Published by Entangled Teen
Released: November 11, 2014
Source: Interlibrary Loan
Format: Hardcover, 282 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
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 has been on my radar since it released last November. What peaked my interest was that reviewers I respect raved about this book, except for the long wait until The Revolution of Ivy comes out later this year. Thankfully, my library was able to borrow a copy of this book from a library in West Virginia. Dystopian is a genre that has given me lots of trouble, but also lots of enjoyment. It's one genre that I think perhaps has reached it's tipping point of being saturated like vampires.
Amy Engel's world takes place Sixty years from now (2075). It's a society that managed to survive a nuclear war, and the fall out that came after including diseases, flooding, and drought. Founded by one family, but overthrown by another, The President of Westfall demands that the losing sides daughter marry the winning sides son, and vice versa. This is supposed to be the means to stabilize society, and keep it from fading into history.
For 16-year old Ivy Westfall, it means that this year she is expected to marry 18-year old Bishop Lattimer who put off marrying until now. But, marrying Bishop is only the first step in what her family has planned. Ivy isn't supposed to care or fall in love with Bishop. She's got one job; to kill Bishop. Ivy is definitely a likable character who really isn't given any opportunities to do what she wants to do. She has no friends, was kept safely at home by her father, and pushed by her older sister. She's fully expected to take on the entire family's troubles and do what they couldn't do; bring an end to the Lattimer's.
Ivy is determined not to fail at her mission. So much so, that she's surprised when her heart realizes that Bishop isn't the bad guy that her family has made him out to be. Bishop is caring, charming, has his own opinions, and loves the outdoors. Their relationship goes from being complete strangers, to best friends. I liked that he didn't push Ivy into doing something she wasn't ready for, and waited until she was ready before they finally kissed. I have to say that I was impressed that Engel didn't go all love at first sight between Ivy and Bishop.
I like that it takes time for them to understand each other, and open up about who they really are. What's more, there's no love triangles with any other boys prowling around Ivy's skirts waiting for Bishop to slip up. Ivy's family drama is one of heartbreaking and emotional. They really use Ivy for their own benefits, and don't care what she thinks as long as the end game is won by them. Even the ending is heartbreaking, but I do have full confidence that Engel will find a way to make things right in the sequel.
I will say this folks, don't worry about the slow start to the story. There are reasons for everything that Engel does. By the time you get to the ending, you will wish there was more to read. The Book of Ivy is one of the best books I've read this year. Fantastic premise, a heroine who hasn't had any choice in what she wants out of life but finds herself believing in the possibility of one. Finally, there is the love interest who is definitely one of the more enjoyable male characters I've read about.