Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: WANDERING STAR by Romina Russell

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.

Fans have been asking Romina which weapons their zodiac house would fight with, so she wanted to share all twelve different ones that she came up with! Today, we are showing you House Pisces!

#12: HOUSE PISCES, spirituality
The Piscene people are pacifists, and their Disciples don’t believe in violence. Though they carry no weapons, they go to war clad in a Gowen: a special silver suit of fluid fabric that gives its wearer a degree of protection from most elements and identifies them on the battlefield. Most Houses recognize the watery-like garment and allow its wearer to move about to collect the injured and provide spiritual guidance to the lost.

Click HERE to see Keri's review of ZODIAC, Romina Russell's first book in the series!

I was obsessed with the first book in Romina Russell’s futuristic series, Zodiac, and I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of the second, Wandering Star, for this blog. I also got the chance to meet her at the Wandering Star launch at Vromans, and she’s just as cool and sweet as I’d hoped she’d be (Thanks, Romina!). I’m SO disappointed that I have to wait A WHOLE YEAR for the third book, and TWO WHOLE YEARS for the fourth. I’m so addicted, it isn’t even funny. Romina Russell, you have done it again. Brace yourself, folks.

Wandering Star opens with Rho on House Capricorn’s planet, Tierre, helping to establish a Cancer settlement, while the Marad (a rebel army) continues to attack the Galaxy. The book focuses on Rho’s journey to believe in herself again as she prepares to fight the Marad. At times when the action wasn't as intense, the book felt kind of like a set up for what’s to come (which sometimes runs the risk of being boring). Fortunately for us, Russell is a great writer, and Wandering Star is anything but boring. 

I feel like I have to warn you guys- Wandering Star is emotional. There are so many twists and turns, heart-shattering moments and triumphs, tentative trusts and hurtful betrayals, that it’s almost overwhelming for those readers (like me) who get very invested in the characters. However, that’s a huge part of what makes the book so captivating. You never really know what’s coming next, the level of brutality is extreme and is something to be feared, and you’re never sure what (and who) you should trust. This makes it very easy to put yourself into the characters’ shoes and identify with each and every emotion they go though, putting you through the wringer as you read and making you question everything.

If you want more detailed information about the wonderful world Russell created and who Rhoma Grace is, you can find my review of Zodiac on this blog. For the rest of this particular review, I'm going to focus on my favorite aspects of the book. I could say so much about the plot, but you truly need to read it yourself to appreciate how great it is.

In Wandering Star, I got exactly what I’d been hoping for: a major character and/or plot point that incorporates my sign, Taurus. I’m so happy with Russell’s characterization of what it means to be a Taurus, and I honestly think she hit the nail on the head. Without getting too much into the context to avoid potential spoilers, the character of Vecily (a former guardian of House Taurus) was so committed to her friend that she basically gave up everything in order to try to make her friend (and others like her) accepted and treated as equal in the Zodiac. House Taurus’ current Guardian, Fernanda, shares the same view as Vecily on the subject. Both women were leaders who fought for equality on behalf of marginalized people, even though it was not a popular thing to do (side note: shout out to Russell for many, many direct references to our own world’s social climate and how we treat one another). This is so meaningful for me, as it’s something that I myself have spent a great deal of my life committed to and whole-heartedly believe in. Another Taurus characterization that I loved and related to was that community service was incorporated into children’s lives every day in order to instill in them the value and importance of helping others. In fact, it means so much to me that my chosen profession is directly related to helping others (particularly those who have limited resources). Finally, the description of people from House Taurus (working hard so that they can play even harder, committed to teamwork, articulate, polished, and an enjoyment of thrills, food, and shopping) describes myself and every other Taurus I know perfectly. WELL DONE, Romina! #HouseTaurusRules

For those who don’t want to be spoiled, skip the next two paragraphs because I’m about to talk about something that I just have to get off my chest. I love love, and that’s what I want to focus on! Reflecting more on it, and having read the second book, I have officially chosen a side in the triangle: Mathias, who I gravitated toward initially. Before anyone starts an uproar, know that my team NEVER wins (Gale and Jacob, you’re both SO much better and I love you), and I don’t think that this series will be an exception. But, there’s just something about Hysan that I’m very skeptical of. Ironically, while answering questions at the launch, Russell mentioned sometimes feeling that she does not really know Hysan because there are moments she’s surprised by him and the things he does. I have the exact same feeling about him. I have no real reason for this feeling or any evidence to support my skepticism, but it’s there. It strikes me that the author seems to feel it too, and it makes me wonder if there’s another shocking betrayal in the works…. I kind of hope so, but I doubt it.
Anyway, back to my point. While Rho’s chemistry with Hysan smacks you in the face and is very lustful and (to me) feels superficial, her chemistry with Mathias is a slow and subtle build, more real and romantic. Whirlwinds are fun and exciting, but typically leave you feeling empty. The kind of love I want is built on friendship, commonality, patience, and loyalty, and that’s what I see between Rho and Mathias. Rho herself even sees it coming, thinking of Hysan as someone who values freedom and dislikes being tied down whereas Mathias is someone who is brimming with commitment and devotion. What ultimately convinced me was their first real conversation after Mathias was rescued. He says to her, “I clung on for you… I held on so I could see you. I fought for you even after I forgot myself, and your name was the only word I remembered.” He finally became vulnerable with her in this conversation and while showing her his incredible scar. Any indication that he may not feel as strongly for her as she does for him is thrown out the window because Mathias would not betray Rho, even in the midst of unimaginable torture and mockery at the hands of savage people. In fact, she kept him going. Only an insanely powerful love and bond can do that. He also tells her that she was right about everything, that he’s proud of her, and that she restored Cancer’s reputation- things I think Rho needed him to say in order for them to move forward. Maybe it’s just me (I’m a Taurus and we love stability after all), but I hope their love wins out.

I have much more that I could say, but I’ll sum up with this: Wandering Star is a fantastic second installment in what is sure to be an epic series full of social commentary, trust, distrust, bravery, brutality, fear, love, and heartbreak. I’ll be “patiently” waiting for the next, and I think you’ll be too.

For more information about each sign, star map, horoscope, and more, click HERE to check out Romina's website for the series!!

Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Check out the other blogs who will be sharing the weapons as well!

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