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The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence Hardcover – January 27, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In legendary comic creator Lee's first prose novel, two factions, each comprised of people who harness animal power from the Chinese zodiac, fight to control the fate of the world. While visiting a museum in China, Steven Lee's life changes forever when he follows his mysterious tour guide's screams for help, leading him to a secret room where Maxwell, a power hungry war contractor, accidentally releases an ancient power into the world. Now equipped with the aggressive fighting prowess of the Tiger, Steven teams up with Jasmine, a fake tour guide who has been fighting Maxwell's group for years, to travel the world and find the other hosts. Along with a feisty singer, a brawler from Ireland, a techie, and an extremely shy girl, Steven must learn to control his powers. The first installment in a planned trilogy, Zodiac has everything readers would expect from Stan Lee: plenty of action, a fast-paced plot, a villain who is driven more by misguided ideals than pure evil, and a group of young, ordinary people trying to make sense of their newfound powers. Illustrations by Tong, known for his work on superhero comics in the UK, add to the book's appeal. A cliff-hanger ending leaves readers wanting more. Give this to superhero enthusiasts and fans of adventure stories; it will fly off the shelves.—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ
In this series opener that marks Marvel comics legend Lee's debut for kids, 12 people-some heroes, some villains-receive superpowers based on the signs of the Chinese zodiac. The heroes, of course, are the youngest characters in the book. The descriptive prose is as spare and unambiguous as an old-fashioned interactive computer game-think "Zork," from the 1970s. "[The stairway] was made of wood, with a creaky old railing beside it. The walls were worn metal, stained and weathered by time." But the book contains enough fight scenes for several issues of a Marvel comic, and they're joyously inventive. People reveal their characters by the way they fight. A tiny girl with the ability to teleport wins fights by running away, over and over again, until the other person is exhausted; she's the Rabbit. These confrontations aren't described with the clarity Lee and Moore use to talk about the settings. Readers may have to look at a few passages twice to figure out just who hit whom. Fortunately, Tong loves drawing battle scenes. Pages and pages are crammed with energetic black-and-white drawings of people bounding around the room. But the characters are so engaging that the scenes where they're joking around and telling ridiculous stories are more entertaining than the battle sequences. The prose may be too bare-bones for some readers, but the surprises are genuine, and the cliffhangers will bring people back for the next adventure. (Adventure. 8-12) Kirkus"
Gr 4-7 In legendary comic creator Lee's first prose novel, two factions, each comprised of people who harness animal power from the Chinese zodiac, fight to control the fate of the world. While visiting a museum in China, Steven Lee's life changes forever when he follows his mysterious tour guide's screams for help, leading him to a secret room where Maxwell, a power hungry war contractor, accidentally releases an ancient zodiac power into the world. Now equipped with the aggressive fighting prowess of the Tiger, Steven teams up with Jasmine, the fake tour guide who has been fighting Maxwell's group for years, to travel the world and find the other hosts. Along with a feisty singer, a brawler from Ireland, a techie, and an extremely shy girl, Steven must learn to control his powers in order to defeat Maxwell. The first installment in a planned trilogy, Zodiac has everything readers would expect from Stan Lee: plenty of action, a fast-paced plot, a villain who is driven more by misguided ideals than pure evil, and a group of young, ordinary people trying to make sense of their newfound powers. Illustrations by Tong, known for his work on superhero comics in the UK, add to the book's appeal. A cliff-hanger ending leaves readers wanting more. Give this to superhero enthusiasts and fans of adventure stories; it will fly off the shelves. Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ SLJ"
3Q 5P M After the death of his beloved grandfather, teenager Steven Lee is sent to Hong Kong by his parents who want him to become more knowledgeable about his Chinese-American heritage. Here, during an unexceptional class field trip to the New China Heritage Museum, something extraordinary happens when he breaks away from the group to investigate an unusual sound. There, in the museum's sub-basement, he witnesses the frightening transformative power created by the combination of ancient artifacts and modern technology. This discovery initiates Steven's inclusion in an international group of young people who have been recruited to stop the power-hungry Maxwell and his manic mercenaries from accomplishing world domination. Using the fascinating mythology of the Chinese zodiac as the plot device that drives the story, the authors have created a world in which the powers of twelve unique animals can be transferred to a select group of people. The characters that are destined to use the powers are extremely stereotypical; however, instead of being offensive and off-putting, this heavy-handed typecasting comes across as familiar and comical. This is understandable, as the text reads like a verbal description of a detailed visual. Basically, the narrative is a running description of the characters, setting, and action that would be found in each illustrated panel of a comic book. Action-packed and heavily illustrated, this first book in a projected series should appeal to middle school students who are fans of Stan Lee, anime, graphic novels, superheroes, and the works of Rick Riordan.-Lynne Farrell Stover. VOYA"
