Thursday, 20 June 2013

Icons by Margaret Stohl

Icons (2013)
Margaret Stohl
Grade: B+
Genre: YA / dystopian
Source: NetGalley
Icons: (1) Icons

Nothing was the same after The Day. The Day when the Lords came, causing 13 Icons to fall from the sky, generating a powerful electromagnetic field that halted all electrical activity within a certain radius. The Day when 13 of the world's biggest cities became silent, dependent only upon the electricity generated by the Icons that the Lords permitted them to use. The Day that 1 billion lives came to an end.

Doloria Maria de la Cruz is an Icon Child, marked out as different by the tiny grey dot on her wrist, just “one small circle the color of the sea in the rain … [her] destiny.” Her parents and brothers died on The Day when she was just a baby, and she and her best friend Ro have been brought up together by Padre in the Grasslands, areas outside the cities, untouched by the power of the Icons and the control of the Lords and the Embassies. On the day of her seventeenth birthday, everything changes.

There are people who know what Dol and Ro are – better than they know themselves. Dol is the ‘Weeper’, a powerful empath who can hear every thought or word said around her. Ro’s two red dots indicate he is the ‘Rager’, using fury to channel his incredible physical strength. The Embassy wants such powerful weapons on their side, but the Rebellion know that the powers of the Icon Children can be used as an antidote to the Icons, and are keen to use them for their own ends and restore control to the people.

Captured by the Los Angeles Embassy, Dol and Ro are taken to Headquarters where they meet two who are just like them – but not on the same side. Tima is the ‘Freak,’ relying on fear and anxiety for her powers to be triggered. Lucas is the ‘Lover,’ a person with intense charisma who can make others follow him against their will. Lucas is also the only son of Leta Amare, Ambassador for Los Angeles and as the four Icon Children begin to discover the extent of their powers and their purpose, there comes a time when Lucas must choose which side he is on …

This was a difficult book to read. My summary only tells part of the story and there’s a lot to take in. It’s one of those books where the back story and everything else of importance is revealed slowly (excruciatingly so) which means that it takes forever to piece together the entire story and actually discover what’s going on. I usually don’t mind, but when it’s as complex as this, withholding information made me feel like I was forever a chapter behind. A glossary and timeline at the beginning of the book would have been useful and although it wouldn’t have made for such exciting reading, I think it would have allowed me to read faster and more enjoyably.

I do like the concept. There’s so much YA dystopian fiction at the moment and I admit to shying away from it all, partly because of its prominence. I’m not the type of person to read a series or genre because it’s currently popular – in fact, the complete opposite. But I saw this on NetGalley and liked the sound of it for some reason, and so requested it. It was a good choice – I need to broaden my horizons reading-wise and there was a time when all I read was YA, and so it was good to be back.

This was good writing. Ms Stohl is the co-author of Beautiful Creatures, the book made into a feature film that has been heralded as the next Twilight, and so I knew it would be good. Inbetween each chapter was some form of official report from the Embassy which gave us a little snippet of history and filled in a bit of the puzzle that is this new world. It helped break up the text and was effective, but came with the danger of meaning that I would forget the mainstream story really quickly. Then again, that’s probably more of a comment on my short attention span than on the story itself.

I’m intrigued as to where Ms Stohl will take the characters next. I have an idea of the general plot of the next book(s) and the group’s mission, but what remains unclear is what challenges they will be facing. As Icons was only published in May, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it will be a while before book 2. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to it.

The love triangle pissed me off. It was typical for such a YA dystopian novel, but boy did I get annoyed. Yes, you can’t choose love and love, when unrequited, is even more heart-crushing, but a girl who has two guys hanging onto her every word is just greedy. It might make for a juicy novel, but it’s just mean.

Once I got my head around this, it was great. I did have to speed-read for the majority of it so that it wouldn’t expire on me, as well as start from the beginning several times, but after a while, it managed to penetrate through enough for me to understand. It was good writing and ultimately an enjoyable read. It’s not everyone’s genre and it’s not always mine, but this was definitely worth the time.

Image courtesy of Book Depository

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