The Book of Ivy
By: Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Published: Nov. 11, 2014
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
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 have no excuse as to why it took me so long to read this book. It has been sitting in my kindle since it came out over a year ago. All I have to say is, I was missing out. I had no idea how awesome this story was going to be. Usually young adult books tend to be on the mild side but not this one. Not only does the story revolve around Ivy who is set out by her family to kill the president’s son—who also happens to be her new husband—but there’s physical domestic abuse, mention of rape, and of course a lot of talk of killing. I was not expecting this to have as many dark undertones as it did. The fact that this is set in a world where teens are having arranged marriages and expected to reproduce as soon as possible is a little disturbing. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the marriages don’t always end peacefully.
“Now, the younger you are when you reproduce the better the chance your baby will be born with the right number of fingers and toes, the better the chance you’ll be able to have a child at all.”
You’d think that given the fact that Ivy is tasked to kill Bishop that you’d hate her. However, she wrestles with the decision the entire time. Plus, she’s smart and always thinks things through. She doesn’t take anything at face value and neither does Bishop. They were bother really intelligent people. Ivy knows her family is manipulating her and yet she’s still powerless to do anything because that’s her family. The fact that she’s able to see that was refreshing. She wasn’t just some blind sheep following the word of others.
“Is it still manipulation if you know it’s happening, but it works anyway?”
Bishop was another great character. While the book is told in Ivy’s point of view, you still get to slowly see the layers of Bishop. Because he is the President’s son, he’s used to random people schmoozing him and trying to get close to him. However, even though he is surrounded by people, he’s completely alone. He doesn’t let anyone in except Ivy. He has been interested in her since they were kids. He saw her in the hospital when she was attacked by a dog and there was something about the way she carried herself that had Bishop refusing to marry her sister when they became of age and instead waiting a few years so that he could marry Ivy instead. Which is not something you can just do… but I guess when you are the President’s son you can do what you want. Bishop is nothing but understanding, patient, and caring towards Ivy. He doesn’t push their marriage on her. He sleeps on the couch and keeps his distance from her. He waits for her to come to him even though he’s dying to be close to her. I just loved his character so much.
“From the very beginning he has wrong-footed me, upended all my simple, pre-formed ideas about who he is. This is just one more piece of the Bishop puzzle, a piece with jagged edges and no simple place where it slots into the bigger picture. I like that he is complex, that the final result of all his pieces will be something unique and hard to solve.”
If you can’t tell by now, I really enjoyed this story. I was expecting it to be one-dimensional but it was so much more than that. These characters have so many layers to them and everything is so much more than it seems, I just found myself completely immersed in the story. While the book ends on a cliffhanger, it’s not so bad that you couldn’t end it right there. Not that I’d want to because I want to know what happens next for Ivy. But it’s not one of those cliffhangers where it just ends in the middle of something. Which is something that drives me nuts. Either way, I am dying to read the conclusion to Ivy’s story.
“And it is Bishop who helped me break free. He didn’t save me, though. He allowed me the freedom to save myself, which is the very best type of rescue.”