Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dual Review: The Book of Ivy and The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

The Book of Ivy
by Amy Engel
Read: October 23 - November 3, 2015
November 4, 2014 by Entangled: Teen
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: YA, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, romance
Series: Book 1/2 

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…

The Book of Ivy takes place in a future version of the United States after a war has destroyed most of the country. A group of survivors - led by two different families - came together fifty years ago to create the town of Westfall. After an initial conflict between those two families over who would govern, the town has existed peacefully since that time. But that peace and security comes with heavy control, including the rule that the daughters of the losing side would be married to the sons of the wining group in a yearly ritual. This year, Ivy Westfall, a direct descendent of the losing side, is to marry Bishop Latimer, the son of the town's president. Ivy has a mission to fulfill when she marries Bishop: kill him and begin a conflict that will put her family back in power in the town. However, as soon as Ivy meets Bishop she realizes that he isn't anything that she imagined, and her task doesn't look so simple anymore.  

Thank goodness I waited to read this until book 2 had released. I don't think I could have survived a longer wait. I totally get all the love for Bishop now! Actually, I related to Ivy a lot as well, more than I expected to. I like that she's impulsive and straightforward. And though it takes her time to get her head on straight (and I wanted to yell at her a few times!), I was proud of her in the end. And this story had such a lovely slow burn romance and lots of swoon, which was all so well done. 

I wish we'd gotten more of and overall look at this world, as well as a stronger look at why things needed to change in Westfall. Obviously there are some glaring women's right's issues in this town, but I wanted more urgency felt to them. I mean if the world was almost destroyed from nuclear wars, these people are holding it together pretty well considering. Although we're told of its merits, I was never on board with Ivy's dad's plans. I think a lot of that is because I didn't like him (or Callie) at all. We don't spend much time with them and what we did see was not favorable. Though I'm all about democracy, and agree there are some huge issues in their current society, I couldn't connect with Ivy's belief in her dad's cause. Nor did I believe he'd be a better leader considering his current decisions. I feel awful for admitting this, but I liked Bishop's dad better of the two, despite disagreeing with many aspects of how he ran the government.

I'm excited to see how book two builds on this all going forward, especially and hopefully the swoon ;). 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger scale: High


The Revolution of Ivy
by Amy Engel
Read: November 4 - 5, 2015
November 3, 2015 by Entangled Teen
Source: Kindle purchase
Category: YA, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, romance 
Series: Book 2/2

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty--forced marriages and murder plots--for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall's borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy's life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she's fought for.

Surprisingly (for me), I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first one, although there are certain aspects - like Bishop - that were amazing.  Although not delineated on the page, in my head The Revolution of Ivy is set up in three parts 1) survival 2) 'i'm not worthy' aka relationship angst and 3) revolution. I was really proud of Ivy through the first section. I was very frustrated with her through most of the second, but she brought it around in eventually. And I didn't understand several of her choices in the third, though I admired her drive and convictions. Ivy doesn't really understand love, and though it was hard for me to go through that struggle with her, in the end It was rewarding to watch her discover what love is and accept it. This happens mostly because of Bishop's presence in her life. I loved Bishop in every part of this book. He is pretty much a picture of unconditional love. Endlessly patient and willing to follow Ivy anywhere, even when her decisions don't make sense (to anyone but her). I'm still sighing and swooning over him.

Here's the thing, though. In this book we get to be on the outside of the gate, and I enjoyed seeing what was out there, meeting Ash and Caleb and focusing on Ivy and her growth. But at the same time, for most of the book, we are completely separated from what is happening in Westfall. Honestly, I don't even really remember what Ivy's dad's vision was - she keeps saying he had great ideas, but what were they exactly? - and I don't have a firm understanding of Latimer's ruling strategy either? It made it tough for me to follow along with Ivy's plans near the end, because I honestly didn't care about those people or connect to them. Basically the plot outside of Ivy's growth, her new friends and relationship with Bishop, felt weak to me.

This is something seemingly small that bugged me a lot: in The Book of Ivy, Ivy goes on about how she's not ready for marriage or babies yet, and part of the catalyst for the overall plot is how terrible it is that this society forces girls like her into those two things so young. And yet, in this book, Ivy and Bishop decide to have sex, but there is absolutely zero discussion of contraception - I got the sense that it doesn't exist in this world? - nor is there any mention of consequences or outcomes of unprotected sex, beyond the fun part of it. The probability of a pregnancy is never factored into why Ivy wanted to wait previously, or anything to do with her being ready now. Especially in a dystopian society where people are mostly using products left over from the past, without manufacturing new ones, I feel like the possibility of pregnancy should have been a part of their discussion, or some sort of preventive measure mentioned. It was a glaring plot hole to me that this wasn't brought up at all.

In sum: The outside plot/world building elements were not as complex as I'd hoped, but the romance continued to shine, and Bishop is the true star of this book. It was also nice to be able to read this duet back to back and go right through the cliffhanger. I haven't been able to do that in a while. Overall I'd recommend these, but if you choose to read this series, be looking for the characters and romance more than a big dystopian or post apocalyptic plot thread. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series end


  1. Hah, I have never really read any reviews for these books? And the covers *cringes* idk I'm really shallow I KNOW lol but they don't appeal to me at all + combined with the fact that they look dystopian / sci-fi-ish and I am sort of burnt out on these genres -- I have never felt the burning need to know what these books are about or why people like them so much. I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS THAT KIND OF ROMANCE OMG!!! I love stories like this! And yay for swoon and slow burn :) It looks like there's lots of feelings involved and decisions what with doing the right thing perhaps + siding with your family or your loved one. Sorry you didn't love the second one as much, though I'm glad you enjoyed it some! Hmmmm yeah. I do know where you're coming from. Sometimes authors (*cough* R. Mead for instance *cough) focus too much on rehashing what has gone on before or explaining a little too much to the reader in future books but it's also not the best perhaps if there isn't much rehashing and you're left to depend on your own memory. Knowing how many books we bloggers read and a lot of big book nerds out there -- this may be a bit of a struggle. Ok, I love YAbooks that feature sex and sexuality, but I also love when SAFE sex is promoted and if not then there is at least some talk about the possibility of a pregnancy. sO this would have been a problem for me as wel. I'm glad you loved the romance so much, Lauren!

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

  2. This is another series that I've not heard of before Lauren, but like you I'm not the most patient of readers and so of course want the next book in the series in my hands straight away. I do like my books where the MC has particular ideas in her head about the potential crush, but then is swayed to feel something else completely. You know for one how much I adore my romances when done well, and this one sounds like one I can't be missing out on, I can't wait to meet Bishop! Fantastic review! :)

  3. Awesome reviews Lauren :D I am so happy you liked these books. I have heard a bit about them :) The romance seems amazing. Sigh. And the boy too. And the plot sounds pretty exciting too :D But not sure I want to read them. Sigh. But you are making them sound pretty amazing :) So I'm a bit curious. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts sweetie. <3 Yaaay for no love triangle ;)

  4. Yes, love Bishop so much. Their relationship and its slow build and burn, totally made book 1 for me. I felt the same way, I didn't like Book 2 as much, but that's usually the way that it is. This is one of those that maybe should have been a trilogy? I don't know, book 2 would have been worse, but maybe book 3 better? Book 2 could have been totally outside the wall, and then book 3 back in and more about the politics, etc. Maybe that would have helped. Great reviews, glad you enjoyed them (for the most part). ~Pam


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