* Provided by the publisher for review
I’ll admit, when I first started reading this book, I was worried it was just another Hunger Games and/or Divergent wannabe that would follow the same formula. It starts out with all of the same elements: 12 Houses (districts), with a mysterious 13th; each house has its own attributes, strengths, etc.; a female, adolescent main character; and two male love interests. So Russell does use a lot of the same elements. However, she uses a very different formula.
After the first few chapters, Zodiac takes off at breakneck speed and keeps going until the end of the book. What I thought was going to be the “twist” ending turned out to be part of the world building in the very beginning of the book! And this enjoyable unpredictability continues through the rest of the book (though we will see how it lasts through the next book, which I hope Russell is working on). While it could be because I don’t read a lot of YA books, in my opinion this book is a nice, fresh mixture of storytelling elements. Predictability is low.
Of course, the pace Russell sets does have its own problems, it’s sometimes difficult to remember who is who because so many people get introduced at once. Also, some of the story elements seem too sudden for logic. To Russell’s credit, however, this is a good match for how things are going for the main character, Rho. She doesn’t exactly get time to process all that’s going on and the story is told from her perspective.
Zodiac is a delightful, fast-paced adventure that is a welcome break from some of the more formulaic YA books I’ve read. While there are familiar elements, I find this story to be well written and enjoyable. I look forward to reading more from Russell! 4 Gnomes!