Today I shall be reviewing The Book Of Ivy by Amy Engel. I picked this up in a fit of impulse in Dymocks. I read the back, and was vaguely interested, and the cover and title already had me intrigued. Then I looked it up on goodreads, and almost choked on my tongue. 4.25 stars. For a book like this that I'd never heard of, that was massive. So I bought it, and I've never made a better decision.
The Book Of Ivy was just brilliant. No cheesy, insta-love, no typical YA "bad boy", no boring bits. I could not put it down, not even if I tried. I think I said I'd stop reading at chapter thirteen, but then continued on to chapter twenty. It was enthralling, however the main character was a bit annoying. I'll elaborate on that later. For now, synopsis time!
Ivy Westfall is the granddaughter of the man who lost a huge nuclear war. And ever since, the girls from the losing side have been married off to the boys from the winning side at only sixteen years of age.
Ivy, however, is special. After unexpectedly taking her sister's place in marrying the son of the President, a huge responsibility is shifted onto her shoulders.
The responsibility of killing him.
But Bishop Lattimer is not what Ivy expected. He's not cruel, not mean. Nevertheless, that doesn't change Ivy's fate. Bishop has to die, and Ivy has to kill him.
It was highly entertaining and I recommend it to anyone. This is for sure a five star read.
Why. That ending. Just why. Anyways.
I really, really loved this book. I was captured by it, and I read it in a few hours total. Really the only issue I had with this was Ivy and how annoying she was. She was constantly saying things, and throughout the book I was groaning and saying "shut your mouth", "please stop" and "Ivy, no!". She said and did things that made me want to punch her in the face, but I suppose that was her character, and in this book for some reason, I was able to get past that. I did find, however, that she was receiving special treatment at certain points, because some of the things that she were doing would have surely set some people, including the President and Mrs Lattimer, on edge. However, I suppose it's no secret she opposes their family, and she is the President's daughter-in-law, so it just depends on the way you look at it. But that was the only real issue I had with it, but it was pretty minor.
I've seen a lot of people complaining in their reviews that there was nothing between Ivy and Bishop. I don't quite agree with that, to be perfectly honest. I think that just because they didn't get together at the start of the book, doesn't mean they couldn't be falling towards one another gradually. I think being married to someone like that, spending so much time together, you eventually will begin to get along. And Ivy and Bishop were compatible. They have lots in common; the fact that both their fathers are power-hungry and they force Ivy and Bishop into what they believe. I think that they were compatible on the level that they're working out what they actually believe, despite the brainwashing from the fathers. So I do believe that they were in love, but then again, I don't necessarily believe in "true love".
But Bishop Lattimer. *decapitated walrus noises* You, sir, can join my Fictional Baes List.I knew Bishop was going to be set up so the reader would love him. But I didn't anticipate that he would be the way he was. Bishop was just, in general, a great guy. He was respectful and kind, and even though his parents had brought him up the way they did, even though he was slightly abandoned as a child, even though the world he lives in is extremely messed up, even though he has every reason to be bitter and twisted and the stereotypical YA "bad boy", he's not. Not only is he not bitter, he actively tries to help. And I found it a real change from most of the other books I've read. Also I really shipped Ivy/Bishop, you can't stop me.
The love story in this reminded me a bit of These Broken Stars; in fact the whole book did. So if you liked These Broken Stars, I think you'll like this, too (also, I'm definitely going to buy the sequel to These Broken Stars and I'm definitely going to do a review so look forward to that if you're a fan!).
The world this story is set in is pretty messed up, to be perfectly honest. As I said in the synopsis, the girls of the Westfall side (the losing side) are married to the sons of the Lattimer side (the winning side). The losing boys are also married to the winning girls, but that's not focused on as much (hmmm... maybe I'd like a novella on the story of one of those couples? Just a thought...). I didn't hate President Lattimer. He wasn't creepy or blatantly evil, like President Snow from The Hunger Games. In fact, he wasn't even really that evil at all. Of course, the whole arranged marriages thing is horrific, but considering that this nation was on its way to death, destruction and etc and he managed to save them all. So I suppose I didn't exactly dislike him. But I didn't like Ivy's father, either. Neither of them had the right idea about how to rule, and to be perfectly honest, I'd prefer if everyone just chilled the heck out until Bishop gets to be President. Although, that's not really fair on him...
I really didn't like Callie, and I was so, so thankful that it wasn't her Bishop was marrying. She wouldn't have hesitated in killing him; he'd be dead in a flash. She was obviously very loyal to her father and his cause, and it annoyed me that she was so blind and power hungry that she didn't even recognize that the ideals her father promoted were different from the ones he was planning to put into play. I found her cruel and heartless, and especially when she and her father happily threw Ivy under the bus at the end of the book. They really didn't care about her as much as they cared about the cause, Callie especially. It was heartbreaking. But it was time for Ivy to realise that she didn't owe her family anything, and she was able to make her own choices. And that the only person who really cared about her and would put her before himself was Bishop.
I really enjoyed The Book Of Ivy. It was fun, fast-paced and really enthralling. But I'd love to know your thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to let me know in the comments, with a tweet to @lilypherondale or a ask to my tumblr, sherlockcrumpets.
See you next week for another post!