A sci-fi refreshing for both its nondystopian plot and fallible heroine.
In the complex Zodiac solar system there are 12 Houses: Each exists on planets within a constellation from the Western zodiac. Those born into a House share certain physical attributes and embody that House’s qualities. When a tragedy kills the Guardian of Cancer, 16-year-old Rhoma Grace becomes the next Guardian. Through her advanced star-reading abilities, Rho discovers that an ancient evil—the stuff of children’s tales—has returned. Scorned, the determined Rho journeys to warn the Houses she foresees are next to be imperiled. Accompanying her are two love interests: Mathias, the 22-year-old Cancrian she’s loved for the past five years, and Hysan, the charming, teenage Libran diplomat. This satisfying love triangle is resolved with frustrating convenience by the final pages, but Rho’s likable fallibility atones for this, at least in part. Though the narrative mentions “Risers”—people “born into the wrong house”—and Rho wants to be a citizen of the galaxy, the fact that the majority of people conform to the traits of their Houses pushes credulity.
Readers may forgive quibbles both major and minor for a story that touches on such complicated themes of identity, love, sex, class and politics. (Science fiction. 14 & up)