My first book review on here. I do most of my reviews on Goodreads, but I don’t like posting spoilers on there, so I never get into too much detail. But, I’m going to change that for my blog and there will be spoilers. The main reason for that is because half the time I forget what happened in the book by the time the next book comes out and it’s a pain to try and find a spoiler-filled review to refresh my memory. So, just a warning!
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this novel at first, but it sounded like something right up my alley and my fave, Stan Lee, was on the list of contributors to the novel. The basic premise is:
When twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-America teenager named Steven will be thrown into the middle of an epic global chase. He’ll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac.
I will come right out and say that this book is decent, but not the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. I actually started it, stopped, read two fluffy YA books, and then went back to this one. It’s written more for middle school/early high school aged readers and the writers spend a bit more time writing out fight scenes than actually moving the story along. It is also interesting to point out that there are illustrations in this novel as well. Andie Tong illustrates key scenes from various scenes throughout the book and it’s kind of fun to have something to break up the story and give you help in visualizing the characters. I’m rating this book a 3/5 because once I got into the story the pace moved along, but I’m really not sure I’m going to bother with any of the others.
Now we’ll move onto the plot and this is when the spoilers come in. Fourteen year old Steven Lee doesn’t feel like he belongs at home and this follows him on his trip to Hong Kong. While on tour at a local museum he decides to follow the mysterious screams he hears and discovers their tour guide doing the same thing. They both end up in this weird underground chamber where the big bad guy, Maxwell, has decided to run a strange science experiment. He’s taking the power of the Chinese Zodiac and transferring it to himself despite not being born to the particular signs. He’s a dragon and that really should surprise no one since he’s the villain and he’s going to be a dominate power. The only twist to this is that Jasmine, the former fake tour guide, is also a dragon. (Spoiler: I’m about 95% sure that Jasmine is actually Maxwell’s daughter, but this point is never solved in the novel, but they keep alluding to something you wouldn’t expect between the two of them). Obviously the good guys can’t let this happen so Jasmine goes in to fight and Steven gets caught in the cross hairs and ends up channeling the power of the Tiger.
Bada bing, bada boom, there’s a big fight over power and such, but Maxwell’s operation goes under and Jasmine, Steven, and resident IT nerd Carlos (double-agent here) run off. Steven decides to help out the two of them with their plan to take down Maxwell because he feels that he needs purpose in his life (where was my purpose when I was fourteen?). That involves tracking down the other Zodiac powered people around the world that Maxwell didn’t manage to consume. So off they go on adventure to find Ram (Irish boy named Liam), Rooster (French girl named Roxanne), Pig (South African boy named Duane), and Rabbit (American girl named Kim). They all reluctantly decided to come along because they really want to be trained in their powers and help fight the good fight.
Once they all come together they fly back to Greenland where the good guy home base is. The only downside is that Maxwell managed to put the other Zodiac powers into his Vanguard agents (Horse, Rat, Snake, Ox, Monkey, and Dog) and he is constantly sending them after our ragtag band of good guys. There’s a showdown in Greenland and then there’s another show down in Hong Kong where Maxwell was based for the time being. I will admit that despite being annoyed by how long these scenes tend to get they are at least well written. Neither side gets to win outright and they both have their good and bad instances, but obviously the good guys are going to win in the end.
The final showdown has Steven really stepping up his game in a fight and Jasmine manages to take Maxwell’s powers into her own. The group obviously comes together and they all become a warm happy group of friends aptly named ZODIAC. The book ends with the group going to hang out in Hong Kong together so Steven can explore his heritage a bit more. It also ends with two epilogues and one scene is Rat communicating with a woman who has a screensaver of a young Steven on her phone. Sounds like she arranged for Rat to double-cross and help Steven out in the end. Should be interesting to see where they are trying to go for the next book because obviously Maxwell is not down for the count. A couple of his Zodiac powered team members turned traitor and the others seem wary on helping him any longer. I’m at least going to read the synopsis for the next one and see how it sounds before picking up.
Thanks for reading!