Icons - Margaret Stohl
This review first appeared on One Curvy Blogger

Icons was a book that I picked up on a whim. It looked like my kind of read but I really had no idea what I was getting into until I started reading. I hardly ever pick up books based on a nice cover, and even rarely pick them up when I’ve never heard of them before but I am so happy I did because I really did enjoy this book. I’m not going to say the book wasn’t flawed, but I found myself fascinated with the world and cannot wait to learn more.

I couldn’t stop reading if I tried

If you’re a fanatic for dystopian novels like I am, you’ve probably noticed how pretty much every government in these types of novels are similar. I certainly have, and I’ve found Icons to be no different. I don’t consider this a fault, because it’s hard to make a completely different totalitarian government, when they all practically have the same motto: to create a perfect society with no opposition. They all start to blend together in some ways.

The question now is how does Icons’ Embassy stand out? It stands out because, no matter how much control the Embassy has over Earth’s remaining population, humans are no longer in control. The day the Icons fell from the sky is the day humanity lost control. The Icons control everything with an electronic pulse, including living things. The one thing they can’t control are the Icon children and Dol, our narrator, is one of them.

This, of course, made me inevitably curious, and once you have me curious there is no way to stop me from reading until I gain the answers to my questions. What do the “dots” mean? How did Dol survive The Day when everyone else in the city died? What is the purpose of the Icon children? These questions raced through my mind. Most were answered by the end of Icons but it felt like Stohl was trying to leave some unanswered for book two, Idols.

I was impressed how the intricate the world building was, and yet I had no trouble following long. There was no need for a glossary. Stohl uses figurative language like a way of life and it helped to visualize what I was reading as if I were one of the characters in the book. The only thing I really couldn’t make sense of was the romance plot. It left me scratching my head in more ways than one. But more on that later…

Oy, these were some challenging characters.

First there was Dol our narrator. Dol is an empath (aka the Weeper), she feels other people’s emotions. Dol starts off as a pretty timid character. She is content to live her life hidden in the mountains, safe but also ignorant. She really didn’t want to know what she was and how she came to be. But when that lifestyle was forcibly taken away, she breaks out of her shell and gains some courage along the way. She falls for Lucas almost instantly, but had some conflicting emotions as he is the Ambassador’s son. I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, but it didn’t irritate me nearly as much as the dreaded love triangle did. (It’s actually more like a love square in Icons.)

I’m not a daughter. Not anymore, and not to the embassy. I’m a weapon, just like Ro.

Ro was a very irritating main character because he is the least in control of his emotions and when he gets really angry, he can cause some major damage. The only person that can calm him down in such a state is Dol, whom absorbs his pain. He is “the Rager”, so it makes sense. Kind of. This makes him frustrating, but he does have a cute charming side that shows up every once in a while. He’s also weirdly in love with Dol, someone he grew up with like they were siblings. It may be short-sighted of me, but I just can’t see a quasi-sibling turning into a healthy love interest.

Lucas is the third main character and the one that had the most trouble acknowledging his purpose in life. He raised as the Ambassador’s son (head honcho of the embassy) and doesn’t see the Embassy as objectively as the others. He was not the easiest character to like, because he spent much of the book in denial and therefore makes dumb mistakes that risks the lives of the other main characters. There were times I wanted to give him a rough shake, but it’s tough not to feel sympathy for the kid.

My purpose is pain and my name is Sorrow.

Tima is my least favorite character. In the beginning, I didn’t like her much at all (and for good reason). She treats the newly arrived icon children like crap because . . . well, I’m not one hundred percent sure. I know she hates Dol because she is in love with Lucas, who pretty much grew up with her and sees her as a best friend or sibling. She does have reasons for being so antagonistic, but she tends to lay the blame at the wrong feet.

So basically, the love interests didn’t make sense for me at all, but I am hoping they out grow the unrequited love in book two. I also would like to see how Lucas and Dol’s relationship grows in Idols as well.

Lovers of young adult sci-fi, listen up!

I had some issues with character flaws and the romance plot, but I wound up enjoying myself, anyways. I would recommend this book to other dystopian and/or science fiction fans. I am not usually one for aliens, but Icons was a fun change!