book review: zodiac



"You were born for this. I should have told you every day."

I bought Zodiac by Romina Russell without really planning to. One of my friends loved it so much and recommended it, and i was especially interested when she said that the main character's zodiac is Cancer. Seeing as I'm also a Cancer, I was excited to discover how much i would be able to relate to the main character, and also learn about the different zodiacs. In a nutshell, i love this book! I'm pretty sure Zodiac or its sequel will make it into my top 10 books of the year (even though it's the first book i read this year). I'm rating this beauty 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Summary from Goodreads:
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?

I don't really know where to start. Firstly, one of the reasons i was never really interested to read this book was because of the rating it had on Goodreads(3.68 out of 5). I guess i prefer to prioritize reading books that are rated at least 3.8. After reading this book, i'm actually very shocked that the rating on GR isn't at least a 4.0. I did read some of the reviews from people who didn't like the book, and honestly i can't fully agree with them. I do have some minor issues but overall i really enjoyed Zodiac. I guess to be fair, whether or not a person would enjoy this book would depend on their own reading preferences.

Let's first talk about the world building. THE WORLD BUILDING. IS. AMAZING. I just love how every zodiac has their own planet and moons, and on each planet they have their own way of living based on their traits and personality. It was truly incredible to discover the different cultures and traditions each zodiac has, and even though only a few zodiacs were elaborated to great detail in the first book, it was still a lot and even then there's still a lot more to find out about. I really hope in the sequel we get to go to the other zodiacs' planets and be amazed by them as well. Among my favourite descriptions were that of Gemini and Libra's cities, the concept of the Ephemeris and having a Center, the embassies at the International Village and how anything Cancer-related always makes Rho feel at home.

However, as incredible as the world building is, it's also quite heavy. Unlike series like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson etc. where the main character is an outsider who learns about the new world they discover(and we learn with them), in Zodiac the protagonist is already a part of that world, so it's a little tricky to learn about this world that's entirely new to us but not to the main character. It wasn't like the character could say "Oh a Wave is pretty much like a super advanced smartphone people on Earth had" just so that we could understand. Those kind of things had to be described from the way the characters interacted with the items, and the reader would have to sort of assume for themselves what they are. This bothered me at first, but i realised later that it made sense for the author to present the new world the way she did. It took a great deal of focus for me to read the first half of the book(which was why it took me longer than usual to finish), because there were just so many new things to discover while the story built up its plot. But after a while when I got used to the the general idea, it became easier to focus more on the plot and characters rather than the world building.

Ahh, the characters. I can't say that i really loved the main character, Rho, because she was a little annoying at times. But at the same time, i have to admit that i really connected to her; I could relate to how she felt for certain situations and there was this one scene(i'll elaborate more in the spoiler section) where i just felt like i was in her shoes and it just felt so real that i cried. Yep, i CRIED at 5am in the morning. I could relate to quite a lot of the Cancer traits and find myself getting excited every time a familiar one was described. The other two main characters, Mathias and Hysan, were quite attractive and i found myself being very confused for about half of the book regarding which boy I was rooting out for Rho to end up with. Eventually i settled to be on Team Mathias but hotdamn Hysan is undeniably swoon-worthy as well. I found Hysan to be very similar to Throne of Glass' Dorian, and Mathias to be like Chaol. We all know Chaol is my bookish husband, so i guess it makes sense that i would fall for him more.

I think the only problem i had with the book was the way parts of the plot were executed. I'm generally okay with the whole story line, but there were certain times when something had happened so suddenly and lacked more description that it just felt a little off. Or maybe it was because I didn't think the author fully managed to let the readers capture the whole picture of some of the scenes, making it feel quite rushed and unfinished. Other than that, there were so, so many minor characters and new places introduced that it was a little difficult for me to keep up. Sometimes i had to flip back a few pages just to check who a character was or which planet the city mentioned is in, so it was easy to get lost especially when I was already tired from the day and wanted to do a bit of reading before sleeping. It bothered me just a little because we didn't really get to know much about all of the characters. However, they had really cool names like Rho, Hysan, Caaseum, Rubidum, Moira, Stanton etc. that sound kind of futuristic which really gave me the whole sci-fi vibe. Also worth mentioning; there was a side character named Mallie mentioned and i think i screamed a little when i read it, haha.

