Icons by Margaret Stohl

Brilliant plot dulled by sub-par writing

by Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown | Hardcover, 428 pages
In the far distant future, aliens invaded Earth. The invasion wasn’t violent. All they did was stop nearly everyone’s hearts from beating, killing them instantly from where they stood. Almost majority of the population perished save from a few thousands (?).  Humanity’s dependence on electricity and technology was their downfall. Icons – towers fell in major cities of the world. They stood like the all-seeing eye of Sauron. Watching everyone, waiting for flickers and sparks of electricity so they could shut it down again. Life as they knew it, ended on The Day. The Icons were virtually indestructible. Come close to within its sight and it stops your source of power.  Humans die on the spot, ammunitions rendered useless. 
Four children, born with extraordinary powers will have a chance to end the occupation. Love, Sorrow, Rage and Freak – born on the same day, created to defeat a seemingly indomitable foe. 
Margaret Stohl, the other half of the Beautiful Creatures series writing duo, set out to write a book about an alien invasion. Aside from the fact that the Icons came somewhere from space, this book, much like Yancey’s The 5th Wave, didn’t really have physical alien life forms wreaking havoc in its pages. When I started reading this book, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do any comparison. It turns out, I didn’t have to make that promise. There really was no comparison. You can take that as you will. 
This book was such a disappointment. Sparks of brilliance snuffed by pallid writing. Prose that didn’t make sense, prose that left me flustered. Being inside Doloria’s head was painful. She dragged the story line down until I couldn’t stand to read her thoughts. She tried hard to be deep and poetic but only succeeded in inflicting more pain.

Stohl had the barebones but failed to flesh out her characters and story. There were points of interest that could’ve saved this novel. I really didn’t get how the emotional focus could destroy a machine. Really? A mechanical structure powered by a computer? I don’t get it. Why reiterate the emotional bomb when the enemy doesn’t even feel at all?  If it was a fact, that the Icons can kill those with a heartbeat aside from the four teens, then how did the rest of the population survived? How did the teens get their powers? There were so many holes it looked like swiss cheese.

The pitfalls of co-writing a book and then going solo is that your readers will finally know exactly what you’re made of. I’m oddly looking forward to reading Kami Garcia’s solo offering just to see where all the brilliance of Beautiful Creatures came from.

My rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

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