Title: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Genre: YA Dystopian
Opens: … No one wears white wedding dresses anymore …
Blurb: After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together after more conflict over which family would govern the few survivors. The Westfalls, my family, 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.
My Thoughts: I have had THE BOOK OF IVY sitting on my TBR pile for a few months now and am so glad I picked it up because I really enjoyed it. After a nuclear war little bands of survivors were scattered around and gradually banded together and erected a large fence around a small town that had escaped the worst of the damage. Then the fighting started again – two families jostled for power, The Westfalls who had started the community and the Lattimers who came along later. The Lattimers won and the head of the family called himself President Lattimer and it became a hereditary title rather than a democratically decided one. The Westfalls and their followers were relegated to a lesser position in the community. In order to ensure peace a law was brought in that made every 16-year-old girl on the Westfall side of town present herself for a wedding to a 16-year-old Lattimer boy. They all had to fill out a questionnaire to be perfectly matched. The idea behind this is that the Westfalls would not risk rebelling and killing their daughters and grandchildren. Punishment for disobedience was harsh – the convicted person would be pushed outside the fence to try and survive on their own.
Ivy Westfall’s father has come up with a plan to overthrow the Lattimer’s, His youngest daughter Ivy is scheduled to marry President Lattimer’s only child – Bishop. Ivy must kill Bishop and the rest of the Westfall’s will kill the President. Her older sister was groomed to be the killer, but when she presents herself at 16 to marry Bishop he announces he doesn’t want to marry until he is 18. This meant that Ivy was to be the one he married and she had just two years to be turned into a killer, an instinct she is not really comfortable with, but resigned to do. Trouble is once Ivy moves in with Bishop, and she sees that maybe things are not as her father has portrayed, her attitude begin to change.
THE BOOK OF IVY is not a fast paced story – but it keeps you riveted with a storyline that contains murder plots, betrayal, uncovered truths and love. To save her people Ivy has to make a sacrifice, she has to kill her husband and risk execution. But as she gets to know her new spouse, and realise he is nothing like his father, she comes to love and admire him and so becomes torn between allegiance to her family and love of her husband.
Ivy was a wonderful complex character – strong yet vulnerable, determined not to love her husband but being deeply attracted to him, trained to kill yet hating violence. Eventually she alone finds the courage and strength to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Then there is Bishop. What a wonderful male lead he is. Not a bad boy come good – he IS good. He is thoughtful, considerate, able to cook and clean, is determined, a strong sense of right and wrong – and if there was a little old lady I am sure he would have helped her across the road.
THE BOOK OF IVY is very thought provoking – the story is definitely character driven and it really makes you think – what would you do if you were Ivy? I am not sure I would have the strength of mind and courage to do what she does. And what did she do? Well you will have to buy the book for yourself and see – and along the way you will meet some very good support characters, both good and wicked. If I had a gripe at all then it would be the world building was not as in depth as I would have liked – the reader is certainly given a sense of everyday life, but not enough to really see what deprivations they must have had after an all-out nuclear holocaust. The next book THE REVOLUTION OF IVY is due out in November and I have already got it on pre-order
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B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.