Book Review – ‘The Book of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

A surprisingly irresistible YA dystopian about a girl bred to become an assassin…

The Book of Ivy Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 282

From Goodreads:

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…

Page border by Casey Carlisle

This novel was compelling, I finished it in one day.

The Book of Ivy’ had hints of The Selection Series, and though I haven’t read it, others have compared it to ‘Cruel Beauty.’ But comparisons don’t do it justice, because I thoroughly enjoyed the wild ride Amy Engel takes us on. IT was like stuffing your face with a massive helping of your favorite cake.

Although our protagonist Ivy is strong, level headed and made her own decisions, she is still shoved in certain directions by her family and peers. With this story told from her point of view we get to see her start to question those she trusts, and it builds tension in the narrative to the point where I couldn’t put the book down. I liked the aspects of sexism and gender roles and how they were challenged – but dealt with both sides of the equation – more like a balanced argument. Ivy is like an instrument for illumination on social constructs for the reader. It was empowering on many fronts.

It was a great story that had me, and Ivy, questioning everyone and their motives. It felt more like a mystery novel.

It was also great to see how Ivy’s age was frequently brought up. That she is still growing and becoming a person, and the pressures of the society she lived in should not be oppressed against her, not matter in which direction they came from.

The Book of Ivy Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgBishop, the man she is to assassinate and out antagonist/love interest, is definitely leader material – a little too good. Though, I appreciated his grounding and sense of right in a world where that was skewed. It gave Ivy a rock to cling to, a role model to form her own opinions from.

I’m really thankful how there was no instalove, and no need for the narrative forcing them to get intimate before they are ready. Because of the tropes in this genre of YA and the way the story was set up, we are lead to expect it, but then, the story dodges in a different direction. I felt like I was continually getting teased – in a good way.

The pacing is fantastic, which compliments the inquisitive writing style. Drawing you into Ivy’s world and setting you up as a passive observer on society and assumption.

There are many characters with hidden agendas and we only get a peek under the veil before the book ends – and what a cliff hanger! Really pleased I gave this a go – and can’t wait to jump into the sequel ‘The Revolution of Ivy.’ Highly recommend this to anyone who loves dystopian, YA, warring families, politics and strong female characters…

The only reason I’m not giving it a perfect score is because some elements were a little too fantastic (like Bishop), and I would have liked to have seen a little more fight in Ivy earlier on. Great tension, great read!

Overall feeling: Did you see that? I think I’m stunned-amazed-engrossed-happy…

The Book of Ivy Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gif

The Book of Ivy Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review – ‘The Book of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

  1. TeacherofYA says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you liked it bc I’ve been wanting to pick up this book for AGES!! But no one has ever reviewed it! Thank you for reviewing it and I’m so happy you liked it.
    Now I’m going to get it!

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