When Stan Lee puts his name on something nowadays, it’s not so much that he worked on it directly as it is he funded, managed, or approved of it. POW! Entertainment and Chakra the Invincible come to mind, in addition to his numerous movie cameos. It was that name recognition that led me to buying The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence, a children’s novel centered around the Chinese Zodiac. I have no idea what he did in this book (though he is credited as a writer), or if he did anything at all, but it is a great book nonetheless and was quite pleased with the end result.
When Steven Lee stumbles upon a mystic ritual in the basement of a Hong Kong museum, he finds himself thrown head first into a power struggle between two groups of people endowed with the spirits of the Zodiac. This manifests itself as the Tiger in Steven’s case, giving him superhuman speed, strength, agility, and cunning. He has joined Jasmine, who is embodied by the Dragon (jointly), and her tech partner Carlos. Together, they set out to find others who’ve been impacted by the Zodiac around the world, including a punk rock Rooster and the Rabbit who is always out of reach. Together, this band of teenage misfits go up against the Vanguard, special operatives empowered by the Zodiac and led by the tyrannical Maxwell, who is in control of a much stronger portion of the Dragon power. Great fight scenes and emotional connections make this book a great addition to any young person’s library.
Much like the last book I reviewed (A Once Crowded Sky), The Zodiac Legacy features artwork intermittently, highlighting action scenes and descriptive text. Andie Tong provides half and full page artwork throughout, avoiding traditional Asian styles or Manga, but still having an Eastern influence. The color scheme is entirely black and red on white pages, which I love. The real hero is Stuart Moore though, as the main author of this book. His pacing, vocabulary, and subject matter are spot on for a chapter book aimed at kids ages 9-13. It’s a great transition into the young adult genre or even comic books, for those loving the art and superpowered characters. These kids are conflicted by troubled home life, abandonment, puppy love, and acceptance issues, which I’m sure most preteens could relate to. However, the main issue for our young heroes is the burden of responsibility each of them must cope with, whether to accept it or refuse it. Steven has major apprehensions to not only having the Zodiac power, but also to taking a field leadership role.
With flavors of Animorphs, X-Men, and Jackie Chan Adventures, this book has wide appeal for fans of all ages. The first of a series, this book leaves the reader with many questions after the two epilogues that are worth exploring further. The next book, “The Dragon’s Return”, is sure to address dangling alliances and furthering Steven’s heritage. This is one of those series that once you start, it’s hard not to continue. However, this is clearly targeting the young teen demographic, so there’s very little romance or graphic violence for those interested in that sort of thing. Either way, it’s a good, well-written book that I’d recommend to all the super kids out there, and their parents too.
Great, 4 out of 5 Stars