Author: Margaret Stohl
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)
Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered and 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, and she survived. Why? When Dol and best friend Ro are captured and taken to the Embassy, they only find 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.
Icons is intriguing, dangerous, secretive, and important. Mixed with self-discovery and self-realization is a mission to take back what was stolen. The world is, essentially, held captive, but there are those willing to rebel against these alien leaders, and there are those who possess the skills needed to save the rest of the human population.
Dol is afraid. So afraid. Not just of the Icons, or the Lords, but of herself. Of why she survived the Day when her entire family died around her. She's afraid of the reason she survived. She's different and she knows it, she can feel it. But why is she different?
And it's not just her. It's also her life-long friend Ro, the ambassador's son Lucas, and the newly-met Tima. They're all different, they're all marked, but they don't know why. Why were they brought together? Who is really pulling the strings? They're wanted for a reason, that much is clear, but what for?
When world-building is done well and the world feels believable, it makes the book that much more realistic. There is an aging of the current world, advancements in technology and the like, but there's also a de-evolving of sorts. No electricity in outlying areas, simple encampments and hideouts, lack of schools, new customs and currency and food and stories and songs and groups. There seem to be two sides, the hidden staying out of trouble side and the privileged and technologically-advanced side that serve the Icons and the Lords.
If aliens do come to Earth, what's to say that their intentions will be peaceful? These aliens came, and they killed, and they took, and now humanity has crumbled. But what was their true agenda?
Love and loss, the two go hand in hand. Dol constantly mourns the loss of her family, but she still has Ro. She has Ro whom she's cared for for years, Ro and his fiery personality and power, but she can't help but be drawn to Lucas and his innate charisma. In the end, it might very well come down to who she trusts the most, her most trusted friend or the son of the woman who does what the Lords command her to do.
Dol is pushed to make some extremely difficult decisions. Who to trust, what to believe, where to go. The biggest will be whether or not she chooses to put aside her fear of herself, of the things that make her different from everyone else, and if she'll embrace it to save herself and those she cares about. If she doesn't, they could all end up dead. A very intriguing start to a series with many questions left unanswered and more than a few possibilities opened up for the next book.
(I received an advance copy of this book to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)