Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Title: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1)
Author: Amy Engel
Published: November 11th, 204
Publisher: Entangled: Teem
Synopsis: 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'm not the biggest fan of dystopians even though The Hunger Games is one of my favourite series but I am a fan of character based stories. The synopsis sounded intriguing and it's what made me pick up the book but I don't think it does it much justice because this book is more than what you might expect. The Book of Ivy pulled me in from the get-go, as cliche as that may sound. I started reading one afternoon and soon the hours just dissolved around me.

When I first read the synopsis I thought I knew what I was in for. An arranged marriage insta-love trope, the small group for justice against a big evil villian power? Yada yada. NOPE. I was wrong. That is why I believe the synopsis doesn't do the book much justice because this book was quite unexpected to be honest! Yes, it's not the most original idea and there are many elements you see quite often in YA lit or dystopians. However, it's done so well that I have no worries about the originality. The Book of Ivy still manages to weave a unique complex tale in between familiar elements.

Everyone in this book is complex and not as they seem because every plot line to every character has many layers. As the story went on, many revelations come to light and I was surprised and astonished along the whole journey. There's a slow burning fire to this book and it's the characterization that really got to me.

Ivy really pulled me in as a character because she's not one-dimensional and you don't know whether to root for her or not. I don't think she's likable at all when you first meet her. She's been trained for a certain goal and she's closed off but her human-ness really starts to show as her monologue goes on. I think it's not always easy to tell which is the right path or the side to be on and I really think Ivy's internal conflicts show the enormity and complexity of the world around her instead of the strong headed dystopian heroines we've come to expect. There's a subtle vulnerability around Ivy Westfall.

Bishop was a big surprise to me. Let's be honest: I was expecting Bishop to be the moral light for Ivy and for him to just be this sheltered boy who'd be moved by Ivy's thoughts or something. However, Bishop Lattimer is the quiet and gentle warrior who's hard to figure out. He's not Mr. Perfect I can tell you that. A lot of his back story is still pretty secret in book 1 but I do know that he's not the one-dimensional male love interest. I'm predicting him to play a bigger part in the whole series and for now, I'll just be casually sitting here with my heart beating for him like crazy.

The romance in this book is very subtle. While the plot is highly fast-paced, there's a slow sweet development to Bishop & Ivy's relationship. I was very impressed at the pace of their relationship development because it was perfect. I just sat around swooning, let's be honest.

Lastly, the whole good vs. evil in this book is very complex. The villains are not quite the villains and the heroes are not quite the heroes. I don't know quite what to say. There's a lot of complexity that Amy Angel has weaved into the plot. Let's just say that upon the end, I was crying huge tears. It's like my soul was tore up and I was a mess, I'm not even kidding. I need the sequel because I'm wholeheartedly taken by the whole story.

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