Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy was an engrossing and refreshing read that I didn't want to put down.

As the debut book of author Amy Engel and the first in a duology, I had nothing to compare this to. What I got was much higher than any of my expectations. The Book of Ivy follows Ivy Westfall and her soon-to-be marriage to the President's son, Bishop Lattimer. The twist is that Ivy has a mission to kill Bishop in a plan set by her father so that he could regain control of their nation. As Ivy and Bishop spend more time together, Ivy finds it harder and harder to go on with the plan. The novel ends on a major cliffhanger and I cannot wait for the next book, The Revolution of Ivy, to come out later this year in November!

This novel is told in first person point of view from Ivy's perspective. As the first ever book I've listened to and not read, it took a while getting used to being in Ivy's head. At first, I found Ivy to be immature, naive, and a bit daft. She never realized the whole entire time that she is being manipulated by people when it was so obvious to me as a reader. Throughout the book, we learn more about Ivy's childhood, and I completely understood why Ivy was the way she is. Ivy herself as a character is a headstrong protagonist that fights for what she believes in and is not afraid to express what she feels. In fact, she's pretty easy to read and never really hides anything, and that is why I found it so astounding that she could hide her father's masterplan the whole entire time she lived with Bishop. This itself showed major depth to her character and insight into her loyalty to the people she loves. I thought it was extremely inspiring to see a girl hide something so well when she is basically an open book with her emotions. The way Ivy and Bishop's relationship as standoff-ish strangers evolved to being each other's confidants was done really well. The dynamic between them was believable, and I loved how Ivy's view on Bishop changed as she slowly realizes that her father isn't the perfect man she always thought of him to be.

With the way the novel ended, to say I'm excited for the next novel is an understatement. As mentioned before, the series is only a duology, which I find to be quite refreshing. I know as a reader I won't have to go through three books, one most likely an anticipation builder to reach the happy ending I wan
t. I have a vague guess of what is going to happen, but the second book can end in so many ways. The plot itself  does not follow the run of the mill dystopian trope. Sure, there is a morally shady government controlling an area, but there is not an opposing force that could end all struggles. In fact, each side has their pros and cons, and neither is that good of a solution. There is also no torture in these novels against innocents. The antagonist of the novel isn't even that evil to begin with, Ivy was just raised to believe he was. Yes, criminals are thrown out of their sanctioned space and into the wild, but some are deserving. The only processes that truly need help is the weeding out of those who are deemed horrible enough to be cast out or not, and the equality between males and females.

This brings up another underlying theme that was refreshing to read. In almost all dystopians, equality is addressed. In Shatter Me, there is a divide between the life of citizens and those with powers, Hunger Games with the factions, and Matched  with the cast outs of society.The list goes on and on. However, I have never read a dystopian novel that still includes problems that we have today. In Divergent,  no one says, "A girl can't choose Duantless! She's weak!"In the Maze Runner, a corporate group has no qualms about putting girls in the same grueling, torturous events as they did for boys. However, in The Book of Ivy,  women have no say about what they want in life. Their one goal is to get married and have children as soon as possible. If they are not chosen to be wed, they are deemed a failure in the eye of society. The women in this futuristic world face the same problems we see all over the world today. I appreciated how the issue was still so prevalent in the novel and was brought up in a way that was not overbearing. Yes, Ivy can be considered a feminist because she wants equality for both sexes, but it wasn't her one personality trait that made her a rebel. This dystopian novel has a corrupt world that not only I could imagine happening, but actually happen within seventy years, and not 200 like all the others.

The writing itself in The Book of Ivy was fantastic. There are some wonderful quotes that I just had to re-listen to because they were so beautiful. I will definitely be reading any of Engel's works just to be immersed in her writing style again. The characters were fleshed out and complex, even the secondary ones. Bishop's parents have a whole entire backstory we haven't fully delved into yet, and each character has so much depth. The plot is quick paced and never slows down. It starts with a bang, and only gets more intense from there.

If you're looking for a series that has virtually no commitment with a breakneck pace and believable characters, then this is the novel to you. My only two complaints are that Ivy can be hard to relate to at first, and that I had an inkling of the twist at the end. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I had a feeling of what. Pick this up if you're looking for a dystopian novel that doesn't seem like a carbon copy of the one's everyone and their mother has read.

4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Want to know more? Check out the goodreads page here!

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