The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
In the future, nuclear war has destroyed the United States. Not many survived the devastation, and those who did live in small towns, fenced off from the dangers surrounding them. Food and resources are scarce, but it's not all that bad for those in the town of Westfall. The 10,000 people living there have made a fairly decent life for themselves. They are kept safe from outsiders by a fence, they have houses to live in and they have enough food to keep them satisfied. This comfortable lifestyle came at a price, though. Fifty years ago, the town was divided over who would govern and how. After more fighting, peace was restored, but there were concessions made. In order to keep the peace and discourage the two sides from plotting against each other, at the age of sixteen, the women from the losing side must marry the men from the winning side and the men from the losing side must marry the women from the winning side. It's sort of an arranged "wife swap". People are less likely to attack the enemy when their own children are caught in the crossfire.
Ivy Westfall is sixteen. She is the daughter of the losing side's leader and is being forced to marry Bishop Lattimer, a stranger who happens to be the President's son. She's been preparing her whole life for this moment, but not because she's expecting to be a good wife and mother. Ivy has a different mission...to kill her new husband. She is given this mission by her father and older sister, Callie, in order to begin a revolution that will change who's in power. She knows it has to be done for the good of all, but also because President Lattimer is responsible for her own mother's death. If Ivy succeeds, she hopes to bring an end to the arranged marriages and the incidental oppression of the people on the wrong side of the town's history.
Before Ivy murders her husband, she must get to know him and gain his trust, because she's also charged with the task of gaining information crucial to the revolution. For her entire life, Callie and her father have told her about the horrors that go on behind closed doors within these forced marriages, so she's prepared for the worst, but what she gets is not what she expected. Ivy discovers that Bishop is not the cruel man she's been warned about. He's actually kind and understanding, with hopes and dreams of his own, and he doesn't agree with his own father about how he's running things in Westfall. The more Ivy learns about Bishop, the harder it is to deny her growing feelings for him. In the time spent away from her father and Callie, she begins to learn more about the world and about herself, but she also discovers that not everything she's been told is true. Now, Ivy is torn between proving her worth to her family by fulfilling her mission and saving the life of the man she's grown to love.
1) Nooo!! I do NOT want to wait until November for the sequel! I need it NOW!
2) Bishop is my new book boyfriend. You hear that...MINE!
But seriously, I kind of loved this book, I practically inhaled it! It's a well-paced, classic, post-apocalyptic dystopian story with complex characters and a sweet (and very believable) romance. Amy Engel's writing is elegant and beautiful. The plot is unique and quite interesting and the world building is fantastic. Everything is so believable (again with that word, but it totally applies). What I liked was that Ivy grew as a character as she saw more of the world. She saw the good and bad things happening in Westfall, but as she discovered that there are two sides to every story, she was able to make her own decisions and come to her own conclusions. Her final decision was a bit rash and extreme, but it fit with the fact that she really is only sixteen. She did what she knew was the right thing to her. It may have cost her everything, but in her mind, it was was what she had to do. Don't you wish you knew what she did? I guess you'll have to read the book to find out. There is a cliffhanger ending, so be prepared to scream and join me as I claw my eyes out while wondering what happens next.