January 1, 2016

In Which I Am Pained & Conflicted|Zodiac by Romina Russell Review

Zodiac, Zodiac, what do I say about you? I am very conflicted about how to review this book. On one hand, and don’t say this lightly, I don’t normally like sci-fi books because I get confused way too easily about all the science and math they tend to use to explain the whole space travel that goes on in them. This isn’t the case with Romina Russel’s Zodiac. There are two things that make this review conflicting and I can go into greater detail with both below:

1. I loved, I mean loved, the story of Zodiac. When I first started reading it I couldn’t get past how well Romina Russell weaves together the idea of the Zodiac and an epic battle that just makes you want to keep turning the pages. It reminded me of Eon: The Lost Dragoneye and how both of these authors wove together popular and well-loved mythology to make incredibly compelling stories. My only issue with the plot and story is that the Cancer world seemed to be held in a better light than most of the planets that were visited. Gemini was full of people that didn’t want to grow up and did horrible things to keep their youth, Libra was well I won’t say what Libra did because it’s a big spoiler, and Aries is a horrible place to be because of the crime. I’m not going to lie, I’m an Aries, and when I read the list of what the houses bring and read that Aries was military, I felt kind of jipped. Cancer was nurturing, Libra was justice, Sagittarius was curiosity. All of these seemed to be positive and Aries seemed to be more of an occupation and negative with their contribution being military. Why not determination?

2. Unfortunately, where Eon: The Last Dragoneye had fractured and damaged characters that compelled me and drew me into the story, Zodiac did not. I felt myself frustrated not only with the characters and their choices but their choices; the romance being a big part of what I did not like. I’m going to break it down a little further to make it easier to read because I feel like this paragraph might get a little big if I was to do it all at once.

• Rho or Rhoma: Rho’s personality and a lot of her choices made it very difficult to connect with her and unfortunately is one of the biggest reasons that I thought this book was okay and not spectacular. As in any story when you are dividing people into groups based off of a personality trait the world is innately flawed right off the bat because people do not fit into one specific box. Rho herself is a conflicting character that made it very hard to understand her let alone connect with her as a main character. Cancrian’s are described as being nurturing and above all else put their mothers in high esteem. When Rho is faced with the accusation that her mother, who left Rho when she was younger, was not only found but accused of treason she acted very oddly. She doesn’t act emotional (which is another Cancrian trait) in the fact that her long lost mother has been found. Instead of wanting to see her mother she gets angry at the accusation that someone that is a Cancer would commit treason.


• The Romance: While reading this book I tweeted something that I think sums up my feelings about the romance in this book.


The thing that sent me reeling is how unrealistically fast and not only how it turns the story at sometimes from an interesting and compelling story into a soap opera; not even a compelling soap opera that you want to watch. I hate when things are used in plots and they are blatantly just plot devices to start a romance that shouldn’t actually exist, and if it does it should be harder than just snapping of the character’s fingers. When Rho is picked (with so much hesitancy) to be the new Cancer Guardian when the old one dies she is told by Mathias she is to select her twelve Advisors that she should designate one as her Guide.

“I’ve been sent to deliver a message. Admiral Crius has transmitted the candidates for your Council of Advisors to your Wave.”


“Once you have selected your twelve Advisors….”


“In one week,” he says picking up the old thread again, “there will be a ceremony and dinner in your honor, where you will be sworn in as our House’s new Guardian…Rho. It’s important you select the rest of your Advisors before then. During this week, I will also be training you.”
(pg. 48)

Conveniently and without thought Rho chooses Mathis as her Guide and by default one of her Advisors. Is any time spent for Rho to find her other 11 advisors? No. Mathias is the only one that we get to see her pick, interact with, or any time being spent to get to know.

The next day I return to the room where I was made Guardian, and I sit with Crius, Agatha, Dr. Eusta, and Mathias, while they introduce me to eight people – the rest of my Advisors.”

So, the jackasses that lied to you and treated Rho like she was an incapable child automatically get to be four of her advisors? Mathias said that she had a week to pick her advisors and they get chosen for her within a day? I love political intrigue and backstabbing politics and I felt that this was not only a great way to introduce this but to put some dimension into some secondary characters. Unfortunately, it was not in fact that but a fucking plot device for an otherwise impossible romance to be more possible. Horrible and after this I had zero interest in the relationship of this book.

Now, this next thing happens to mix a little bit of my issues with Rho’s personality and the romance aspect together. A week goes by in a matter of a chapter and a half and the only thing that is accomplished is Rho spending time and working on her relationship with Mathias. Really? No time is spent with her other three advisors, let alone the other eight that are mentioned only in passing. Then, when Rho figures out that what happened in Cancer is going to happen to the other planets and that it is Ochus, their boogeyman, she expects them to just believe her and feels offended when they don’t. Of course, especially when despite them only having serious interactions with each other a week ago, Mathias distrusts her.

Mathias scrutinizes her, then me. I’m so furious with him that I’m trembling. Does he really think I would be going through this if I wasn’t sure of what I saw? How could he swear his allegiance to me on his Mother’s life, and a few hours later turn his back when I need him the most?”

He’s just like Dean Lyll, Admiral Crius, Dr. Eusta…. They don’t take my readings seriously because they don’t take me seriously. They don’t respect me. Mathias does not respect me.
(pg. 94)

Then fucking magically, he reads her face and her hurt feelings and then sticks up for her? These four people don’t trust you because you’re young or you haven’t done or said anything that proves otherwise? I have decided to condense my feelings, especially towards the romance, to the beginning of the book because it is where most of my issues stemmed. After the first 100 pages I was just in it for the mythology and story, not the characters or invested in much of how they felt.
The only thing that saved this story in my opinion was the story and most importantly the world that Russell created. I will definitely pick up Wandering Star because I loved it so much and want to see how the story all connects. Unfortunately, though, it will not be with as much enthusiasm as I had picking up Zodiac because of how I feel about the characters and the romance that I know is going to continue during the story.


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