The style of writing was very easy to follow, and there were nice parts here and there that i marked for future reference. Some of the romantic lines were very cheesy, but i'm glad that it's a cute cheesy that i like. The ending of the book didn't have much closure and i was already heartbroken by something that had happened that I didn't close the book feeling cheerfully satisfied. I was confused with how i was supposed to feel, but at the same time was absolutely excited to read the sequel. I might get around to it next month though, because I feel like i need to read something light and fluffy to let my heart mend.

***SPOILER SECTION***

The love triangle:
To be honest, I kind of like the love triangle in this book. Seeing as Rho was still getting to know both Mathias and Hysan, I myself was confused about which guy i liked more. I made up my mind and chose Mathias during the part when Rho was being attacked by snipers on the way back to the Thaises' quarters. The way he tried to protect her, and when he got hurt and Rho's all "You're hurt-" and he pulls her into a hug, kisses her forehead and says "Doesn't matter. You're okay." GAHHHHHHHH my heart. I love that part so much, is that weird? But then when she spent more time with Hysan later and actually slept with him, I wasn't too upset or annoyed with Rho. Even though I went all "SHIT NOOO" when i realised they were going to have sex(I didn't want her to get into trouble because they are both Guardians and of course, I wished it was with Mathias instead), but i was kind of half-shipping her and Hysan together. Later, it had seemed like it was more of a one-night stand kind of thing because she needed to cope with the news of losing her dad. So i wasn't too disappointed and still had hope for her to be with Mathias.

I was so happy but confused when she and Mathias finally kissed. It was confusing because she seemed to equally like both guys, but there wasn't really time to think about it since an attack was about to happen. Oh God. Mathias.

I refused to believe he was dead, so i was so confused if he really was dead or not because Rho never actually clearly saw him dying. But when Sirna told him his final words, i knew that it must have been real. I didn't cry because it was so sudden, but i did get teary. I know she couldn't really mourn for his death at that moment, but i was frustrated that we didn't get to have a proper emotional moment to cry our broken hearts out for Mathias's death. Thankfully, there was a short scene a while later with Rho and Hysan, where Hysan comforted her in saying "Like you, he chose to do the honourable thing. Don't take that from him". I started getting teary again at that. It was so brief, but i appreciated that we could see Mathias's death as heroic. I feel guilty for being glad that Rho felt like she needed to be away from Hysan for a while after telling him she has feelings for both him and Mathias. The only thing that was still upsetting was the fact that Mathias never knew the truth about Rho's feelings for both guys.

Okay, now to the part that i freaking cried. Page 310. It was the part after she got stripped from her Guardianship and got mocked and humiliated as she went out onto the streets, not knowing where to go anymore. It was horrible. People were blaming her, calling her awful things, and throwing things at her. I've had personal experience at public humiliation before, and even though it wasn't at all as terrible as what Rho had gone through, it still reminded me of the traumatic memory and i just really felt her pain right there and then. And then, i cried even more when Hysan had actually come back and saved her from the people attacking her. I could feel her relief, and i felt like hugging her tight. Okay, i really am weird. But that was the moment i felt the most connected to Rho. I don't think everyone could connect to that moment like i had, but that's okay.

Later after finishing the book, I realised that Rho and Hysan can finally be together in the next book if they want to. Since Mathias is out of the picture and Rho is no longer Guardian, it would work out this time and i think i would ship it(as long as she doesn't completely forget about Mathias).

***END OF SPOILERS***

I read this one review on Goodreads that kind of pissed me off. She was dissing the author for not coming up with a more original storyline with non-typical Young Adult fiction elements.I don't think it's fair to rate or judge a book so negatively just because you've read something similar to it before. I mean, what if you'd stumbled across this book first before the other ones? Would you have rated it higher if it was your first time reading something like that? Probably. So i don't really want to take away credit just because it's another love-triangle or things like that. Even though i did find this book to have similarities with other YA books, i still really enjoyed it.

I would recommend this book if you're an "easy to please" reader like me. If you don't mind love triangles and typical YA storylines but with a fascinating concept and world, then you absolutely should read it. I'm glad that some people enjoyed it as much as i did, and i guess that those who didn't just have different reading preferences.

2 comments:

  1. sounds good Malie! I think I could relate with you at the easy to please readers haha. most books I've read I would just love it. it's so difficult to find a book that could displease me. the only genre, so far, which I kinda dislike it is like Beautiful series by Jamie McGuire or After series by Anna Todd. I could barely finish Beautiful Disaster :(

    ReplyDelete
  2. Farhana: in that case i think you might actually enjoy this book! do try reading it and let me know what u think! :D

    ReplyDelete

 

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