Goodreads: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl
Series: Zita the Spacegirl #2
Zita wants nothing more than to return home, but her reputation as the girl who saved a planet from destruction has preceded her throughout the galaxy and she cannot set foot anywhere without being mobbed by fans. The discovery of a robot who can mimic her appearance seems the perfect opportunity for her to escape all the attention while the robot signs autographs in her place. But the robot enjoys being a hero and, when Zita returns, decides to take over Zita’s life for good.
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl picks up an unspecified amount of time after the events of the first book, Zita the Spacegirl, and its glossing over of the details represents the core problem of this installment–too much seems unexplained. The characters are likable, the action fast, and the message laudable, but sometimes it all seems too much. The parade of bizarre aliens and the chase scenes through distant worlds begin to overshadow the story and that is all right if one simply desires to marvel at the artwork. If one is also reading for plot, however, the experience may be a little more disappointing.
The main plot revolves around a group of aliens who wish Zita to visit their world to protect it from an imminent attack from a group of Star Hearts, since they have heard how she saved a different planet from a meteor. This is immediately confusing because the previous book ended with everyone seemingly convinced Zita’s friend Joseph was the true hero–at least, they wanted him to be king and never asked for Zita to rule them. At what point did the truth come out? We gloss right over that to carry on with Zita’s minor exploits. When the main thread is picked up once more, it only gets stranger–the aliens seem to be coercing Zita to help them, even though she already agreed to do so. And then the mess really begins.
[SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING] The message of the book seems to be that true heroism consists in sacrificing oneself for others–and that is a beautiful message! However, the message quickly becomes somewhat muddled. Zita and Robot-Zita fight over who gets to control the weapon that will fight the invading Star Hearts and Zita wins because the weapon can only be controlled by a True Hero–that is, one willing to sacrifice her life. Robot-Zita still thinks being a hero means getting to sign autographs. However, Zita is actually unaware that controlling the weapon means giving away her life and once she realizes that she is being absorbed into it (or melded with it or something), she wants out. Luckily, Robot-Zita is there to take over because now she realizes the nature of heroism and she wants to exhibit it. This is fortunate because we cannot doom our heroine in the second book of the series but we also need someone to give up their life to stop the Star Hearts and apparently no one will really miss Robot-Zita anyway. But then the question is: why could Zita control the weapon? As soon as her life is actually in danger, she asks to leave and lets someone else make the sacrifice in her stead. I can’t say I blame her–I wouldn’t want a machine to take me over, either–but it is kind of a let-down as far as endings go.
The other disappointment proves, of all things, to be the long-awaited other female character (not including Robot-Zita). She’s stereotypically exotic and mysterious and attractive and has a romantic past with the con man with whom Zita has been travelling. She ostensibly appears because she wants Zita for some reason, but if she ever revealed that reason I missed it. Basically she runs around looking cool and setting up a future reunion with her old flame. Too bad she seems to have little reason to be there other than to be a future romantic interest. Too bad her only backstory is about that same romantic interest. She seems an independent type, yet we have no idea who she is, other than “Piper’s old girlfriend”.
The Zita stories are cute and it is important to have female characters who exhibit bravery and integrity and sacrificial love. I just wish that these messages could be wrapped in a story both that pays a little more attention where its plot is going and that introduces more female characters for the little girl audience that it no doubt attracts. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.