Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Icons Book Poster Image
Confusing tale of aliens and government conspiracies.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This novel is written to entertain, not educate. But each chapter ends with "classified" medical and research documents, which add intrigue.

Positive Messages

Messages about the importance of friendship, family, trust, and honesty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dol is a strong heroine with a likable personality and narrative voice. She stands up for others and doesn't let anyone bully her.


There's not much violence, apart from some hand-to hand combat and people apparently being stunned to death by aliens, but there's no gore. One character is injured, a secondary character and minor characters are killed. 


Mild flirting.


Items from the "past" are mentioned, such as Panasonic and things called memory cells (think iPod), but most technology and electronic gadgets are described and are not given brand names.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Icons is the first book in a dystopian series from Margaret Stohl, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series. It features a strong-willed heroine and a unique world, but the four main characters constantly bicker, which becomes annoying. There's hand-to-hand combat, some  characters are killed, and there's a love triangle with mild flirting.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written by321Alexis123 July 24, 2018

Dumb and Confusing

I really tried to like this book, but I’ve tried twice now and just can’t. It’s confusing and has many plot holes. The ending basically twists the entire plot a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDomi_mk August 22, 2013

Great book

I really liked how Julie A. Carlson (the writer) twists your mind and brings you in another world where aliens control the government and the whole world actual... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a futuristic United States, a teen girl named Dol is living in a peaceful Spanish Mission outside Los Angeles. She seems content to have a home with her makeshift father, the Padre, and her best friend, Ro. But, suddenly, things go awry and Dol and Ro are taken to the Embassy, off the coast of what was once L.A., which is controlled by aliens who took over the planet and the government years before. Ro makes friends with the ambassador's son, Lucas, and feisty Tim, who both want to start a revolt. Dol just wants to have peace in life and get the heck out out of there, but she's also falling for Lucas. Throughout the novel, the four cohorts discover they are all Icon children (aliens) who can control just about anything with their emotions -- which can lead them into further trouble or save them.

Is it any good?

Icons is very confusing: It doesn't really know what it wants to be -- dystopian or post-apocalyptic. Author Margaret Stohl should have picked one sci-fi genre and gone with it. Instead, we get a mashup of The War of the Worlds meets just about every dystopian novel in today's teen market. It starts out strong with an interesting world and a compelling heroine who's grown up isolated from the outside world in a Spanish Mission and doesn't know her true identity, but has always wondered why she and her friend Ro are different. Yet, once she's taken to the mysterious Embassy, she suddenly knows all about technology and is using all the tech lingo.

At first readers might be geared up for an exciting dystopian novel, but they end up with a confusing tale about aliens and government conspiracies. The characters are constantly at odds with each other, fighting and arguing, and seem always annoyed, especially Tima, who is hysterical and smug the entire book. Readers may quickly become annoyed themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories about aliens are so popular. What other ones have you read or seen in the movies?

  • How do you feel Margaret Stohl did without her usual writing partner, Kami Garcia? How is Icons different from the Beautiful Creatures books?

  • What do you think about having "classified" medical and research documents at the end of each chapter? Do they give you better insight into the story?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and fantasy

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