Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

May 21, 2013 ARC Challenge, Book Reviews 4 ★★★

Review: Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl
Published by Harper Collins UK, Harper Voyager on May 9th 2013
Pages: 368
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside  -  safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It′s a conspiracy.

Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions - which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses - may actually be their greatest strengths.

Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts - in order to save the future.

Icons fell into the same category for me as Beautiful Creatures.

“Difficult to pick up but hard to put down”

While a compelling read, it was a slog to get through. I hate to say that because overall it had many strengths but the undeniable fact is that more than once I felt like I was pushing the backside of a woolly mammoth through a tar pit and going *nowhere*. There have been plenty of books about vampires, angels, and androids in YA fiction over the years and 2013 is the year of the Aliens.

Icons is the story of Dol, a young girl living in the Californian countryside, away from the watchful eye of the Sympa troops who enforce the rule of the Lords, aliens who arrived on “The Day”, when Icons were dropped onto thirteen major cities around the world, killing millions and enslaving the rest, emitting an immense power charge that ensures no human can get close enough to destroy it and take back control of their planet. No human except Dol and her friends…

The most interesting aspect of Icons for me was the four Icon children themselves, Dol, Ro, Tima and Lucas who are all brought together seemingly by coincidence until they discover there is something insidious lurking underneath their connection. Each of the Icon children have a special power, Dol can sense emotion and connect with a person’s memories, Ro has uncontrollable rage which at times is difficult to consider a power but it does come in useful when it needs to be incited in others to get things done. Lucas is the Tom Cruise of the group with bucket loads of charisma and can charm others into doing what he wants. Tima is capable of turning a person’s fears against them and weeding out their weak spot.

Frustratingly we don’t get much background into their origins, we know they are “special” but it isn’t made clear how or why they came to be. At times Icons felt like one long intro to the series and not a self-contained book. There were hints to the history of the Lords and the Icon’s power through documents and reports printed throughout the book but more often than not these led to more confusion and I found myself wishing for one big info-dump.

Stohl is trying to do something fresh and original with this series and I applaud her effort but I do think that the pacing issues let the book down big time. The fact that we are dropped straight into the story and then the pace dropped off so significantly meant the lack of info was all the more noticeable and irritating. The final third was when the action really picked up and it proved to be the books saving grace but by then I was more than happy to just be close to the finish line which was disappointing.

There is the inevitable love triangle but happily it doesn’t overpower the story. I felt Dol had chemistry with both Lucas and Ro and there were sweet moments and an interesting set-up for book two that I hope Stohl will elaborate on more.
There’s a fresh use of AI in this book which at times felt a little too convenient and easy to use to wrap things up but there was a fun twist that I didn’t see coming that I enjoyed.

From my review it seems like there were a lot more negatives to this book than positives but overall I thought the concept was unique and that the storyline does have legs. There were simply too many coincidental moments and I would prefer the back-story to be a bit more solid. The action when it occurred in the final third was exciting and ensured I will be looking out for the next instalment.



4 Responses to “Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl”

  1. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    I was wondering how this book would fare on its own (with Stohl writing by herself, I mean). Seems like it was kinda disappointing, but has potential? I still want to read this one, but maybe I won’t push it to the top of my list.

    • Danielle

      It definitely has potential. I have high hopes for the sequel but it seriously drags at times. For every page I could have read 2 pages of another book.

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