The 12 constellations that form the houses of the Zodiac are the backdrop for this intriguing debut novel. Cancrian Rho is attending school when she begins to have a recurring vision of a dark mass entering the universe beyond Pisces, the 12th House. Like everyone else, Rho has heard rumors of a mysterious 13th House, ruled by an evil renegade named Orphiuchus, and she suspects this might be his return to the Zodiac.
The mass seems to be stretching the fabric of the solar system and will cause disasters throughout all of the 12 houses. No one of importance credits Rho’s vision, however. But after she accurately predicts the collision of Cancer’s four moons, Rho becomes the new Guardian of her sign—a big responsibility for a 16-year-old girl. Fortunately, Rho has help from two young men vying for her affection.
Science-fiction fans will appreciate the complexity of the Zodiac universe, from the inventive ephemeral technology to the detailed creation of life in each of the 12 houses. Rho’s Cancer, for example, is a blue planet covered with water, beloved by home-loving Cancrians. Some readers may find the 12 houses to be similar in purpose to the factions and districts in other YA dystopias, complete with love interests from opposing camps. Like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, Zodiac blends elements of myth, futuristic technology and space adventure. The book’s end offers a satisfying tease for the next installment.
Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.