Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ARC Review: Wandering Star

Title: Wandering Star (Zodiac #2)
Series: Zodiac
Author: Romina Russell
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Source: ARC from Penguin Teen
Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn.

But news has spread that the Marad--an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy--could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there's much more to her Galaxy--and to herself--than she could have ever imagined.

If you've been following or keeping up with my reviews for a while, you will know that last year, a book by the name of Zodiac by Romina Russell completely stole my heart. I was starstruck by Romina's world-building and storytelling skills, and I wanted so much more from her immediately! Since the day that I finished Zodiac, I've thought about it and its sequels. Fast forward a few months, and the sequel, Wandering Star showed up on my door. I was so happy that I didn't even care that the UPS man thought I was insane as I did my happy dance.

My Review

Warning: There may be spoilers for Zodiac in this review. Read at your own risk, if you have not yet read the first book in the Zodiac series.

Holy Helios! For those of you who have read Zodiac (and if you haven't, go get yourself a copy right flipping now!), Wandering Star picks up a few weeks after the catastrophic ending that left readers of this stellar science fiction series in shock.

Rhoma Grace, also known as Rho, is now disgraced, stripped of her Guardianship and living with her brother and a mysterious new character, Aryll, on House Capricorn. There, Rho has been researching everything she can about the Zodiac's history, while her brother and Aryll try to preserve what's left of Cancer's wildlife. But no sooner than she gets there, does Rho decide to jet off into space again with Hysan to try to save the world. And thus, another adventure through the galaxy begins!

Once again, readers are greeted by Rho's voice as she narrates everything in this action-packed space opera. Readers will love the familiar feel of her voice, and they will instantly find themselves standing right beside Rho as she embarks on another mission to save the home and the galaxy that she loves. Although Rho's point of view makes Wandering Star a quick and thrilling read, I suggest savoring her words and stories because there is a lot of Zodiac history told in this book. There is also a lot of Grace family history in Wandering Star that makes me think that book three will be full of unexpected events. You don't want to miss out on any of the important details. Trust me... there are a lot of them, and I loved every freaking galactic minute of it.

This time around, the events in the book start on Capricorn. From what I gathered through my reading, it seems like a pretty technologically-advanced planet, and I would love to ride around on their transportation system. But Rho being Rho, doesn't stay on Capricorn for long. She leaves with Aryll, and the two of them meet Deke and Nishi on House Sagittarius where they begin training for the war that every fan of this series wants to see. Rho is ready to fight, but then again, she's not ready to fight. She's is still hurting on the inside, and she's having a hard time coping with everything emotionally. She's lost family members, but the world has lost its faith in her. It's troubling, but her friends, both new and old, step up to make sure that she's prepared and supported as they get ready to take on the threat to the Zodiac.

This moment is seriously everything that I needed in the book. Yes, Rho is determined to finish what she started, but after everything that happened to her in the end of Zodiac, she's at her wit's end. It takes a little bit of convincing from these new characters for Rho to she who she really is - one of the most talented and accurate Seer's in history. I loved how these moments really put everything in action. Much of the rest of the book builds off these new characters and their faith in Rho, and it just made me squeal with happiness to see her come into her own during Wandering Star.

Now... what happened with that love triangle, right? If you read Zodiac, you know that Rho was torn between two guys. One was Mathias, a Cancer who she adored from afar for years but only really got to know during her time as Guardian. The other young man was Hysan, a Libran who she met during her Guardianship. These three traveled the world together in the first book, and Rho became more and more confused about them as she got to know them both on personal levels. Ms. Russell shocked us all when she killed Mathias in the first novel, and that really, really hurt me. I cried for days.

This time around, Rho's confused because she still has feelings for both young men, but she also feels like Mathias' death was her fault. There's a lot of survivor's guilt in this one, but you can also tell that Rho is guilty for wanting to continue to get to know Hysan while still grieving for Mathias. It's hard for her to move on, but she needs to move on, or at least harden her heart a little, in order to save the world. I won't spoil you, but I really like how Russell addressed all of this in Wandering Star. Rho's grief and confusion were real enough to make me cry even more, and I just wanted to jump into the pages and console her.

There are so many different twists and turns in Wandering Star that I felt that my head might twist off! But you know what... I loved every single one. It never felt like any of these twists and turns were forced; they just felt natural and worked with the story. There are new friends. There are new enemies. There are new problems facing the Zodiac. I laughed. I swooned. I cried. Basically everything that I wanted in this book happened, and I couldn't be more excited for book three. I seriously don't think I'll be able to wait another year to get my hands on it!

So should you pick up a copy of Wandering Star? Absolutely, especially if you read and loved Zodiac. Wandering Star is just as good, if not better than its predecessor, and readers will be dying to know just what's going on in Rho's life. Now... if you haven't yet read Zodiac, but you think these books might be for you, give them a chance. I can tell you that I'm not super into science fiction, but these are so well-developed and written that any reader will appreciate them. I would recommend both books to teenagers (14+) and to fans of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Lunar Chronicles. 

Romina Russell is a Los Angeles-based author who originally hails from Buenos
Aires, Argentina. When she's not writing novels, Romina can be found producing movie trailers for indie filmmakers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

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