Review + GIVEAWAY: The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (@ktubb @MacKidsBooks)

Received a complimentary copy from the author as part of her blog tour.

I met Kristin at a blogger/author dinner a couple months back, as she is yet another Nashville author (I know that one day I will probably tire of saying “WHO KNEW SO MANY AWESOME AUTHORS LIVED IN NASHVILLE?” but today is not that day). I hadn’t read any of her books yet, as I don’t read a lot of middle grade, but Kristin was so much fun that I decided to make an exception for her first fantasy, The 13th Sign. I went to her launch party on Friday, and judging by the fabulous turnout, I’m not alone in thinking this book was a lot of fun.

The Plot (from Goodreads)

What if there was a 13th zodiac sign?

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign.

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s.

What about the rest of the world?

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs?

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it.

My Thoughts

Okay, I feel like this book needs a few things going into it. You either need to really believe in astrology — like, a whole lot — or, if you don’t believe in it, you have to be completely willing to thoroughly suspend your disbelief. I fall into the latter category. But how many fantasy worlds do we really believe are actually real? Um, if you’re like me, none of them. So I was totally willing to jump into the fantasy world of this book, where personalities really are determined by your Zodiac sign, even though I personally don’t buy into it in the real world.

You also need to remember it’s a middle grade, not YA. And as such, it reads like a book for 13-year-olds, not 18-year olds. And that’s what it’s supposed to do. I’ve read some reviews that seemed to want it to skew older, and that’s just not its purpose. It’s the whole “don’t judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree” thing.

Disclaimers aside, I thought this book was a lot of fun. I honestly have never paid much attention to the Zodiac — I couldn’t even tell you any of the defining personality traits of my sign (Virgo) — but as each of the signs manifested and challenged Jalen, I found their different personalities really interesting. I also loved the New Orleans setting (because who doesn’t love a New Orleans setting?) and the non-stop action.

I did think some of the challenges Jalen faced were a bit too easy, and the solutions a tad bit contrived, but again, had to remind myself that given the intended audience, they were fitting. And I liked the “altered” version of some of the characters’ personalities better than the original versions. Which…that could be a pro or a con, depending on your perspective. I enjoyed the creativity, the little puzzles Jalen had to solve, and just the overall charm of the book. There was just something fun and refreshing about it.

By far, my favorite thing about this book was the break-neck pace. It honestly had no good stopping point, which is why I read the whole thing in a day. When Kristin saw I had finished it the day after receiving it in the mail, she said, “Wow, you’re a fast reader!” My response: “Well, you didn’t give me a good place to take a break!” The characters literally spend the entire book running and fighting. It’s crazy.

If you want a fun and original fast-paced middle grade fantasy, this could be the book for you.

And now for the giveaway! As I have a shiny finished copy, I no longer need my *SIGNED* ARC. So I’m giving it away to a lucky reader! Enjoy it yourself, or give it to the young reader in your life. Giveaway ends 1/28/13. U.S. only. Must be 13 or older to enter.

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