Title: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Published: November 11th, 2014
Genres: young adult, dystopian, romance
Rating: ★★★★★ – 5/5 stars
Synopsis: After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. This year, it is my turn.
My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.
Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…
I featured this book in my post about November new releases I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. I don’t know why I waited about a month to read it. On one hand, I wish I would’ve read it immediately because I could’ve discovered this story sooner. On the other hand, I wish I had waited even longer to read this. I know that’s sounds weird because those two statements are polar opposites. But now I have to wait until November 2015 to read the sequel and I don’t know if I can wait that long! This was such an incredible novel and I need to know what happens to Ivy next.
I’d already heard raving reviews from other bloggers and vloggers so my expectations were already raised a bit. Yet I didn’t expect to love it this much!
First let’s talk a bit about the plot. It’s a dystopian society and two generations ago, two families battled for power in this small fenced area. The Westfall family lost and the Lattimers became presidents. Now, to make sure that the losing side -which was Ivy’s family- doesn’t start a rebellion they are obliged to marry their daughters off to the sons of the winning side. The entire community is thus based on arranged marriages. I absolutely loved the plot! It starts on Ivy’s wedding day when she has to marry Bishop, the president’s son. While all other girls and guys get matched to each other through interviews and surveys so they marry someone that matches them, Bishop & Ivy don’t get a say because they are descendants from the two families.
Before you start reading the novel, the only things you know about the plot are that Ivy and Bishop have to marry and that Ivy’s secret mission is to kill him. But you don’t know how she is going to do it or whether there is a big scheme behind it. I really liked how Amy Engel created the story. The hatred between the two families that fuels this entire novel. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to ruin anything for you but know that the story captivated me so much that I read during class.
Secondly, the main characters! First, we have Ivy who has been raised by her dad and sister. In the beginning, she is so full of hatred, which is incredibly understandable. And it’s hard to explain but she is strong and afraid at the same time! She’s afraid -obviously- because she is a 16 year old girl who just had an arranged marriage into the family that ruined hers. No wonder she’s afraid. She doesn’t know Bishop, only knows his last name. But she is strong at the same time, determined not to disappoint the only family she has left. She has an open mind -once she sees that Bishop is not who she was taught he is- and learns to ask questions instead of just fulfill orders. I like that in a person, the ability to form their own opinion instead of just adopting someone else’s. I have to say that in the beginning, she was her family’s spokesperson: adopted all of their beliefs without really raising questions. But she grows!
Then there is Bishop. Oh, how I wish we could have had chapters from his point of view! I would have loved a chance to take a peek into his mind. Now, we slowly get to know him, just like Ivy has to. And I kind of liked that. It made me feel like I was right there figuring out whether the prejudices were true, if he’s acting or sincere, what kind of person he is. It made his whole character seem more real to me somehow.
And then there is the family aspect which is -obviously- very important in this novel. There is a big difference between the family dynamics of Bishop’s and Ivy’s family. Bishop’s mother is distant and cold. Ivy’s family is focused on one thing: revenge. In the beginning of the novel, I thought I knew which family I sided with. It seemed like such an easy decision: black and white. By the end though, I had no clue which family I should align myself with. It’s a very -VERY- grey area. I like how this book makes the reader question everything and everyone. How it makes you realize that you should always -always!- form your own beliefs.
If you can’t tell by now, I absolutely loved this book. Yes, it may have taken a bit longer for everything to really unfold but that just gave me time to get to know the characters and the surroundings. I am really curious about the sequel, I need to have it NOW!
I highly recommend this book to everyone! I really hope one of you may pick it up and love it too. And if you have read it, let me know what you thought, I’d love to hear that!