I was told a few weeks ago that whenever I review a middle grade novel I talk about how surprised I am by it. So I am going to switch it up in this one and say that The 13th Sign was a refreshing read. Something about the innocence of the characters and the genres ability to get me to go along with whatever fantastical plot the author throws at me, gets me everytime. This one reminded me a lot of Jumanji, the releasing of ancient magic and the race to put it back in its place.On her thirteenth birthday Jalen and her friend Ellie head out to fulfill her tradition of going to the local voodoo shop and having her horoscope read to her. Upon searching the shelves she comes across a mysterious locked book called The Keypers of the Zodiack, upon trying to purchase the book she is told that she isn’t ready for it and immediately shutdown by the shopkeeper. So naturally this sparks the girls' interest and they take the book and run (but it’s not really stealing because they leave money behind! Haha) I’m sure you can kind of piece together where the story goes from here; the girls open the mysterious book and release the 13th sign into the universe which leads to personality shifts in everyone and also the other 12 signs on a hunt for Jalen and to put the sign (and it’s hidden power) back.The story is very much a race against time. I loved how fast paced it was and the challenges that Jalen had to overcome when she met each sign were definitely interesting. I will say though that while the challenges in the beginning felt epic and really tested Jalen’s strength, the ones at the end felt rushed and rather lazy. At first she has to test her strength and wits and really push herself to the limits and some of the very last ones were as simple as kicking over a pot. I really wish the caliber of the first challenges was maintained throughout. Even though it wasn’t, it still made for an engrossing read and I was sucked into a plot that didn’t let up at all.As for the characters here, it’s really difficult to talk about how I connected with them. After the switch they weren’t even sure who they were anymore so neither was I. I will say that while Jalen started out feeling like a timid girl who always stayed in her place, I loved that she would just blurt out snarky things after the change and be left wondering where it came from. Her best friend Ellie was also a winner for me she was hilarious! I liked the girls banter and could feel that their friendship was deep rooted. Of course, being a middle grade novel, there isn’t too much romance to be had here, which is one of my favorite things about the genre. Sure there are a few crushes here and there but the main focus is definitely on the plot. Brennan, Ellie’s older brother and Jalen’s crush, started out as someone that I really didn’t like. He was rude to the girls and just all around pushy but once the switch occurred he was a caring guy who was looking out for the girls best interest at every moment. This created a neat dynamic because Jalen remembered him for who he was, and he had no idea so he didn’t understand why she was so indifferent to him. Along that line though I was left to wonder why he didn’t remember anything about himself from before the switch but at the end of the novel was able to know exactly where to go because of a boy scout trip he had been on when he was younger. Maybe an explanation was needed to say that they didn’t remember how they acted but they still had memories of things they had done.While I did take issue with a few elements in The 13th Sign it was still a novel I enjoyed a lot and was able to devour in a single sitting. It’s a fast paced story that is rich in astrological history and even some Greek mythology sprinkled in for good measure.