Icons by Margaret Stohl is a post-apocalyptic/sci fi book.   On an event called The Day, aliens took over the Earth by sending out some kind of electromagnetic pulse that instantly caused the hearts of men, women and children to stop beating in all the major cities on the planet.  Well everyone except a few special babies in the cities referred to as the Icon Children.

Dol and Ro have grown up at a Mission outside the dead city of Los Angeles raised by the Padre who has kept them hidden.  Dol has vivid dreams of The Day despite the fact that she was only a tiny baby when it happened.  She wears the burden of sorrow as she has the ability to sense the emotions of other people around her.  Ro, her companion since childhood, is the exact opposite.  Fiery of spirit and strong, he sneaks off to visit friends in the Rebellion, only softening when it comes to Dol.

The surviving humans on the planet live a life that is a throwback to the days before technology, as the Icons the aliens placed in the major cities prevents electricity from working and thus modern technology.  No one has actually seen the Lords, as the alien invaders are known, except perhaps the Ambassador who serves as the conduit between the aliens and the remaining humans on Earth.  The Ambassador operates the Embassy out of Catalina Island assisted by Sympas, sympathizers, who have sold out their fellow human beings through the work as a paramilitary force carrying out the orders of the Ambassador and dragging Remnants to work camps to work on the mysterious ‘Projects.’

On Dol’s birthday the Padre presents her with the gift of a book about her and the other Icon children, but before she can read it, chaos breaks out at her peaceful refuge and she is taken to the Embassy by Sympas soldiers.  The people she meets there, and what she discovers about herself, will have profound consequences on her relationship with Ro, and indeed on the planet itself.

I didn’t make the connection that this first book in what will be a series was written by the same author as Beautiful Creatures until I read the author bio at the end.  My feelings about this book are mixed.  I think the concept of aliens taking over the Earth was better imagined in The 5th Wave as the concept was much more straightforward and less woo woo than the mysticism spread throughout Icons.



I made a rookie mistake.  I started reading Taken by Erin Bowman before checking to see if the next book in the series was published yet.   The reason that’s a mistake is that I really enjoyed the book and now I have to wait until next spring to continue the adventure.

Gray Weathersby has spent his whole life behind the wall.  Like all young men he is aware that upon his eighteenth birthday the Heist will occur plucking him away from the only home and friends he has ever known.  What happens to those who are Heisted is unknown, as no one has ever returned.  Those who try to avoid the Heist by climbing over the wall, return as charred bodies, killed by something monstrous on the other side of the wall.

With his own father heisted years ago, his mother dead and his older brother on the verge of his eighteenth birthday, Gray is desperate for answers, well when he is not being distracted by Emma his childhood friend that he is in love with.  Well he doesn’t actually know that what he feels is love, because in his town Claysoot, love is usually something that only happens because parents and children, to form a romantic attachment to someone who will be Heisted, or someone you will leave behind when heisted, means that no one in the society marries.  They mate, or slate to several people, as a  way to ensure that the population won’t die out.

After his older brother Blaine is Heisted, Gray finds a note from his mother that leaves him even more determined to find out what’s behind the wall. 

This book combines a love triangle, a closed society, modern technology and science and has some elements right out of an M. Night Shyamalan film.




The Uprising

Can there ever be too much action in any book, let alone a dystopian or apocalyptic one? Unfortunately, after reading The Uprising, the sequel to The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse, I would say the answer is yes.  The problem with going from action scene to action scene, or dangerous escape to another dangerous escape, is there isn’t any build up of tension.  The book just goes full throttle throughout and it’s actually uncomfortable to read in the same way someone operating at full adrenaline over an extended period of time would feel rather queasy.  It’s interesting that the cover blurb on my book says, “Choose a tribe,.  Watch your back. And don’t stop running.”  That accurately describes the sense of the book as one extended run.

The other issue is fitting so much extended action into the book causes the character development to suffer.  In the first book, The Forsaken, we got to know Alenna, an orphan who spent her formative years trying to fit into the UNA society.  Quiet and shy, we saw her make friends with the villagers, become a strong warrior and even develop first love in the midst of horrifying circumstances.  We see her navigate complicated relationships like her friendship with Gadya, the girl who used to date Alenna’s new love Liam.  She also has to negotiate between her new villager friends and David, the boy she landed on the island with, but who is not trusted by anyone except Alenna.  These characters and relationship exist in the sequel, but they play second fiddle to the action scenes and no new nuances are created.  In a sense the characters have become caricatures. 

The question of what side David is on gets hammered throughout the book and the answer becomes obvious well before a telling event.  There are other characters like Dr. Barnett, the soldiers at the Artic Base and the island’s travelers who are used as a similar plot device of “what is their intention?  Are they good or bad?”  

A huge thumbs up to the book cover art, but a big thumbs down to the pacing of the story.  Still, I liked the original premise and after investing the time to read the first two in the series, I am sure I will eventually read the next one.


Monument 14: Sky On Fire

Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne is the sequel to Monument 14.  At the end of the first story, the kids had split into two groups with Dean and his brother Alex now separated.  Alex has left with a group trying to reach Denver International Airport where they have heard rumors of people being evacuated and where they want to try to get medical attention for one of the group who has been seriously injured. 

Dean has elected to stay at the superstore because he is the dangerous Type O blood, and because Astrid (who is pregnant) is staying as well as one of the kids who is Type O too and the twins. 

Each group encounters different dangers and setbacks while trying to survive, however the more interesting story is the group trying to get to the airport who are finally able to see the world beyond their Greenway store refuge.  Outside is both better and worse than they or I was expecting.  The group encounters various characters, some with good intentions and many without, though both types for their own reasons try to split the group up.  However, the relationships developed in the first book have only deepened and after splitting into the two groups already, the kids are determined that there won’t be any more divisions at least until some unexpected reunions occur that change things for the group. 

At the end of the book there seemed to be a hint that there could be a third book, although the way the second book was written, it could simply end there.  I tried looking on the author’s website to get more information on this, but couldn’t find anything.  Does anyone know anything?   I did found out that it sounds like the first book has been optioned for a film.