Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

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Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable survival/dystopian story employing motifs from Greek mythology. It's refreshing to find a female lead character who isn't lionised as an ass-kicker but this one is perhaps a little too passive.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2016
Publisher: Curious Fox
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1782024921

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Daedalum's children have one collective ambition. They pray to be chosen as Icarii - honoured ones between the ages of ten and sixteen who will enter the labyrinth, find their way through it to Alyssia, and become angels. Every child yearns to be chosen. Every parent yearns for their child to be chosen. Clara, our girl's best friend, is the most devout of everyone. She knows she is destined to become an angel. Our girl, though, does not want to be chosen. In her society, this is such a badge of shame that she keeps silent. And, along with Clara, chosen she is.

Of course, the labyrinth is nothing like the Icarii have been told it will be. It's strange, dark, cold, and full of monsters. The Icarii must fight for survival and their chances are low...

It's refreshing to find a dystopian novel with a female lead character who is most assuredly not kick-ass. Our girl is crippled by social anxiety. There is little dialogue in the book, mostly because our girl can rarely bring herself to speak, let alone act. During the course of the plot, she is either cared for or abused by the other characters and we understand her through her thoughts not her actions. This makes the read both harrowing and frustrating - you want the person inside the frozen exterior to escape and act, but you're also witness to many humiliations and degradations and it's not nice. Our girl is a cipher and I am curious to read further books to find out more about her identity. I think there are secrets there.

The novel opens with a bang and the action sequences when the Icarii first find themselves in the labyrinth are brutal and bloody. The pace then slows down somewhat for the middle period and then quickens again for the denouement. I enjoyed this ratcheting up and down because it made the story unpredictable.

On a superficial level, Children of Icarus is a mash-up of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner with an overlay of Greek mythology, but I don't think the action is really the point. Underneath the standard dystopian tropes, we have a mystery. What is the labyrinth? Who built it? Does Alyssia even exist? I think the identity of our girl ties into the answers to all these questions. But who knows? I could be wrong!

If you are looking for a new angle on the overheated dystopian market, Children of Icarus might just have it. Provided you enjoy a novel whose pace ebbs and flows and a central character who isn't one hundred per cent heroic at all times, I think you'll enjoy it.

Other dystopian quest stories you might not have come across include The Inferior by Peadar o Guilin and Silverhorse by Lene Kaaberbol. We loved them both. You might also enjoy The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen and The Forsaken by Lisa Stasse.

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Buy Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith at


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