Google+ YA Romantics: Book I Overlooked: Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book I Overlooked: Book of Ivy by Amy Engel



I have a pretty good idea of the kinds of books I like. I try to step out of my comfort zone, but there's never enough time and so many books.

But every so often, I start to hear about a book I overlooked. One that I decided wasn't for me ... until I began to read rave reviews. So of course I had to investigate:

The Book of Ivy (Book of Ivy #1)
by Amy Engel
Published by Entangled Teen
on November 11, 2014

Synopsis 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…

Why did I pass this one up? Dystopian YA and I are taking a break, for the most part. So when I read this, I thought ... eh. Matched. Been there, read that.

What I thought: While this book isn't perfect, I thought that its good points were really very good. If you're a stickler for lots of detailed dystopian world building, you may be a little dissatisfied. The scene setting is pretty much limited to the information in the synopsis above, and the post-nuclear US seems pretty similar to our world. There aren't much in the way of developed secondary characters, with the exception of the president, who had some interesting potential, and Ivy's boss.

But let's be honest: the appeal of this book is ALL about Ivy and Bishop and their slow burn romance, something that had me turning the pages like crazy. The two of them are forced into an arranged marriage that felt more retro-chaste than futuristic, but that resulted in a lot of romantic tension. (It also reminded me a little of my secret guilty reality TV pleasure, 90 Day Fiance. Shhh.) There was something completely touching and completely spellbinding about the way these two warily formed a sort-of relationship. I loved the way the book acknowledged the weirdness of their situation while at the same time working it for all it was worth.

Just when Ivy and Bishop were getting a little bit cozy, disaster struck. Of course. And this being dystopian YA, there's a cliffhanger ending. And a second book comes out in fall 2015. But I'm not worried; I've read a few of these kinds of stories and can pretty much predict how things will turn out in the end. I'll definitely be checking the second book out!

Have you read this? Let me know what you thought in comments!

26 comments:

  1. I did the EXACT same thing with this book and I am so glad I purchased a copy since now I can't wait to read it. It happens to the best of us. I remember being appalled at the fact that Hunger Games was a reality show where a bunch of teenagers tried to kill eCh other.....yea. I hope you enjoy!
    ❤️Britt @ Please Feed The Bookworm

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    1. Ha - I had the same reaction to THG, but of course I loved it!

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  2. i loved loved loved this book and you are so right. the appeal is the slow burn romance. so if you one is not into romance that is so swoon worthy..,. dont read this book.

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    1. It was swoony and also really sweet. Very well done!

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  3. Completely agree! This book is adorable and I love that it doesn't try to be this epic dystopian story---this is mostly a romance that happens to be set in a dystopian world, but nevertheless a romance, and I got that by reading the description, decided to read it, and voila! it delivered, and I got what I wanted: a cute slow burn romance with extremely likable characters that I care about. The rest of the story fits pretty well with Ivy and Bishop's struggles, and that's a bonus.
    Honestly, after all the dystopian books I've been reading for the past few years (so many of them ended up being a disappointment, mainly the trilogies), this one was a breath of fresh air. Can't wait for the next book and Ivy and Bishop's reunion! :D

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    1. That's a good point and I agree with you. I'm not the person who needs to know the entire history of how the dystopia got that way. I'm fine with a sketchy setup and characters I love.

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    2. Same here. Worldbuilding and complex plots are awesome, but if I can't relate with the main characters, or if they're not likable to me, I'll probably not enjoy the book that much. It's all about the characters. :)

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  4. I think most of the blogosphere overlooked this book at first and than, slowly, everyone started to really really love it. The appeal in this one is definitely the romance and slow burn between Bishop and Ivy. They were the heart of the story. I can confidently say that.

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    1. I think timing is everything and this book arrived as dystopian books were feeling a little overdone. But I'm glad that I'm not the only one who gave it a chance!

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  5. Okay, you've convinced me. I need to read this book ASAP! I'd initially overlooked it because dystopians just aren't my thing, but if the dystopian aspect isn't a huge factor in the book, I could probably manage... because slow burn romances are ALWAYS worth it!!
    (ps: it took me three attempts to write the word 'always' up there. Just FYI.)
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

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    1. YES! This book is perfect for you. Read ASAP :)

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  6. I have yet to pick this one up but I have heard all the ravings! Definitely looking forward to it :D

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  7. For sure its all about their romance, loved it

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  8. Stop reading my mind, Jen! :P

    I am starting to read some more dystopia after having been on a long break but the romance in this one totallly has my attention. I lovee me a good slow burn romance... tee hee.

    Thanks so much for sharing this one, Jen! :D I gotta go add it to my TBR now :P

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  9. I haven't read this one but I don't think I'm keen, especially if it's like Matched. Dystopians these days really need something that will wow me. I do like the sound of the slow burn romance though! Great review Jen!

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  10. Loooooved this book! It wasn't even on my radar until I was offered the audio and I tried it out and next thing I knew I had listened to all of it :)

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  11. I've seen SUCH good things about this book and I want to try it! Despite...being....super really cautious about dystopians like you. Gah. I've read so many lousy ones already this year and I feel like high tailing it and screaming. BUT. The romance sounds incredible and I just want to know how it all pans out. ;-)

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  12. I've never actually heard of this book before, but it sounds kinda good. In a dystopian slump though, so we'll see. But nooo, cliffhanger! Maybe when the sequel's almost out.

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  13. LOL girl YA dystopia and I are also taking a break. But still I really want to read this one now. I haven't read Matched so I won't be really familiar with this, but that slow burning romance. I love the sound of it. Great review :)

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  14. I avoided this one for the same reasons. I was waiting until the hype died down because then my expectations aren't' so high.

    I loved your review. It tells me everything I need to know, why I should read, all without overselling it.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  15. Hmmm! I'm usually very hesitant now when a YA novel with a futuristic/dystopic setting is centered largely on romance, but I may give this one a go if the setting actually compliments it and gives the problem refreshing relationship conflicts. I know you have great taste, so I'll take your word on this!

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  16. So, I haven't even heard of this one! BUT. I probably would have written it off too because I am about burnt out of dystopians. I am SUPER CURIOUS now and I want to read it! Great review :)

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  17. I really liked this book! It was one that I too had overlooked, but I'm so glad I read it. I ship Bishop and Ivy so much, and I like the concept of the book. I loved the slow burn romance !! Nice review <33

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  18. I think I'm going to wait until I have both books to read this, but this has definitely been on my radar for the romance! From what Danielle has told me, I am a little worried about being annoyed at some of Ivy's actions. But I've heard this Bishop is worth it. So happy you gave this a try and liked.

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  19. The Book of Ivy is one of my favorite reads of 2014. (This review was written before New Years!) That is hurts my heart that I have to wait a year for the next book in the series. The cliff hanger was painful, and left me almost in tears for both Ivy and Bishop.

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