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Icarus Down

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Earth’s survivors cling to life on an unforgiving, distant planet!

Three generations after the crash of the colony ship Icarus, Iapyx is barely hanging on: one of thirteen cities suspended halfway down deep chasms. The sun on the diamond lands above will kill a man in less than five minutes. The ticktock monsters in the fog forest below are a little slower — but quite a bit
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Scholastic Canada
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James Thank you for your question. There is probably symbolism here, but it's not overt. I started with three names for three characters: Simon, Isaac and R…moreThank you for your question. There is probably symbolism here, but it's not overt. I started with three names for three characters: Simon, Isaac and Rachel, and they really just popped into my head. At first, the names were flipped on Simon and Isaac, until my wife Erin told me that Isaac meant "laughing one" in Hebrew, and that fit the brother of the lead character much more than the lead character himself. So, Isaac became Simon and Simon became Isaac.

Then, as I built out the society, I needed more names, and I needed names which fit into what I'd formed with Simon, Isaac and Rachel. It's a close-knit society, so it makes sense that individuals' names would follow a sort of cultural standard. Anything that wasn't of the same model or history as Simon, Rachel and Isaac would have stood out like a sore thumb. This also applied to last names, which is why I made it a rule early on that last name had to be four letters long or less, and preferably one syllable. You quickly run out of last names when you do that, but the cultural consistency made it feel more real. :-)

There are Biblical themes within the story: the Icarus spent a long time in the wilderness before finding the promised land. There are broader themes of guilt and redemption, and the first three names I had just resonated with those themes, and the names I picked for other characters had to resonate as well.

So, in answer to your question, I didn't intend for there to be a theme in all of the character names when I started writing the book, but as I followed where things were resonating, it became clear that there could be nothing else. I hope that answers your question.(less)

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Steven R. McEvoy
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read two other books by James Bow and greatly enjoyed them, but this book takes my appreciation of his writing to a whole new level. It was interesting I was reading both this book, and The Swan Riders - Prisoners of Peace book 2 by his wife Erin Bow at the same time. I was reading the eBook of this and a printed advance copy of Swan Riders. Slowly this book started monopolizing more and more of my time until I rushed through to finish it first. It got to the point where I just could not ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-sf-fantasy
I have had the privilege of reading James Bow's writing for 25 years...and now I've read his finest work to date. "Icarus Down" is everything you expect from a skilled writer, steeped in the influences of writers like Philip Reeve & Madeline L'Engle, and shows like "Doctor Who". It's exciting, thought-provoking, churning with authentic emotions...and just when you think you have some idea where the story is heading, it plunges from the sky to the ground and up-ends the reader's expectations. It' ...more
Brayden Raymond
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After patiently waiting a very long time to read this. I almost threw it away in pain and anger part way through! James Bow you should be immensely proud of your work because very few books generate the level of emotional response in me that this novel did. I am extremely impressed and will be recommending this book to everyone I come across. Well done sir.
Tracey Schindler
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A tremendous sci-fi adventure with a steampunk twist. Incredible world-building and a riveting story with lots of unsettling moments. Using alternating characters to tell the story is very effective, Simon and Eliza each offer the reader a unique perspective. Overarching themes of genocide, truth and reconciliation, and environmentalism are present but never preachy. A very worthwhile and highly enjoyable read.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: willows-2017
Icarus Down is a fast-paced science fiction novel. Simon is a young man in a colony on a hostile planet. His city is fragile and someone is causing sabotage of key systems. When his brother dies and he is badly injured, Simon is forced to figure out which side he is on and try to find the truth.

A story to recommend to fans of the Legend and Insignia series.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
An overall fun read. I am pleasantly surprised with this book, it was captivating and held my attention. I liked the friendship between the two main characters. Although it was a slow start, it was worth it.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Satisfying. A mystery unfolds, and deeper issues are discussed. Suitable for the adventurous late primary reader.
Ena Weverink
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great science fiction novel which explores humanity's tendency to fall short of achieving justice and equity when building society. ...more
Maggie Wood
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great YA sci-fi! Full of fascinating world-building, interesting characters, and heart-stopping action! I can see why this won an Aurora Award for best YA novel!
I thought I was reading this for the world building (because it was fascinating— clockwork machinery, light as a horrifying danger, cities suspended above fog full of monsters) and then at about the halfway mark a couple plot twists charged out of hiding and absolutely flattened me. I missed my bus stop twice because I was reading as fast as my eyes could move.

There are a lot of worldbuilding things I thought were lovely ornamental flourishes, and then instead they were incredibly plausible plo
Jae Waipouri
it is a very good story that truly ties in to the story of icarus
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A captivating story that holds a mirror to our own society as it tells of survivors from a destroyed earth seeking to establish themselves on a new planet. A tale of truth and reconciliation, forgiveness and understanding, and justice for all. A thrilling read for young adults of all ages, especially those who like science fiction.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this young adult science fiction novel. The idea isn't new--humans have destroyed earth and need to find a new home--but I liked how it explored issues of justice and revenge. ...more
Tamara Moss
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced sci fi.
Kate Blair
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a gripping and humane story with a well-imagined world - cities half-way up cliffs under a burning sun, a monster-haunted fog below and secrets all around. Simon Daud loses his brother in a horrific accident that leaves him scarred and alone - and his problems have only just begun. But there's a lot more packed into this story than just the action - it also explores interesting ideas around genocide and colonialism. ...more
Nov 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The author James Bow makes the novel Icarus Down stand out because of the word choice and the art on the front page. The book was so hard to put down and must have finished the book in days while reading for more than hours at every given time. I feel like Icarus Down is made for teenagers 10-18 years old who would like to read about action, death, and friendship. James Bow created Simon Daud as a relatable younger sibling who has an older sibling that is considered as a ‘Golden Boy.’
Shannon Cole
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I think this book would be a good book for a younger audience - it’s possible that’s who the target audience was. It was an easy read - enjoyable story, but lacked depth and was predictable in nature
Alexander Rubino
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
For me, this book is boring
Luke Ranjan-Das
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Its kinda ok. But for me a book should capture my attention by the third chapter, it didn't. ...more
Law Nguyen
Sep 27, 2022 rated it really liked it
Melanie Solar
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Jeff Szpirglas
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
James Bow proves with his latest novel that he's an exceptional world-builder, and plays with big ideas (colonization, genocide). That he's able to do so in a briskly-paced and easily-read YA makes me hopeful that a wide readership will soak this thing up. ...more
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Jesse Carlson
rated it it was ok
Feb 22, 2021
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Hannah Cross
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Mar 24, 2021
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Oct 23, 2016
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Jenni Ball
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Jun 02, 2017
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I was born in downtown Toronto on April 19, 1972 and lived there until my folks moved up to Kitchener in 1991 so I could attend the University of Waterloo. I’ve lived in Kitchener ever since. I’ve been trained as an urban planner, and I’ve worked as a database manager, web designer, circulation manager, administrative assistant, layout designer and office manager. The one consistent thing about my ...more

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