Jon's Reviews > Icons

Icons by Margaret Stohl
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really liked it

Icons is original. Complicated. Emotional. Powerful. And sometimes difficult.

And entirely worth the read.

Here's the hook for me - it's not the alien invasion, although that's pretty well done, in a fresh way. It's not the love triangles or squares or whatever. Icons is great because of Stohl's portrayal of four real kids who have real, messy, confusing feelings that are more powerful than they know how to deal with.

Sound familiar? That's because it describes every young person on the planet. And most adults.

Is Icons slow-paced at times? Yes. Is it sometimes confusing? Yes. Is it a a good story, in an original setting, with lots of twists, and characters I cared about? Yes! But more than that, Icons is an exploration of emotions that seem too big to contain - sadness, fear, rage - this book plumbs the depth of real, true, sometimes ugly feelings - and here's the best part. Icons turns these complex feelings into strengths rather than weaknesses.

Kids - well, adults too - often feel like if they are sad, something's wrong. If they lose their temper, they are bad. If they are afraid of people, they are broken. Emotions are to be shut down, or feared.

Icons is a beautiful story that shows how feelings can heal. How they can change the world. How feelings - even 'bad' feelings like fear and rage - can be instruments of mass salvation.

I gave Icons four stars because, to me, it's rough around the edges. Having said that, Icons is at the same time so raw and real that in a way, the flaws become part of the overall strength and the appeal of the book.

Now, on more technical notes, as a HUGE science fiction fan, I was concerned about reading a supposedly YA book. I read Hunger Games and immediately recognized it as a watered down rip-off of Battle Royale, the Japanese original book (great and also raw). I read Harry Potter and it was fun, but I was appalled that this could be put on the same shelf as Tolkien. So I'm kind of particular about originality.

Icons, to me, is the most original take on the well-worn alien invasion trope I've seen in a long time. It's not dumbed down - which could be a problem for some, but I appreciated it. The ability of a race to completely stop your heart? That's terrifying.

Be aware, the sci-fi aspects are a little complicated to get your mind around, but that's because THEY ARE ORIGINAL! And that's a good thing!

I don't want another book where the aliens are called "others" and they use an EMP blast from outer space, and where they simply take over human bodies as hosts (I'm looking at you, Yancey and Meyer).

Icons tries harder to do something new, and I appreciated that.

Overall, I would recommend Icons to fans of science fiction, and try to slip it into my teenage friends' hands, in hopes that they can find strength in their big feels, and turn the sometimes scary emotions into something positive, powerful and life-changing.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 7, 2013 – Shelved
May 7, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
May 7, 2013 – Finished Reading

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