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New Release Review: THE BOOK OF IVY by Amy Engel (The Book of Ivy #1)

SO good! I need the sequel NOW!

The Book of Ivy
by Amy Engel


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…


The Book of Ivy was such a good read. It’s easily my favorite YA dystopian so far. It’s a genre that’s admittedly hit or miss for me–Katniss Everdeen will never have my full sympathy, and knowing how the final book in the Divergent series is going to end up, I’m not reading that series to the end–but this one had me gripped from page one.

And waiting an entire year for the sequel (because there’s only one, right? Please tell me it’s not a trilogy) just might be the death of me. I want it now.

I loved the character of Ivy Westfall–she’s strong, outspoken, and loyal, yet (eventually–because she’s stubborn too) willing to admit if even just to herself when she’s wrong–and I absolutelyadoredBishop Lattimer. Woza. Is it creepy to have a book boyfriend when you’re old enough to be his mother?

Yes? Never mind, then…

I really liked that the plotline here doesn’t involve clear-cut black-and-white, good-vs-evil characters. There’s so many shades and layers of gray here; it’s not really Ivy against the big, bad, evil government (until it kind of is–but for reasons completely unlike the “norm” for the genre). In fact, the longer the book continued the less sure I was that the government wasbig and bad at all.

It definitely isn’t without its flaws, but as Bishop very reasonably points out to her, their world is still ultimately a barbaric one and survival is very much a struggle for its inhabitants. The system his grandfather came up with is helping them to survive so far–even to thrive, though a bit precariously.

Bishop listens to Ivy’s concerns and complaints without the instant anger and defensiveness she expects, and makes her question the beliefs she’s held all her life.

“It’s not enough to want things to change without asking what they’re going to change into,”

he tells her at one point, and he’s absolutely right. Pie-in-the-sky idealism is very well and good, but theory doesn’t always translate well into real life practice.

So…the government might not be a completely evil adversary.

Ivy’s father and sister, though? Didn’t trust them from page one. Wanted to smother them in their sleep by the end. I knew from the beginning that they weren’t being completely truthful with Ivy, and by the book’s conclusion? Don’t even get me started…

I loved watching Ivy and Bishop become closer–and the reason for the book’s title, when it’s given, is absolutely awesome–and when everything started to fall apart it was absolutely terrifying to read. Thank goodness for my hour lunch break, because I don’t think I would have been capable of putting the book down in the last fifteen percent or so of it and gone back to work with any presence of mind whatsoever. I had to finish it.

And now I have to wait another year to find out what’s going to happen?

Now that’s cruel.

Sigh… 😉

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Book of Ivy will be released on Tuesday, November 11.

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