Zodiac: Review

January 27, 2015 2.5 star books, 2014, Peyton, sci fi or futuristic 15 ★★½

Zodiac: ReviewZodiac by Romina Russell
Series: Zodiac Series #1
Published by Razorbill on December 9, 2014
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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two-half-stars
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?

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.

Zodiac is the first in a science fiction series that centers around a galaxy where every planet takes after, both in name and its populations’ core values and personality, the different signs of the zodiac. Sounds cool, right? I was intrigued by the premise both because it seemed ripe for lots of cool world-building (and also anything centered around astrological signs is awesome). Unfortunately, Zodiac suffered from too much exposition and flat characters.

The plot of Zodiac centers around there being a thirteenth sign that has returned to destroy the rest of the signs. After one of these attacks decimates most of Cancer’s population, including its Guardian, the person who protects and  leads the planet, our main character, Rho, is chosen to be her successor. Rho is the only person who believes Ophiuchus, the thirteenth sign is to blame. She goes across the galaxy with her advisor and an envoy from Libra to warn the other planets’ Guardians of their imminent peril. Although, the story starts on a high-adrenaline note with the attack on Cancer, that very soon dies off in favor of lots of travelling and talking. There is action at the beginning and end, but the bulk of the story is the process of getting to all the different planets, trying to warn the other Guardians, not being believed, and heading off to the next point. It made everything feel very slow when I wanted something action-packed.

What we didn’t get in action we got in world-building. Lots and lots of world-building. Now, normally I love world-building. If I have complaints, it’s because not enough thought has been put into the world. But, here the story suffers from too much thought going into everything. Every other paragraph is explaining something about the history, the mannerisms, the culture, even the agriculture of whatever planet that happens to be relevant to the moment. And, given that there are twelve planets (and some moons too), it happens a lot. Even the dialogue is often used as a vehicle to get across more exposition. There was so much exposition on the world that I could barely remember it all, let alone which detail applied to which planet. There wasn’t enough time given to make me care about this universe so that I would want to know all this information. A lot of the details about the different planets was interesting, and I think it would have worked better if the story spent more time in one spot to develop those ideas, rather than jumping planet to planet and spending most of the time on a ship in transit.

Because most of the narration and dialogue was devoted to explaining the plot and world, not much time was spent developing the actual characters. Rho starts out as a normal, albeit very gifted, student, only to be thrust into the role of leader of an entire planet in the very beginning. There is so little time spent on who she is before she becomes a Guardian that we don’t get to see the change that happens. She is a vehicle for the plot. All she talks about is Ophiuchus, the fate of the galaxy, or about her conflicting feelings over the two guys helping her. The only time where I really got a feel for her as a character was when she was thinking about her family, who she is very close to, but those moments are few and far between.

There are two main supporting characters.  Mathias, Rho’s advisor, is the more bland of the two. His only character traits seem to be that he is competent, skeptical of Ochus, and that he likes Rho. Hysan, the other love interest, fares a little better. He is the cocky, but also really gifted envoy of Libra and he is the only one who stands a part as his own character. He is given the past and depth that Mathias does not. I think I ended up liking him so much just because he was the only one of the three who was actually his own defined person.

And, yes, there is a love triangle. As it was, it didn’t add much to the story. I would have rather the time spent on it been used to develop Rho as a character. The only thing I liked about it was that I legitimately couldn’t tell who Rho was going to end up with pretty much until it was decided, but since I didn’t care about any of the characters, I didn’t feel a drive to see who Rho chose or how all three of their relationships developed.

I have to say, Zodiac was not my favorite. Too much exposition and world-building, not enough action, and flat characters kept this one from living up to the cool premise to me. Even so, it leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger and left me just interested enough that I might have to pick up the next one. And, I need to find out if there is more Aquarius representation later on because let’s be honest here, when you think about a sic-fi epic centered around the zodiac signs, you want to see your sign being awesome. Is that too much to ask?

Have you read Zodiac? How did you think your sign was represented?

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15 Responses to “Zodiac: Review”

  1. Karlee Bradbury

    I’m glad I read your review. I put this down on my tbr list because it sounded really interesting. I’m still interested to read it, but I’ll probably get through my library instead of buying it.

  2. Chrystal

    This book is in my review pile. It sounded so promising. I’m still going to read it for review, but now I’m wondering if I will enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

    Great review – you put a lot of thought behind your points.

  3. Carina Olsen

    Great review Peyton. <3 I'm sorry you had issues with this book :\ I adore the cover. But have never been interested in the book, hih. And love triangle too? UGH. Not for me. Sigh. Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Cress Tuesday #66

    • Peyton

      Thanks! :) I know, the cover is awesome! I was interested just because I love all the things astrology and don’t think I’ve ever come across something with this kind of premise. But, yeah, there were a few too many things wrong with the this one that kept me from really enjoying it.
      Peyton recently posted…Zodiac: Review

  4. Pili

    I am very intrigued about this one, but I feel like too much exposition might clog up a bit the reading experience.
    And a love triangle? Hmph… not very keen on those, more often than not I end up disliking those.
    I might end up waiting for the sequel to come out before deciding if I start the series or not.
    Pili recently posted…A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd Release Day Blast!!

    • Peyton

      The exposition does slow the story down a lot.

      I’m like you, I pretty much never like love triangles. I will say that it wasn’t obvious who she was going to pick for most of the book. A lot of times the total lack of mystery to it is what annoys me the most in love triangles.
      Peyton recently posted…Zodiac: Review

      • Pili

        Oigh, world building should enhace a book, not slow it down! What a bummer really…
        And I’m still not sure what works for me when it comes to love triangles, I guess it’s all about the vibe I get from it, sometimes it feels like it’s too obviously added there to add some comflict and doesn’t help with the progression of the character, or the story or anything else!
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  5. Allison

    Thanks for your review! This one sounds interesting, but I really don’t like books that spend way too much time on world-building and exposition. It’s exhausting to read, and it feels like you’re constantly getting information instead of a good story.
    Allison recently posted…What I’m Reading: The Good Girl

    • Peyton

      Your welcome! Yes, that’s exactly how I felt reading it. I love some cool world-building, but it has to be an organic part of the story, not giant chunks of exposition that could be used making things more exciting/the characters more fleshed out. It wasn’t a super long book, but it certainly felt long.
      Peyton recently posted…Zodiac: Review

  6. Nikki

    This sounds like a really cool premise but I agree that astrology is awesome and I would like to see is presented as such rather than just skimmed over. Especially if it’s such an important part of premise and the world-building. I’ll probably wait until the next one is out and see how people feel about it before I commit.

    • Peyton

      We do get a lot of stuff about Cancer (and a little of Libra), but I would have liked some more balance. I think that’s a good idea. This could be the kind of series that gets better with every book or just continues to do the same thing. Only time will tell!
      Peyton recently posted…Zodiac: Review