Lee, the famed co-creator of such Marvel superheroes as Spider-Man and the X-Men, presents his first novel. Kicking off the Zodiac Legacy series, this action-driven outing is very much what his fans might expect. Chinese-American 14-year-old Steven Lee, on an educational tour of Hong Kong, stumbles on a secret plot to control the super powers of the Chinese Zodiac, perpetrated by Maxwell, a mercenary general seeking world domination. Steven accidentally gains the power of the Tiger and is immediately drawn into an emerging group of zodiac-powered young heroes dedicated to stopping Maxwell and his band of similarly zodiac-enhanced thugs. As the two sides race around the globe to corral the remaining powers and their wielders, Lee and Moore deliver desperate chases, bombastic banter, and increasing spectacular confrontations, albeit with a tendency toward over- description ("Maxwell reached out and backhanded her across the face. His hand swept through the air, leaving a trail of Dragon fire in its wake"). This frenetic light adventure should please readers who already love the Marvel universe and nurse their own dreams of superpowered glory. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8 12. PW"
Fourteen-year-old Steven Lee considers himself an average Asian American teen, so when he stumbles upon a mystical ceremony deep in the bowels of a Hong Kong museum, he has no idea how to handle the apparent superpowers on display. And once drawn into the ceremony, Steven surprisingly discovers ancient powers-those of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac-rising in himself. Fleeing the evil Dragon Maxwell, Steven aligns himself with Jasmine and Carlos to seek out others being captured by released zodiac superpowers. He persuades them to Jasmine's side even as he questions her ability to lead. This is legendary Stan Lee's first novel (the initial title in a proposed trilogy for middle-schoolers), and he has created an intriguing new set of superhuman-both good and evil-who are empowered by the creatures in the Chinese zodiac. What the story lacks in character development will likely not be missed by readers, who are pulled along with Steven from one confrontation to the next. Enhances by Tong's punchy illustrations, this novel will be in high demand from graphic-novel readers and movie fans alike. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: What's hotter right now than comic book superheroes? The myth of Lee, a Marvel Comics icon, speaks for itself, and the promotional engine for this is already at light speed. Melissa Moore Booklist"
When fourteen-year-old American Steven Lee wanders away on a class trip through a Hong Kong museum, he uncovers a secret chamber where scientists are embed- ding the mystical powers of the Chinese Zodiac into maniacal military contractor Maxwell. Steven's unexpected arrival derails the procedure, though, and when two other intruders start a skirmish, the power of the Tiger finds its way into Steven instead. At the same time, other mystical animal energies manage to escape, and Steven is drawn into a battle to stop Maxwell from recapturing them. Now Steven and his two new compatriots are off on a worldwide adventure to discover other young people turned superhero by the Zodiac energy, to convince them to join the fight against Maxwell and his team of warriors, and to save the world. Jam-packed with action scenes and characters with imaginatively conceived powers, this addition to a growing genre of superhero novels will garner a new generation of fans for the venerable Stan Lee. The first in a planned series, the story unfolds along conventional lines-teams gathered, powers explained, battle lines drawn-but offers additional complexity as characters choose which side to join. Steven is the only real kid in the fairly large and diverse cast, and the story isn't always his; the narrative always comes back around to him, though and readers will likely appreciate seeing a teen holding his own against and alongside adults. He's also an engaging hero to root for, equal parts confused adolescent and born leader. Ultimately fun, and at times funny, this is a strong superhero-team story for readers not ready for the bleaker realities of Sanderson's Steelheart (BCCB 1/14) but who want something more complex than Disney's Big Hero 6. Final art not seen. AM BCCB"
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Star 1- A great storyline and plot. This book is introducing a brand-new concept using something we already knew existed, and turning it into a whole new world of power and, so to speak, magic. (I can almost hear Carlos saying, 'It's not magic!'). It describes troubles and struggles from our characters, exciting battles, and eventually, a uncertain victory for our Zodiac team. I personally like the idea that we have talents based off of and related to our animal counterparts. I also enjoy the small, hidden romances. For example, Roxanne and Duane, Jasmine and Carlos, and one I really hope happens, Kim and Steven. Speaking of these magnificent characters, the second star.
