Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Neon Graveyard – farewell to the Zodiac Series

               Joanna Archer, who used to be a mere mortal stalking the images of her past and then discovered she was a real superhero, is only a mortal again. Now only able to go through life as a mortal with only the human strength and the supernatural ability to use any conduit –Shadow or Lights, her own or someone else’s, Joanna must continuously face her shadow enemies as well as her once- troop-now-turned-enemies agents of light.  She does this while delicately avoiding leading the Gray troop and traversing back to Midheaven in an attempt to save more rogue agents as well as the man she loves. With the growing secret inside of her, Archer knows that time is not on her side and if she doesn’t free the agents soon it may be too late. It seems that everywhere Joanna turns she has to fight, and each fight is to the death.
This is the sixth and final installment of the Pettersson’s Zodiac Series, and I have to say that I am not really ready to say good-bye to this cast of characters. In what I have come to think of as “the Pettersson Way”, she tells a complete story in the first chapter that reminds you of what has already happened as well as daring you to try to figure out what is about to happen. It’s a style the pulls you in-almost unwillingly as you try to decide for yourself if you like the things that Joanna has discovered about herself.  There is nothing better than a good fight with an obvious villain and hero(ine). What make Joanna so astutely likable is the fact that she is at moments all of us and none of us. She has run from who she is as well as embraces her identity. She has made hard decisions in such a cold calculating way that we don’t instantly like her for it.  But we don’t hate her either. If anything I found that I was mostly undecided about Joanna. I was compelled to examine the question what would I do if I was in Joanna’s shoes? We all have issues with our parents, sometimes they’re minor and other times they’re minor. But this series takes family issues to a whole new level.
Knowing that this is the last in the series, I find myself torn. A part of me wants to make sure that everything is resolved and all of the strings are tied before the end of the book. The other part wants a door to be left open so there is a chance that we will hear more of Joanna Archer sometime down the road.  I have been with Joanna since the beginning and I know the stuff that she has gone through, I have seen her grow and develop as a person (okay fine, I will admit it- she is not real and she is only a character. But I was there and she seems a little real to me. I can forgive Joanna’s flaws easily, because more than being a mixture of both shadow and light, Joanna is human in the best way possible. (This is funny because Joanna is doing her best to learn to be simply human in this story.) In The Neon Graveyard, Joanna has been stripped of all of the identities that she has had to take on and is given space and time to become the person that she wants to be. She is free to design her own fate.
After each new challenge/obstacle a layer is removed and the real Joanna Archer comes forward; the one that is free from a physical shell that isn’t truly her own and from the cage of expectations. I stopped liking Warren a book and half ago, maybe even before that, but now he proves that he really isn’t better than the Tulpa; no longer a good guy seeking balance but a man with his own agenda. Action and drama keeps you turning the page, as well as Joanna’s unwavering determination to free Hunter. Though I thought the buildup would mostly be between Joanna and the Tulpa, I am not disappointed with the way things ended. The first five books deal with her overcoming her past and her attempts to be the person that everyone expects her to be. The Neon Graveyard is more about Joanna becoming the person that she wants to be and doing what she thinks is right simply because it is not for anyone’s benefit. The series left off in a great –of not perfect-place, the opportunity and attempt to live a life of normalcy.
                The Zodiac series has been something that I have enjoyed tremendously and would definitely recommend to others. This was a well-written series, with strong characters that calls you back again and again. If you want to know more about the series or the author, or if you want to learn about the new Celestial Blues series check out Pettersson’s website or you can find her on Facebook. You can also discover the anthologies that she is a part of.
The Entire Series:

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