Sunday, November 6, 2016

The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Ever feel like your zodiac sign just doesn't seem to match with your real personality? Maybe that's because you have the wrong one. The 13th sign is a clever dive into just what the world might be like if an extra sign was thrown into the mix and how it would affect everyone. Granted it is a seriously exaggerated take on such a thing but, still, it's interesting nevertheless. Let's take a look, shall we?

The story is of a young girl New Orleans named Jalen Jones who is dealing with the stresses of her Nina (grandmother) being very sick. When she discovers a mysterious book entitled The Keypers of the Zodiack (their spelling, not mine) she accidentally unlocks the 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus the healer. All of a sudden, everybody's personalities have changed. People are picking up habits they didn't have before, things they could do before are now impossible, and they possess phobias for things that never used to bother them. On top of all this, the twelve zodiac signs have come to earth and are now trying to attack Jalen for disrupting the order. Jalen must now defeat the zodiac signs and return them to the heavens before the personality shift becomes permanent.

Like I said, this concept is pretty interesting and done very creatively. While being a very simple, quest-like story, each challenge is unique and clever. While some of the signs just try to attack Jalen, most of them come in the forms of tricks and puzzles. For instance, Gemini the twin makes a carbon copy of Jalen's best friend and she has to figure out which is her real friend and which is Gemini. Little touches like that keep the story interesting and the challenges are spaced out carefully so the story doesn't feel too rushed, even if the whole adventure takes place in the space of a single day.

I was worried, at first, if this would be a bumpy ride when it came to the characters. Jalen, at first, is very whiny and a bit self-centered. Thankfully, after the personality shift, she becomes much more driven and determined and someone I'm a little more willing to follow into this story. The whining doesn't always go away though, but then again she is dwelling on the fact that her grandmother is on death's door and dealing with her father's disappearance, so I can't really fault her for that. Her friends, a brother and sister pair named Brennan and Ellie, also become better after the personality swap and become useful characters who are nice to have around.

There are times when the story practically comes to a full stop while the characters read from The Keypers of the Zodiack in order to figure out how to defeat each sign. These pauses can come in the middle of tense situations and can kind of take away from the moment and be a bit distracting. There are also some villain-type characters that kind of come out of nowhere and don't really contribute anything except getting in the way and frankly I think the story could do without them. While the ending comes with a satisfying and honestly refreshing turn of events, it does kind of hang open, as if there's a possibility for a sequel. I kind of wish they hadn't done that as it's just fine as a stand-alone and doesn't need to carry the story any further. That and a few inconsistencies with the mythology behind the zodiac kind of annoyed me, but the story didn't focus on them so I didn't either.

Final Verdict
The 13th sign is a good, straightforward, quest story based on a clever idea. I enjoyed it pretty well, despite a few minor flaws, but I think anyone can pick this up and enjoy it just fine. If it sounds up your alley, then I'd say that this is worth your money at your local bookstore.

Next time: This kid's What I did on my summer vacation essay is going to be pretty epic....

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