Star 2- Developed and lovable characters. We have our standard misfit team here- the big brute strength, the sly wit, the fierce leader, the sarcastic fighter, the nerdy brain, the computer genius, and of course, our "glue", so to speak, who keeps the whole team together. You just got to love a cliché like this. And the big bad enemy who, in the end, is defeated but left off sigh a slight cliffhanger. And then we have our traitors and backstabbers. Stan Lee and Stuart Moore did a very good job developing the characters' past lives and losses, as well as their personalities. We can't have everyone the same, can we?
Star 3- Roadblocks in the story- and solving those roadblocks. Think about it- if it was all sunshine and rainbows, would we really like it as much? No. There definitely needs to be some conflict. And there is plenty of it in this amazing book! Some examples are- when Cecile hypnotized Duane into destroying the machine, when Josie and her team nearly destroyed the Zodiac team, and countless more. If it had just gone from Steven getting his power to having every single person on their team and defeating Maxwell, that would just not work. Instead, the team figures out a way through it. So really, roadblocks are mandatory for stories.
Star 4- The text itself. Come on, you just got to love this! Now, I know it is sort of like the first star, but it many ways, it is very different. So what if you have a great plot line, amazing characters, and lots of conflict and resolution? If your wording is horrible, then no one will like your story. If you say ' Steven leapt up onto the hanging beam, feeling the Tiger energy run through him ', it's far more interesting then ' Steven jumped onto the beam. He used the Tiger energy to do that. The Tiger energy made him feel strong '. See my point? It's simply just the way things go.
Star 5- How well it all fits together. You can't have one chapter all about the characters, then another on a completely different topic! No, it needs to all fit together like a salad. The storyline is the bowl, the characters are the different vegetables, the conflict is the bad lettuce, the resolution is the good lettuce, and the text is the dressing. Then you stir it all up to make a great story. You can't have one whole section be some thing, then the other section be an entirely different thing! It needs to correspond and fit together like a puzzle. THAT'S what makes a truly good story.
Honorable Mentions- Personally, I liked when the view switched over to Josie or Maxwell, because we got to see what they felt was right and why they were doing what they were doing. And who didn't love being able to see what the characters looked like in the small comics?
Recommended Age- I'd say it's for grades 5-8, but truthfully, it relates to all ages 10+.
Credit to the authors and the illustrator. You guys did awesome!
-An impressed reader.
Of course I knew Lee's name didn't indicate that he actually wrote the book, just as I know James Paterson is a brand at this point, but I figured I'd give it a try and I liked the setup in the sample I downloaded.
Unfortunately, this book has the one fatal flaw I have with any book: the dialog and characterization is just over the top. It doesn't make sense and illogic proceeds logic all the time. Sure, it's the first book in the series, but it's littered with characters that - for the most part - all seem the same. They have unique attributes, but those attributes aren't translated into unique personalities to be explored.
I'll be the first to admit that dialog may be the hardest part of writing. Capturing a voice - tone, inflection, etc - is a challenge and it can make or break a novel. If the characters do not sound real, then it's hard to accept them as plausible.
With that said, I'm also hardly the target audience and I think there's enough action and fun in this book to keep young readers entertained, but I also know there are plenty of other books and series out there that will do the same without sacrificing the quality of writing.