11861715Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

Margaret Stohl’s first novel in The Humanity Project series titled Icons is a dystopian, sci-fi young adult novel that rivals the emotional turmoil made famous by the Twilight Saga. Doloria is the narrator of the story, and her voice provides a dramatic perspective to issues like friendship, love, and identity that many teenagers are faced with.

Many years after an unseen alien race, known only as the Lords, announced their arrival by killing every human in several major cities, Doloria and Furo find themselves growing up in a wilderness settlement far from the human embassy that acts as the governing voice of the alien race. They remember little of their childhoods, but know that they have special abilities. Doloria can read the minds of everyone around her through their emotional output, while Furo emits tremendous energy based on rage. While the two teens have no idea of the importance they play in a rebellion’s plot to take down the Lords, the human ambassadors to the alien race plan to contain them at any cost.

The plot of the story is very interesting. Dol and Ro’s unique emotional abilities provide an excellent metaphor for the emotional turmoil that most teens experience throughout adolescence. As Dol is a type of emotional conduit, she struggles with understanding her own emotions. Ro’s gift of rage, on the other hand, portrays the trouble teens may have in controlling the anger that naturally comes with growing up. As the novel develops, Dol and Ro meet two other kids with different abilities and the turmoil that arises from teenage friendships, romance, and loyalty begins to take over each dramatic sequence.

While the emotional atmosphere created through Dol’s narrative is excellent, there are some problems in the plot structure. The narrative moves quickly from major event to major event and, at times, leaves gaping questions in the reader’s mind. The Icons, which are large building-like structures emitting electro-magnetic pulses that control all electrical and chemical processes are a focal point in both the invasion at the beginning of the story and the climax, however, Stohl never clearly describes these pivotal weapons until the end of the story. The origin of Dol, Ro, and the other children’s special abilities seems incomplete.

The original concept, intricate portrayal of teenage emotion, and knowledge that this is only the first book in a series are the main factors in why I devoured this book. I hope that the many glossed over plot descriptions are the result of the series format, and that my questions will be answered in subsequent books.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.