose of getting the other Houses to believe Ophiuchus is real so they can prepare themselves which prevents any other path to think about. I was left thinking that she wasn’t thinking things through or trying to come up with alternatives if certain things didn’t work out. So you warn these Houses and then what? How are they suppose to protect themselves? Since no one believes you so far, what else could you do in the meantime?
It’s understandable that Rho didn’t think of these things. She’s 16 and is suddenly thrust into the highest position her House has to offer. Everything’s happening too fast and Rho herself says towards the end that she was going at breakneck speed traveling all over the Zodiac. She never got to slow down.
No one really gave her any helpful advice on the journey and the advice she did get from a few fellow Guardians was cryptic and vague. It’s not until after the fact that the meanings sink in.
Rho does try and her perseverance shines through. The other Houses do end up believing her to a point. And I say a point because when they put together an armada to go get Ophiuchus they put her as a figurehead which later doubles as a scapegoat when things end disastrously.
Like adults, the head honchos don’t let her in on any strategy meetings, brush off any concerns she may have, treating her like a child. Okay, little girl, you cried wolf and were right this time. Now stand back and let the adults handle this.
Only they get bitten so to speak. Badly. Then blame it on Rho.
The last few chapters really made me angry for Rho at her treatment. There are hopeful tones at the end though. Rho will stand strong and protect the Zodiac alone or with help.
A good start to a series all-in-all. Romina Russell has a readathon of the current three books going on, all leading up to the release of the fourth and final book.
Check out Russell on twitter @RominaRussell for discussions and more or zodiacbooks.com for info about the Zodiac world. This was a good series to get into and I’m hoping to finish Wandering Star and Black Moon by the time Thirteen Rising comes out. Summer reading is on!