Author: Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
First Thoughts: Engaging from beginning to end (although the pace slows down a bit in the middle). An intriguing take on a post-apocalyptic alien invasion that had me questioning what would happen if this ever really happened.
I read Icons on the coattails of The 5th Wave; unlike The 5th Wave, I had no expectations going in. I enjoyed Rick Yancey’s book, but after reading it, I thought maybe alien invasion stories were just not my thing - enjoyable but not gripping. Perhaps it was my low expectations that helped me enjoy Margaret Stohl’s story (sorry for setting the bar too high Mr. Yancey). I really did enjoy Icons.
The first 100 pages were maybe the most enthralling of the novel (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Stohl takes her reader in from the very beginning. She establishes her post-apocalyptic alien-invaded world through the eyes of a likeable heroine - Doloria. The prologue itself is going to be an instant read-aloud in class because of its descriptive power. She doesn’t have to tell you what’s going on, she shows you (like all good stories do). The pain and confusion the baby experiences is gut-wrenching, and it’s only two pages in! I mean, watching her parents die and then reliving it night after night for sixteen years - how can you not sympathize with a character like that?
I will admit, for me, there were a few things that kept the book from being fantastic. For example, the story slows down somewhere in the middle. When Dol and Ro arrive at the Embassy, we lose some of the action and tension that existed in the Grass. Stohl focuses more on building her characters, but loses some of the anticipation. By that point, I was already too sucked in to the story to really care - I powered through. The ending definitely picked up the action, but there were some unanswered questions (perhaps that’s why it’s a series). I felt like there was a serious story change within the characters (no spoilers) in the last few chapters that didn’t logically make sense to me. I actually found myself rereading the ending to see if there were some clues I missed. Again, maybe the rest of the series will explain it.
I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book was the big ideas it brought up. I am a sucker for survival stories. I like to think about and question what would happen if humanity was faced with a game-changer, something that ended life as we know it and forced us to adapt or die. I suppose an alien invasion would qualify as a game-changer. Not to give anything away, but one of my favorite moments comes at the end of the book. It has nothing to do with the main characters, it’s about the city people, the background of the story. And, it’s a scene about hope, about how humans just don’t give up. Here’s one of the passages that held so much power for me (it would also make a great mentor text for sentence structure):
“They are ragged and gasping. They are weeping and afraid. They are worried and cautious. They have been beaten like dogs and are afraid of being beaten again. They are sick. They are poor. They’ve lost their mother, their son, their brother. They huddle together on a bare mattress in a dark room behind a barred window. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to hope.
But they can feel it.”
Final Thoughts: Ultimately, this is a story about hope, not about aliens. And, for me, you just can’t go wrong with a story about hope and survival in the face of ultimate despair and destruction. It gets me everytime!
Who Should Read It? This book definitely leans towards more of the sci-fi, adventure readers out there, but I really enjoyed it and I wouldn’t claim to be either one of those. This novel will excite you from the opening pages and features a story that will carry you through to the end. If, like me, you enjoy stories of survival, then you will definitely enjoy this book.