Author: Romina Russell
Release: December 9th 2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA
#1 in the Zodiac duology
Sequel: Wandering Star (#2)
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?
It is so gapingly obvious with this novel that Romina Russell is a debut author. She's as green as they get, and while her ideas aren't bad and her intentions are good, her execution is just peppered with flaws, mistakes and holes all around. She had the right things in mind, but she just couldn't get it all across the page, which is ultimately where this book failed the most.
Look, I really do like the idea, in fact, I am really fascinated by the zodiac and astrology is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. I'm not saying I read my horoscope every day and think all of it is real, but I do think that zodiac signs do have meaning and truth in some areas. If I read something about personality quirks of Gemini, I do relate from time to time. Now, a book about that and add a little space travel plus a good ol' revenge plot and I'm game. However, minimal effort was put into actually developing the world or explaining anything in greater detail and that's where the basic concept was already starting to fall apart at the seams.
Because I could have ignored the terrible love triangle, the stereotypical main characters or the generic plot twists if the world at least was interesting and, in some ways, true — Cancer as nurturer? Aquarius as philosopher???? What? I don't know, but to me some of these traits just seemed so out of left field and unreasonable, I called shenanigans. As a result, the whole thing was simply unrelatable and every time the heroine drew a sense of strength from her home country, or more specifically, the "Cancer Sea" I was like ... uhhh sure??? yeah ok????? and I just. Couldn't follow or sympathize, at all.
Which might also have to do with the fact that the characters themselves weren't done very well, either. They were clichéd archetypes that I have seen a billion times, granted, at least they weren't the bad, annoying archetypes a lá Bella Swan and Jacob Black/Edward Cullen, but still, I felt like they were bare skeletons.
As such, their relationships were horrible to watch. It was reminiscent of a train wreck in multiple ways, because I knew exactly what was going to happen and how it was going to pan out, but I couldn't do anything to stop it, all I could do was watch disaster take its course and let me tell you, it wasn't pleasant. I will say that at least none of the two main relationships are toxic, unhealthy ones, but both were, again, undeveloped and unfathomable to me. Hysan's constant, unwavering support was unrealistic and almost too good to be true, so much so that it came to the point where he was just annoying the living crap out of me being so blinded by Rho and taking her side the whole goddamn time, like some sort of whipped puppy. Mathias, on the other hand, was infuriating with how little he trusted her, but I think I preferred him over Hysan as a love interest because he at least challenged Rho in some way. Love isn't always agreeing and nodding heads, it's also to educate and look out for each other, so him trying to get Rho to look at things from another perspective was at least in some way appreciated.
At the end of the day, this novel does have potential, and I'm hopeful that maybe the sequel might actually go somewhere. I think I'll read the second book because I'm curious, but honestly, I'm not invested in the world nor the characters at all to be honest, so I'm not sure how it's gonna go. We'll see, I guess.