Potentially good but still not quite iconic: Icons by Margaret Stohl

Sunday, June 09, 2013

by Margaret Stohl
Genre: Young Adult Sci-fi Dystopia 
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers 
Expected Publication: May 7, 2013 
Source: Copy for review
Author's website | 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.

Beautiful Creatures (co-written by Margaret Stohl) was definitely something. Unfortunately, on her first work as a solo author, things didn't quite work out.

I really do hate it when I don't like/love a book. As for the case of Icons, I already broadened my discernment on it, but it still fell short with several things. I did my part­—I wanted so badly to like it that I might have actually forced myself too much already­—but Icons didn't do its. I don't believe that there's something such as a bad piece of literature, so I prefer to put it this way: this book wasn't just for me.

To make it simple and to be honest, I was disappointed. I started this book with a very open mind, without any expectation at all. Still, it didn't manage to amuse me. I know this book has tons of potential, but sadly, it wasn't executed fairly. Yes, many alien-invasion-themed books are rapidly rising to the surface these days, but Icons still had a couple of facets that could make it stand out­—that is, again, if it was performed better. In contrary, I also thought it pulled (knowingly or not) a few elements from other dystopian books.

Upon beginning this book, the first thing that bothered me was the writing. It was dry and lacked enough character affection (very ironic, once you knew the ability of the protagonist). I also felt that it was choppy—suddenly jumping from a certain thing to another. The pacing didn't have a smooth transition. Sometimes I needed to reread a passage to confirm where I already am in the story because, honestly, it was confusing. It had depth, though. I'd give it that.

That wasn't the only thing that confused me. The characters' individual personalities also did*. One moment I admire Doloria's mentality and actions, the next I want to slap her. I think that's the reason I found it hard to connect with her. Also, for a first-person POV narration, Dol was still too reserved. It seemed like there's a wall built between the main character and the reader, making it hard for me to empathize/sympathize with Doloria. Doc, the virtual AI, was frankly better and was my favorite character.

There weren't tons of making out scenes and too-cheesy lines (thankfully), but the love interests were the problem. The best way to describe them is they're like 5-year-old kids. Their attitudes were just agonizing­—very childish and immature. Ro and Lucas were like 2 children always fighting over a small toy for no reason (just that they want to).

The world Stohl had created was supposed to be terribly horrifying, but it lacked the elements it should have. I didn't really shudder at the thought that the Lords and Icons were just there, always watching. I felt no suspense until the very last parts of the book, and even then, it was only minuscule. It was hard to lose myself between the pages of this book. I wasn't absorbed in the story until it was too late already.

One (and probably the only) thing I'm happy about Icons was the format. I love the transcripts, excerpts, letters, etc. in between each chapter. They gave hints and bits related to the whole story without really giving away something. It answered a few questions while leaving more. At least it engaged and intrigued me a little to continue on with the book. (Although I think it overdid the mystery-leaving part. Margaret Stohl seemed to know it's okay if Icons didn't necessarily do good as long as it left many questions unanswered, because it'll really make me crave for more. It's like she discovered my weakness.)

This book was really confusing that even my thoughts about it I find bewildered. I sincerely don't know if I'm recommending or not recommending this book. I still have mixed emotions about it. I also am not sure yet if I'll be picking up the next book. I just hope Stohl will improve and the next one will be a lot better than this. 
Buy the book from: Amazon US / The Book Depository UK / Kindle

*The protagonists' quatro was entertaining, at least.

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  1. So sorry to hear this didn't work out for you. I hope the second book will get any better!

  2. Thanks for the honest review! I have a copy of it because I myself was looking forward to reading it...I do hope I can read it and finish haha

  3. Totally agree with you with the choppy transitions. Not seamless and it makes for a confusing read. Thanks for visiting!

  4. EXACTLY. I just though there should be more to it.


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