Zodiac Paperback – 30 Jun 2016
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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About the Author
Sam Wilson has written, developed and directed a number of television programs and documentaries. He lives in South Africa and Zodiac is his début novel.
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A lot of it of course is the merit of this really interesting concept of a society based on different signs and the idea that you can’t treat people of different signs the same way because people of different signs behave differently. Sounds plausible right ;-)? Right, until of course there’s a whole hierarchy based upon this principle and some signs are regarded more highly than others. This novel focuses mainly on 2, 3 signs: being a Capricorn or a Taurus brings you a good status, but the lowest sign of all is Aries. They are prone to violence, they live in bad neighbourhoods, they are the most unemployed and the biggest population in prison are Aries too. But then of course they get caught most because – according to some – they are sought out, a stop and search for them is the new norm. One of them who raises his voice against the oppression of his sign is Solomon Mahout, leader of Aries Rising. On the other side there’s also the RAM Squad, a special unit set up to control the Aries population.
I read it all with a lot of interest and really didn’t think I could get lost in this world as much as I did. There is an overview about each sign before the novel kicks-off. I was apprehensive about what I would find further on in the novel because the mention of a sci-fi and fantasy culture didn’t seem like it was talking about me as a Virgo. In the novel itself I did find one reference to my own sign that sounds more like it though ;-):
Virgos […] were smart and interesting and independent, but they were often so socially blunt that talking to them was like boxing.
Anyway, onto the story itself. The first murder victim they find was working at the police force in one of the highest ranks. Detective Jerome Burton is assigned to the investigation and gets help from astrologer Lindi Childs. She’s going to see if the murderer’s profile fits based on his birth charts. Riiiight. Queue my sigh ;-). Thankfully the weight of this approach wasn’t hanging over the novel at all :-). Burton has his own personal struggles too, about his sign and about the sign his unborn child will be born into. Children will be born sooner to get the right sign but that might have consequences for its health too of course. Of course there’s also fraud with birth certificates and there’s even a school, The True Signs Academy, for children who have to learn the necessary code of behaviour to fit into their sign then. There was obviously put a lot of thought in all of this and it’s strange but I was completely loving this!
At the same time there’s a guy (capricorn) Daniel who stumbled upon a secret his father kept from him and is following his own investigation with the help of some Aries kid he ran into. Until suddenly someone Burton interviews leads them to the same place. The thing that confused me a little were these two plotlines and it took me quite a while to realise that they don’t start out at the same time.. the plotline with Daniel starts much earlier than the other one but that wasn’t made clear, it’s actually years ago in the past and it’s only towards the ending that they are both coming together gloriously in the present.
The last part of the novel held threats, danger and quite a bit of battle and action. Unfortunately, I still didn’t grasp all that well what the murders were about in the end and I found that the motive for the murders wasn’t explained thoroughly enough. Personally, I found the world-building and everything in it a little more interesting than some people’s fantastical ideas but then it might be just me, so don’t let that put you off.
There is a lot of unfairness throughout this book which, at times, made my blood boil. Some of the inequality described towards the lower signs was astounding. I couldn’t believe that there were laws that allowed the police to deal with out of control Aries whatever way they wanted without fear of repercussions. It reminded me a bit of apartheid in South Africa where I believe the police had similar powers, although I’m not sure that’s what the author intended.
The book tackles a lot of interesting theories which have led to great debates between my family and friends. Does your star sign determine your personality and would the same person turn out differently if they were given different opportunities or chances. This is something that is touched upon a lot throughout the book, especially when one character discovers he’s a lower sign then he had thought. He had grown up with a great education, childhood, lots of friends and had ended up with a great career which he wouldn’t have had his true sign been known. It made me wonder if this is true in our world.
The story is told from two points of view. The first is detective Burton, the lead detective in the murder investigation. The second is Daniel Lapton, a business man looking for his missing daughter and for a way to make the world more equal for everyone. I liked both characters and enjoyed reading both parts of the story. They both go through a huge journey throughout the book as they discover more about themselves and the unfairness of the world they live in. I found that I cared for them both and kept reading to find out what would happen next. They way their two stories comes together was very exciting and unexpected. It was one of those moments that made me sit up and read faster as I absorbed what was happening!
The murder investigation, although part of the book, isn’t always the main focus of the story. Instead the story sometimes moves other ways, which gives the reader more insight into the characters and the world they inhabit.
There is a lot of astrology mentioned in the book which was very interesting to learn more about though some parts, I’ll admit, were a little complicated for me to follow.
The ending was brilliant! So action packed that I couldn’t put it down and read long into the night. I don’t think I remember a better ending for a book, as most of the time the action tends to stop towards the end but this one was action packed right to the end. There were a few characters that I would have like to have seen get their comeuppance but that might have made the ending too perfect.
This is Sam Wilson’s debut novel and I will definitely be reading more of his books. In fact I believe there is a sequel planned set in the same world which I will look forward to! If you like action packed, dystopian novels you’ll love this book. It might also suit people who like fantasy or science fiction as the author has really created a fascinating world.
Huge thanks to Sarah Harwood and Michael St Joseph publishers for my copy of this book. I absolutely loved it and its definitely one of my top books ever!