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Book Review

Book Cover



Author: Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £7.99, US $9.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 752083 1
Publication Date: 09 May 2013

The day the Icons came the power failed, the cities fell onto silence as their populations died. For Dol this was the day which haunts her, the day her parents died and she did not. That day was seventeen years ago, seventeen years that the invaders, known as the Lords, have ruled the planet. Dol lives in the rural Grasslands, far from the nearest Icon, with her friend Ro, until one day the military arrive kill the only family she has known and take her to the city, a journey which will end in her confronting the Icon...

Icons is a young adult, science fantasy novel by Margaret Stohl, who co-wrote Beautiful Creatures.

Oddly, for all of its four hundred and twenty-nine pages Icons is a very quick read, most of the text consists of either speech or Dol’s thoughts. Dol realises from the beginning of the book that somehow her and Ro are different and not just because of the marks on their wrists. Ro is a fighter, full of anger, keen to fight back against the Icons which are holding the world in thrall. Dol can sense what others are feeling and reach into their memories.

Not much is revealed in the book about the alien invaders; in fact we never see or interact with any of them, except for one of the thirteen metallic Icons, which have the power to stop all chemical and electrical reactions in their area of influence. The affected cities are now ruled by human ambassadors and their armies of Sympas, humans sympathetic to the new regime.

The book is based on the first section of the classic monomyth structure, so you already know the stages through which the story will pass including discovery of specialness, denial of same, meeting with a wise person, acceptance of destiny and finally the belly of the beast, as the author has only gone so far with the structure that the rest of it will be used in further novels. The chapters are interspersed with documents and other data which slowly reveal secondary parts of the plot, a nice device and it works well within the confines of the novel.

The pace is slow, very slow. There are times of action, but even these do little to pick up the pace. This is not an action adventure; rather it discusses and explores the power of emotions, the group’s main weapon against the Icons. There is a rather unsatisfying love quadrangle which really goes nowhere and does not develop in a meaningful way, although it is a useful device to create tension between the four teenagers gifted with powers.

The world building is scant, at best with minimal description of the environment; the characters also do not appreciably develop through the novel.

It’s not really a science fiction novel as there is nothing really here which technologically affects the protagonists. That said it is well written and an easy read and as part of a series it may be that the book only stands as an introduction to this new world.


Charles Packer

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